Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Women who get poor sleep during pregnancy–either not enough time asleep or restless sleep–may disrupt the immune system and lead to lower birth weight and other complications, a new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine has found. More from ScienceDaily.com:
Women with depression also are more likely than non-depressed women to suffer from disturbed sleep and to experience immune system disruption and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
“Our results highlight the importance of identifying sleep problems in early pregnancy, especially in women experiencing depression, since sleep is a modifiable behavior,” said Michele Okun, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Pitt’s School of Medicine and lead author of the report. “The earlier that sleep problems are identified, the sooner physicians can work with pregnant women to implement solutions.”
Adequate and high-quality sleep, both in pregnant and non-pregnant women as well as men, is essential for a healthy immune system. Pregnancy often is associated with changes in sleep patterns, including shortened sleep, insomnia symptoms and poor sleep quality. These disturbances can exacerbate the body’s inflammatory responses and cause an overproduction of cytokines, which act as signal molecules that communicate among immune cells.
“There is a dynamic relationship between sleep and immunity, and this study is the first to examine this relationship during pregnancy as opposed to postpartum,” added Dr. Okun.
While cytokines are important for numerous pregnancy-related processes, excess cytokines can attack and destroy healthy cells and cause destruction of tissue in pregnant women, thereby inhibiting the ability to ward off disease. For expectant mothers, excess cytokines also can disrupt spinal arteries leading to the placenta, cause vascular disease, lead to depression and cause pre-term birth.
Image: Sleeping pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Children whose parents administer discipline in the form of slapping, shoving, or pushing may be more likely to become obese or suffer other emotional and physical health problems later in life. Reuters has more:
“This is one study that adds to a growing area of research that all has consistent findings that physical punishment is associated with negative mental and now physical (health) outcomes,” said Tracie Afifi, who led the study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Last year, she and her colleagues published findings linking hitting and slapping in childhood to a higher risk of depression and anxiety later in life (see Reuters Health story of July 2, 2013 here: reut.rs/Mo1MXm.)
For the current report, they re-analyzed data collected in 2004 and 2005 by United States Census interviewers, who surveyed more than 34,000 adults across the country.
Participants were asked whether their parents or other adults at home pushed, slapped, grabbed, shoved or hit them for punishment as a child. They also reported their current health conditions.
About 1,300 people reported being physically punished at least “sometimes” without more extreme physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Compared to people who weren’t punished physically as children, they were more likely to have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition.
Specifically, those participants were 25 percent more likely to have arthritis and 28 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease – though the second finding could have been due to chance, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.
More people who had been punished physically were obese: about 31 percent, versus 26 percent of those with no history of physical punishment.
Image: Angry parent and child, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 12th, 2013
Children who are suffering from depression experience brain changes similar to the changes observed in depressed adults, new research published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has found. The New York Times reports:
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The children underwent M.R.I. brain scans while viewing pictures of happy, sad, fearful or neutral faces. The researchers found that right amygdala and right thalamus activity was significantly greater in the depressed children than in the others, a finding that has also been observed in depressed adolescents and adults.
“We found something in the brain that is aligned with the idea of neurobiological models of depression — which parts of the brain are involved and how they interact,” said the lead author, Michael S. Gaffrey, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. “We can begin to use this information in conjunction with other information — symptoms, other biological markers — to identify and eventually prevent and treat this disorder.”
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may encounter aftereffects of the disorder into adulthood, according to a new study published in the study Pediatrics. The effects include social issues like marital problems, or emotional disorders liek depression. CNN has more:
A new study published in this week’s Pediatrics journal finds that about a third of those diagnosed as children continue to have ADHD as adults, and more than half of those adults have another psychiatric disorder as well.
Suicide rates were nearly five times higher in adults who had childhood ADHD compared to those who did not, according to the study. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why; they speculate that problems associated with childhood ADHD, such as lower academic achievement and social isolation, make people more prone to life issues as adults.
The study looked at roughly 230 people born between 1976 and 1982 who were diagnosed with ADHD as children. The group was followed until they were about 30 years old.
Researchers think the higher rates of suicide and psychiatric illness in those with childhood ADHD are tied to depression and impulsive behavior.
Living with ADHD can be challenging. The disorder often makes it more difficult for school children to pay attention in class. They may be more fidgety, hyperactive, and often act before they think things through, experts say. Their grades can suffer, and they tend to have trouble getting along with their peers.
As they grow up, people with ADHD are may be underemployed and are more inclined to have problems and accidents on the job, says Dr. Russell Barkley, clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Image: ADHD graphic, via Shutterstock
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Friday, March 1st, 2013
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may share genetic codes with mental illnesses including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, according to new research published this week in the journal The Lancet. The New York Times has more:
[The study] was based on an examination of genetic data from more than 60,000 people world-wide. Its authors say it is the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders. The findings strengthen an emerging view of mental illness that aims to make diagnoses based on the genetic aberrations underlying diseases instead of on the disease symptoms.
Two of the aberrations discovered in the new study were in genes used in a major signaling system in the brain, giving clues to processes that might go awry and suggestions of how to treat the diseases.
“What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”
The new study does not mean that the genetics of psychiatric disorders are simple. Researchers say there seem to be hundreds of genes involved and the gene variations discovered in the new study only confer a small risk of psychiatric disease.
Steven McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., said it was significant that the researchers had found common genetic factors that pointed to a specific signaling system.
“It is very important that these were not just random hits on the dartboard of the genome,” said Dr. McCarroll, who was not involved in the new study.
Image: Genetic markers, via Shutterstock
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