Psychological and mental health problems in patients with thalidomide embryopathy in Japan

Authors

  • Koubun Imai MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
    • Correspondence: Koubun Imai, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, 1-21-1, Toyama, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8655, Japan. Email: mental@hosp.ncgm.go.jp

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  • Toshiharu Iida PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
    2. Department of Humanities, Yamanashi Eiwa College, Yamanashi, Japan
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  • Maki Yamamoto MA,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Kensuke Komatsu MA,

    1. Department of AIDS Clinical Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Yuko Nukui MD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Atsuto Yoshizawa MD, PhD

    1. Department of General Internal Medicine, National Center for Global Health and Medicine Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
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Abstract

Aim

The aim of the study was to examine the presence of psychological and mental health problems in patients with thalidomide embryopathy in Japan in order to develop and build future support systems.

Methods

The present study examined the presence/absence of electroencephalographic abnormalities, intellectual/cognitive functions, and mental health problems in 22 participants (nine men, 13 women) with thalidomide embryopathy. Participants completed the electroencephalograph instrument. Participants were also assessed using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III; the Autism-Spectrum Quotient; the General Health Questionnaire-28, and the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

Results

The results suggest the following: (i) electroencephalographic abnormality observed in several thalidomide embryopathy participants is unlikely to be the direct result of thalidomide; (ii) the cognitive functions of working memory and processing speed are lower in thalidomide embryopathy patients than in healthy individuals; and (iii) 40.9% of the thalidomide embryopathy participants have possible mental disorders, with more mental problems observed than in healthy individuals.

Conclusions

Deterioration of mental health in patients with thalidomide embryopathy is indicated. Anxiety, insomnia, and physical symptoms were especially remarkable and may have resulted in restriction of social activities. Therefore, careful examination and active support of patients' psychological and mental problems is essential.

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