Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Being bullied has been found in a new study to raise a protein level in the bloodstream that’s linked to both physical and mental health problems. More from The New York Times:
Being bullied raises the blood’s level of C-reactive protein, or CRP, a marker of systemic inflammation and a risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases.
Scientists followed 1,420 boys and girls ages 9 to 21, interviewing bullies, victims and their parents. They assessed CRP levels with periodic blood tests.
After controlling for initial levels of CRP and for many factors that affect it — sex, age, race and various health and socioeconomic issues — the researchers found that CRP levels in victims increased in direct proportion to the number of bullying incidents they experienced.
Bullies, in contrast, had low increases in CRP, even lower than those in children not involved in bullying at all. The finding suggested that a bully’s increased social status might have biological advantages, the scientists said. Their study was published online on Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The only other kind of social adversity where we see this kind of long-term effect is in children who are physically abused or neglected,” said the lead author, William E. Copeland, an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke.
Image: Bullied boy, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 9th, 2013
Children who have diagnosed behavioral problems or who experience “adverse events” in their lives before age 8 may be more likely to develop physical inflammation later in adolescence and adulthood, putting them at greater risk for inflammation-related disorders including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. More from ScienceDaily.com on the findings of a new study, which was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology:
[Children with behavioral problems or who had suffered "adversities" by age 8] had higher levels of two proteins (C-reactive protein — CRP; and Interleukin 6 — IL-6) in their blood when tested at the age of 10. This was the case even after a large number of other factors, including sex, race, background, and medication use, were taken into account.
Having raised levels of CRP and IL-6 can be an early warning sign that a person may be at risk of chronic or inflammatory conditions later in life.
Previous research has shown that children with behavioral problems can go on to develop health problems during adulthood, but this is the first time that a link has been found between mental health and inflammation in childhood.
The researchers believe the link may be due to the fact that many behavioral problems are associated with how the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis works. The HPA axis plays a major role in controlling reactions to stress and the immune system and, if it malfunctions, it can stimulate the release of the two proteins that cause chronically elevated levels of inflammation, which is tissue’s response to injury.
Speaking about the findings, Karestan Koenen, PhD, the report’s senior author and associate professor of Epidemiology, said: “This new research shows for the first time that having behavioral problems in childhood can put children on the path to ill health much earlier than we previously realized. The important message for healthcare professionals is that they need to monitor the physical health as well as the mental health of children with behavioral problems in order to identify those at risk as early as possible.”
Image: Sad child, via Shutterstock
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