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The Lasting Effects of Preschool Depression

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

sad young girlIt’s sad enough to consider the fact that very young children can suffer from depression, but a new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows that there’s even more reason to be concerned about the condition.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that “preschool onset depression, a developmentally adapted form of depression arising between ages 3 and 6 … emerged as a robust predictor of major depressive disorder in later childhood.”

The study followed nearly 250 kids, starting at ages 3–5 until ages 9–12, and discovered that “depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from the condition in elementary and middle school than kids who were not depressed at very young ages,” according to a statement released by the University.

As the Journal‘s study concluded:

Study findings provide evidence that this preschool depressive syndrome is a robust risk factor for developing full criteria for major depression in later childhood, over and above other established risk factors. The results suggest that attention to preschool depression and conduct disorder in addition to maternal history of depression and exposure to trauma may be important in identifying young children at highest risk for later major depression and applying early interventions.

That’s a depressing finding, to be sure, but there is some good news, according to child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD, the director of the University’s Early Emotional Development Program, who said in the statement: “…if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively and potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring.”

Image of a sad young girl: Shutterstock

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Good News (Yes, Really!) About Morning Sickness

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

woman with morning sicknessBelieve it or not, there’s good news for moms-to-be who suffer from morning sickness: New research published in the August issue of the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that the often debilitating, sometimes-all-day nausea and vomiting that can affect as many as 85 percent of pregnant women actually offers a protective effect. According to the study abstract:

“Our analysis reveals a consistent favorable effect of NVP [nausea and vomiting of pregnancy] on rates of miscarriages, congenital malformations, prematurity, and developmental achievements. The effect size was clinically important for miscarriage, malformations and prematurity. In a few studies the protective effects were more prominent in women with moderate–severe NVP than among those with mild or no NVP.” In other words, as bad as those barfy first weeks and months can be, they could mean good things for your baby.

The study isn’t the first to find a protective effect from morning sickness—in fact, the research in Reproductive Toxicology is a meta-analysis of 10 previous studies, reports the Wall Street Journal, that were conducted between 1992 and 2012.

More from WSJ:

The studies involved an estimated 850,000 pregnant women. They examined associations between nausea and vomiting and miscarriage rates, prematurity, birth weight, congenital abnormalities such as cardiac defects and cleft palate, and long-term child development.

The risk of miscarriage was more than three times as high in women without symptoms of nausea and vomiting as in those with symptoms. Women 35 years old or older, who generally have a relatively high risk for miscarriage, appeared to benefit the most from the “protective effect” associated with morning-sickness symptoms, the study said.

It’s important to note, however, that it can be perfectly normal to not have morning sickness, as well.

Morning Sickness During Pregnancy: When to Worry
Morning Sickness During Pregnancy: When to Worry
Morning Sickness During Pregnancy: When to Worry

Image of woman with morning sickness courtesy of Shutterstock

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What U.S. Kids Think of Their Weight

Friday, August 1st, 2014

child standing on a scaleDoes your child have an accurate perception of his or her weight? Maybe not. A new study, published yesterday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, found that 27 percent of U.S. kids and teens underestimate how much they weigh, while just 3 percent overestimate it. And parents fared about the same when it came to judging their kids’ pounds, with roughly 25 percent guessing on the low side of the scale and 1 percent guessing too high. More from HealthDay News:

“Efforts to prevent childhood obesity should incorporate education for both children and parents regarding the proper identification and interpretation of actual body weight,” said lead researcher Han-Yang Chen, from the department of quantitative health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass.

“Interventions for appropriate weight loss should target children directly because one of the major driving forces to lose weight comes from the child’s perception of their weight,” he said.

Data for the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and included 2,613 kids between the ages of 8 and 15.

The study also found that healthy-weight kids who overestimated their weight were more likely to try shedding unnecessary pounds than the kids who accurately estimated their weight—which one expert fears could lead to potential eating disorders and body image issues.

“These opposing problems are really two sides of the same coin—the fixation on weight rather than health,” Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told HealthDay News. “In general, dieting is ill advised, both for overweight children and those misperceiving their weight as high when it isn’t.”

 

Calculate your child’s height and weight percentile with our baby growth charts.

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Image of a child on a scale courtesy of Shutterstock

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Uh-Oh! Mild Concussions Can Have Lasting Effects

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

concussionA new long-term study published in the journal Neurology has revealed some sobering news for anyone who’s concerned about concussions. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that even mild concussions can have a lasting effect on thinking and memory. More from HealthDay News:

By comparing brain imaging studies and thinking tests between healthy people and those with relatively minor concussions, the researchers found that the recovery of thinking skills can take a long time. Minor concussions can be caused by events such as falling off a bike, being in a slow-speed car crash or being hit in a fist-fight.

Initially, those with concussions had thinking and memory test scores that were 25 percent lower than those in healthy people. One year after injury, however, while the scores for those with and without concussions were similar, those who had had brain injuries still had evidence of brain damage on imaging tests, with clear signs of continued disruption to key brain cells.

The study is one more piece of evidence that proves the need for increased awareness of—and study of—concussion injuries—especially because, as one of the study’s authors noted, almost all traumatic brain injuries fall in the “mild to moderate” category. And parents, especially, need to be vigilant about the signs and symptoms of concussion, which can include (but aren’t limited to) headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and changes in vision.

Read more about kids and concussions.

Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns

Image: Shutterstock

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Good News! 3 Out of 4 Kids Eat Fruits, Veggies Daily

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Consider it an old wives’ tale that kids turn their noses up at fruits and veggies. The Centers for Disease Control just released the results of a health survey, that shows that more than 75 percent of kids eat fruit daily, while a whopping 92 percent got at least one helping of veggies every day.

While those results are a sign that kids at least get some plant-based nutrients in their diet, the study didn’t assess how many servings of each kids received (children should get at least a cup of each per day, and a variety), and also didn’t differentiate highly between veggies. (Meaning that it’s likely that at least some of that veggie consumption came in the form of the kid favorite, French fries.)

The study also found that younger kids (between ages 2 and 5) often ate more fruit than teens (only 6 of 10 teens ate fruit, compared to 90 percent of preschoolers). The numbers were closer for veggies (is it the fry factor?): 93 percent of kids ages 2 to 11 ate veggies, while 90 percent of teens did.

While more study needs to be done to determine if kids are reaching their recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies, doctors recommend upping kids’ portions by making all snacks fruits and veggies, and including produce at every meal.

Tell us: How do you do at giving you and your child the recommended daily allowances of fruits and veggies? Find out if you’re feeding your toddler right with our quiz.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: girl with oranges by gorillaimages/Shutterstock.com

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