Posts Tagged ‘ mental health ’

ADHD Linked to Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Air Pollution Linked to ADHD in ChildrenIs air pollution a factor in causing ADHD? A new study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE suggests there may be a link.

A news release states:

Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, a component of air pollution, raises the odds of behavior problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 9, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Researchers followed more than 200 women and their children living in New York City. Moms had their placenta and umbilical cord blood tested for PAH levels after birth, and children had their urine tested at ages 3 or 5. The results revealed that PAH exposure during pregnancy lead to a much higher chance (five times higher) chance that a child would develop inattentive-type ADHD, one of three types of ADHD.

“The findings are concerning because attention problems are known to impact school performance, social relationships, and occupational performance,” the study’s lead author Frederica Perera said.

NBC News reports:

PAHs are generated when carbon-based things are burned — from steaks on the grill to coal or oil burned to generate electricity. In New York, “traffic and residential heating are major local sources. There is also some contribution from coal-burning sources in states upwind,” Perera’s team also noted.

It’s not clear yet from this research how exactly PAHs are potentially linked to ADHD, but the study suggests relations to “the disruption of the endocrine system, DNA damage, oxidative stress, and interference with placental growth factors resulting in decreased exchange of oxygen and nutrients.”

Eleven percent of kids ages 4 to 17 (that’s 6.4 million!) have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study from 2013. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, read up on what you need to know here.

ADHD and Five Impaired Abilities
ADHD and Five Impaired Abilities
ADHD and Five Impaired Abilities

Photo of factory smoke courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Mom-to-Be Stress Linked to Higher Rates of Asthma

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Don’t freak out: Scentists are finding that a mom-to-be’s stress levels can have significant effects on a child’s future health, including delays in cognitive development, behavioral issues, and even an increased risk of autism. The latest link? Scientists have found that maternal stress could increase the risk that babies develop allergy-induced asthma.

The study, produced by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, focused on mice, and found that even a single stressful situation could flood the baby’s bloodstream with stress hormones like corticosterone, and lead to a greater chance that the baby develops allergy-based asthma after birth.

What’s the takeaway? Do what you can to relax, unwind, and reduce stress throughout your pregnancy, to help protect your baby’s health.

To keep up with the latest news for your kiddo, sign up for our Parents Daily newsletter.

Stress During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Stress During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Stress During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

 

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Kids Born After Fertility Treatments May Have Mental Health Risk

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Thousands of children are conceived each year through assisted reproductive technologies, treatments meant to help couples who have fertility problems.  But a new study of Danish children is linking fertility treatments with an increased risk that the children will develop a mental health problem later in life.  Researchers described the increased risk as “modest,” but identifiable nonetheless when they compared children born to parents who underwent fertility treatments with children who were conceived without intervention.

The study looked at nearly 2.5 million children born between the years 1969 and 2006, most of whose parents who had no known fertility problems.  Five percent of the parents had “registered fertility problems.”  The children’s medical histories were followed until 2009, with researchers looking for any psychiatric disorders that required hospitalization.  The children born to women with fertility problems were 33 percent more likely to have a psychiatric disorder, as ScienceDaily reports:

When separate analyses were performed for psychiatric disorders diagnosed during childhood (0-19 years) and in young adulthood (≥20 years), the investigators found that the risk estimates were not markedly changed, indicating that the increased risks persist into adulthood.

Commenting on the results, Dr. [Allan] Jensen said that professionals involved in the diagnosis and treatment of women with fertility problems should be aware of “the small, but potentially increased risk of psychiatric disorders among the children born to women with fertility problems.” However, this knowledge, he added, “should always be balanced against the physical and psychological benefits of a pregnancy.”

Only a few studies have investigated the risk of psychiatric disorders among children born after fertility treatment. Although results from most of these studies do not find an increased risk, the results do show substantial variation, said Dr Jensen; this may be because of the limited size and follow-up time in most of them. This study is the first with sufficient numbers and an adequately long follow-up period to enable a realistic assessment of risk patterns into young adulthood.

Jensen added that the study did not make a conclusion on whether it was fertility treatments or the underlying cause of the infertility–possibly genetic–that was responsible for the increased mental health risk.

Image: Fertility lab, via Shutterstock

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Growth Hormone Linked with Depression in Kids

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Children who are short but otherwise healthy, and who are treated with growth hormone (GH) do in fact become taller, but they also are at increased risk of suffering from depression as they grow older, according to new research presented to the a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society.  The findings compared kids who received GH treatment to kids who were of similar height and age but did not receive treatment.  Kids who received treatment had more psychological and psychosocial issues than those who did not–although the researchers urged more research on whether it’s the treatment itself or the culture around receiving treatment that had the greatest impact on mental health.  More from ScienceDaily:

“Daily injections, frequent clinic visits and repeated discussions about height might exacerbate instead of improve psychosocial concerns in children with idiopathic short stature (ISS) who are otherwise healthy, and give them no cognitive improvements,” said lead author Emily C. Walvoord, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

While the link between using GH to increase height and improved psychological adaptation is being debated, early data suggest that the subtle cognitive problems seen in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) might also occur in children with GHD and might improve with treatment.

Dr. Walvoord and her colleagues evaluated the cognitive and behavioral status of children with GHD and ISS after they received either GH therapy or observation alone, and their preliminary results presented here challenge the idea that improvements in height also result in improvements in psychological functioning. Their findings also raise the concern that GH treatment of these otherwise healthy children might even worsen their emotional symptoms.

Image: Short child, via Shutterstock

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Bullying Linked to Inflammation, Other Health Issues

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.

Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying
Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying
Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying

Image: Bullied boy, via Shutterstock

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