- Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Autism Spectum
- Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
- Gender Identity
Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Honors & Awards
Outstanding Faculty Award, Child Psychiatry Fellows at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (6/20/15)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Early Career Enhancement Committee Member, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2014 - 2016)
Information Systems Physician Advisory Group, Member, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (2010 - Present)
Medical Education: St Georges University School of Medicine Grenada West Indies (2000) NY West Indies
Fellowship: University Of New Mexico Hospital (2005) NM
Residency: Maricopa Medical Center (2003) AZ
Internship: Maricopa Medical Center (2001) AZ
Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2011)
Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Psychiatry (2008)
Community and International Work
Consultation for Stanford Children's Teen Van, Alta Vista High School
Psychiatry consultation in the community
Dept. of Adolescent Medicine
Opportunities for Student Involvement
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Autism, Bipolar Disorder
Intranasal Oxytocin Treatment for Social Deficits in Children With Autism
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by core deficits in social behavior and communication, and the presence of repetitive or stereotyped behaviors. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum which affects an estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States. At present, pharmacotherapies target only associated features of autism, with no effective drug treatments for the social impairments. Several lines of evidence now suggest that the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) may be an effective treatment for the core social deficits in autism. Here we will test the effects of twice daily intranasal OT (24 IU) over a 4-week period for enhancing social deficits in male and female children aged 6-12 years with autism. This research has high potential to lead to the development of more effective treatments and earlier interventions for children with autism.
Mechanism of Antidepressant-Related Dysfunctional Arousal in High-Risk Youth
A 16-week double blind, placebo-controlled investigation of escitalopram in adolescents with depression and/or anxiety with a family history of Bipolar Disorder. Subjects will be evaluated using semi-structured diagnostic interviews and symptom ratings, participate in a MRI scan and then randomized to treatment. Following randomization, high-risk youth will have visits every week for the first 4 weeks of treatment then biweekly up to 16 weeks during which time tolerability and ratings will be performed. MRI scan will be repeated at week 4.
The Role of Vasopressin in the Social Deficits of Autism
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are seeking participants for a study examining the effectiveness of vasopressin, a neuropeptide, in treating children with autism spectrum disorder. Difficulty with social interactions is characteristic of people with autism, who often have problems interpreting facial expressions or maintaining eye contact while talking with someone. There are currently no effective medicines available to treat social problems in individuals with autism. Neuropeptides, such as vasopressin and oxytocin, are molecules used by neurons in the brain to communicate with one another. Vasopressin is closely related to oxytocin, which is currently being tested as a treatment for autism, and has been shown to enhance social functioning in animals. Animal studies have shown that when the proper functioning of vasopressin is experimentally altered, animals develop a variety of social deficits, including impaired memory for peers and a reduced interest in social interaction. Researchers found that when vasopressin was administered to mice with a genetically induced form of autism, their social functioning improved. Vasopressin is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in humans, and has proved to be a successful treatment for some common pediatric conditions, including bedwetting. Similar to oxytocin, it also has been shown to improve social cognition and memory in people who do not have autism. The researchers will test the effects of vasopressin on social impairments in 50 boys and girls with autism, ages 6 to 12 years old. The study will last four weeks for each participant. Participants will receive either vasopressin or a placebo nasal spray. At the end of this phase of the study, those who received the placebo will have the option of participating in a four-week trial during which they will be given vasopressin. Stanford is the only site for the study. Participants do not need to live locally but will need to come to the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for study visits.
- MECHANISMS AND RISK FACTORS UNDERLYING ADVERSE EVENTS FROM TREATING YOUTH WITH OR AT RISK FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2019: S335–S336
- A randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial shows that intranasal vasopressin improves social deficits in children with autism SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 2019; 11 (491)
Sibling-Controlled Study of Parental Bonding, Coping, and Urgent Health-Care Use in Families With Children With Nonepileptic Seizures
JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC PSYCHOLOGY
2018; 43 (10): 1128–37
Pediatric psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) is a functional somatic symptom condition with significant health-care service burden. While both family and individual factors play an important role in the development and maintenance of PNES, little is known about what predicts urgent health-care use in families with children who have PNES. The aim of the current study was to explore whether child coping and parental bonding styles influence the decision to seek urgent medical care in these families.Data were analyzed from youth of age 8-18 years, 47 with PNES, and their 25 sibling controls. Parents provided the number of youth emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the preceding year. Youth completed a questionnaire about their coping styles and a measure about their mothers' and fathers' bonding styles. Using a mixed model with family as a random effect, we regressed urgent health-care use on participant type (youth with PNES or sibling), parental bonding style, and youth coping style, controlling for number of child prescription medications.Higher urgent health-care use was associated with having PNES, coping via monitoring, and perceiving one's father to be rejecting and overprotective. Lower urgent health-care use was associated with coping via venting and with perceiving one's mother to be caring and overprotective.This study provides preliminary empirical support for family-based clinical efforts to reduce child urgent health-care use by enhancing effective child coping skills and improving parental response to child impairment and distress in families with youth with PNES.
View details for PubMedID 29992307
- PHARMACOTHERAPY IN YOUTH AT HIGH RISK FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2017: S342
Risk factors for learning problems in youth with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.
