Youthdale is involved in a series of research studies in collaboration with its service partners and the academic community, including:

Polysomnographic Sleep Architecture in Children with ADHD
Dr. Robyn Stephens

Sleep disorders in children are a significant and under-treated public health problem worldwide. This study builds on earlier research conducted by Dr. Stephens at Toronto Western Hospital into the relationship between behavioral disorders and sleep problems in children.

Objective and subjective data relating children's sleep and daytime behavior will contribute to more effective treatment interventions with children whose aggression is associated with an underlying sleep disorder. This research is funded by a Dean's Award to Dr. Stephens from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Cognitive and Neuropsychological Effects of Keppra (levetiracetam) in Children with Partial Onset Seizures
Dr. Robyn Stephens and Dr. Paul Sandor

Youthdale is participating in an international study of the potential for Keppra as an adjunct to other anti-epilepsy medication to improve the cognitive functioning and learning ability of children ages 4 to 16 years old who have partial onset seizures and who are treated with other anti-epilepsy medication. The initial nine-week randomized, double-blind trial will be followed by a 48-week follow-up study of the safety and efficacy of Keppra.

Children’s Aggression Multidisciplinary Project
Dr. Joseph Beitchman, TD Bank Financial Group Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, HSC, Chief of Child Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Dr. Paul Sandor, Director of Child Neuropsychiatric Studies, YDL Institute of Pediatric Neuroscience, Co-Investigators

Childhood-onset aggression may yield important clues to genetic vulnerabilities that contribute to aggressive behavior into adulthood. Studies in animals and adult humans, and recent studies of aggressive children conducted at the University of Toronto, have identified genes in the serotonin and dopamine systems, as well as the enzyme monoamine oxidase, that are thought to modulate aggression.

This study examines specific genetic and environmental risk factors as correlates of extreme, persistent, and pervasive childhood-onset aggression among children 6 – 18 years of age. Data gathered in Youthdale’s in-patient psychiatric treatment units will increase understanding of specific genetic pathways in the development of aggression, and may help develop more effective treatment strategies tailored to the clinical and genetic profiles of affected children.

Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Children on an In-Patient Unit
Dr. Robyn Stephens and Dr. Paul Sandor

Neuropsychiatric disorders, such as ADHD, Tourette's Syndrome, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in childhood are frequently accompanied by aggression. Childhood aggression is associated with juvenile delinquency, learning difficulties, and substance abuse, and is often the primary reason for referrals to physicians and in-patient psychiatric units.

A comprehensive neuropsychiatric interview will assess 100 consecutive emergency admissions to Youthdale's secure treatment unit, to estimate the prevalence of neuropsychiatric disorders in children admitted to psychiatric treatment units because of severe behavioral disturbances, and to clarify the relationship between specific neuropsychiatric disorders and subtypes of aggression.

This research is funded by a grant to Dr. Stephens from the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network.

Children in Crisis: A Retrospective 1991 – 2002
In the course of assessing, treating, and planning for high-risk children in crisis, Youthdale has compiled extensive clinical files concerning children's individual characteristics, exposure to risk, social supports, psychiatric symptoms, and treatment outcomes. The focus of the present study is to:

(1) identify risk factors that determine a child's need for emergency psychiatric admission and subsequent response to crisis intervention
(2) correlate the use of psychotropic medications in the community to treat emotional and behavioral disorders in children
(3) identify trends in children's mental health needs over time.

Youthdale is conducting this study in partnership with the Children's Aid Societies in Toronto.