Epilepsy & behavior
2017; 70: 135-139
This study examined the risk factors for learning problems (LP) in pediatric psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) and their specificity by comparing psychopathology, medical, cognitive/linguistic/achievement, bullying history, and parent education variables between subjects with PNES with and without LP and between subjects with PNES and siblings with LP.55 subjects with PNES and 35 siblings, aged 8-18years, underwent cognitive, linguistic, and achievement testing, and completed somatization and anxiety sensitivity questionnaires. A semi-structured psychiatric interview about the child was administered to each subject and parent. Child self-report and/or parent report provided information on the presence/absence of LP. Parents also provided each subject's medical, psychiatric, family, and bullying history information.Sixty percent (33/55) of the PNES and 49% (17/35) of the sibling subjects had LP. A multivariable logistic regression demonstrated that bullying and impaired formulation of a sentence using a stimulus picture and stimulus word were significantly associated with increased likelihood of LP in the PNES youth. In terms of the specificity of the LP risk factors, a similar analysis comparing LP in the youth with PNES and sibling groups identified anxiety disorder diagnoses and bullying as the significant risk factors associated with LP in the PNES youth.These findings emphasize the need to assess youth with PNES for LP, particularly if they have experienced bullying, have linguistic deficits, and meet criteria for anxiety disorder diagnoses.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.03.016
View details for PubMedID 28427021
Intranasal oxytocin treatment for social deficits and biomarkers of response in children with autism.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2017; 114 (30): 8119–24
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by core social deficits. Prognosis is poor, in part, because existing medications target only associated ASD features. Emerging evidence suggests that the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) may be a blood-based biomarker of social functioning and a possible treatment for ASD. However, prior OXT treatment trials have produced equivocal results, perhaps because of variability in patients' underlying neuropeptide biology, but this hypothesis has not been tested. Using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel design, we tested the efficacy and tolerability of 4-wk intranasal OXT treatment (24 International Units, twice daily) in 32 children with ASD, aged 6-12 y. When pretreatment neuropeptide measures were included in the statistical model, OXT compared with placebo treatment significantly enhanced social abilities in children with ASD [as measured by the trial's primary outcome measure, the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS)]. Importantly, pretreatment blood OXT concentrations also predicted treatment response, such that individuals with the lowest pretreatment OXT concentrations showed the greatest social improvement. OXT was well tolerated, and its effects were specific to social functioning, with no observed decrease in repetitive behaviors or anxiety. Finally, as with many trials, some placebo-treated participants showed improvement on the SRS. This enhanced social functioning was mirrored by a posttreatment increase in their blood OXT concentrations, suggesting that increased endogenous OXT secretion may underlie this improvement. These findings indicate that OXT treatment enhances social abilities in children with ASD and that individuals with pretreatment OXT signaling deficits may stand to benefit the most from OXT treatment.
View details for PubMedID 28696286
Intranasal Vasopressin Treatment Improves Social Abilities in Children With Autism
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP. 2016: S341
View details for Web of Science ID 000440365600575
Risk factors for comorbid psychopathology in youth with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
SEIZURE-EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EPILEPSY
2016; 38: 32-37
To examine the risk factors for internalizing (anxiety, depression) and posttraumatic stress (PTSD) disorders, somatization, and anxiety sensitivity (AS) in youth with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).55 probands with PNES and 35 siblings, aged 8-18 years, underwent a psychiatric interview, cognitive and language testing, and completed somatization and AS questionnaires. Parents provided the subjects' medical, psychiatric, family, and adversity history information.The risk factors for the probands' internalizing disorders (girls, older age of PNES onset), somatization (older age, epilepsy), and anxiety sensitivity (girls, adversities) differed from their siblings. The risk factors in the siblings, however, were similar to the general pediatric population. Proband depression was unrelated to the study's risk variables while PTSD was significantly associated with female gender and lower Full Scale IQ.Knowledge about the specificity of the risk factors for comorbid psychopathology in youth with PNES might facilitate their early identification and treatment.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.seizure.2016.03.012
View details for Web of Science ID 000377834400007
View details for PubMedID 27085102
A multisite controlled study of risk factors in pediatric psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
2014; 55 (11): 1739-1747
Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) in youth are symptoms of a difficult to diagnose and treat conversion disorder. PNES is associated with high medical and psychiatric morbidity, but specific PNES risk factors in the pediatric population are not known. We examined if youth with PNES have a distinct biopsychosocial risk factor profile compared to their siblings and if the interrelationships between these risk factors differentiate the PNES probands from the sibling group.This multisite study included 55 youth with a confirmed diagnosis of PNES (age range 8.6-18.4 years) and their 35 sibling controls (age range 8.6-18.1 years). A video EEG and psychiatric assessment confirmed the PNES diagnosis. Parents reported on each child's past and present medical/epilepsy, psychiatric, family, and educational history. Each child underwent a structured psychiatric interview, standardized cognitive and academic achievement testing, and completed self-report coping, daily stress, adversities, and parental bonding questionnaires.Compared to their siblings, the PNES probands had significantly more lifetime comorbid medical, neurological (including epilepsy), and psychiatric problems; used more medications and intensive medical services; had more higher anxiety sensitivity, practiced solitary emotional coping, and experienced more lifetime adversities. A principal components analysis of these variables identified a somatopsychiatric, adversity, epilepsy, and cognitive component. The somatopsychiatric and adversity components differentiated the probands from the siblings, and were highly significant predictors of PNES with odds ratios of 15.1 (95% CI [3.4, 67.3], and 9.5 (95% CI [2.0, 45.7]), respectively. The epilepsy and cognitive components did not differentiate between the PNES and sibling groups.These findings highlight the complex biopsychosocial and distinct vulnerability profile of pediatric PNES. They also underscore the need for screening the interrelated risk factors included in the somatopsychiatric and adversity components and subsequent mental health referral for confirmation of the diagnosis and treatment of youth with PNES.
View details for DOI 10.1111/epi.12773
View details for Web of Science ID 000345227400015
Anxiety and Special Impulse Control Disorders
Handbook of Developmental Psychiatry
edited by Steiner, H.
World Scientific. 2011: 91–128
View details for DOI 10.1142/9789814324823_0005