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October 8, 2010, 8:03 AM CT

Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress

Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress
Linda Carpenter
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Seemingly healthy adults, if they were abused or neglected during childhood, may suffer physiological consequences decades later. In research published online last week by the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a team led by psychiatry experts at Brown University and Butler Hospital observed that healthy adults who reported being mistreated as kids appear to have an elevated inflammatory response to stress in comparison to adults who had happier childhoods.

Main author Linda Carpenter, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, said that previous research has revealed preliminary associations between inflammatory markers, (such as cytokines or proteins released in the bloodstream such as interleuken-6) and depression and anxiety disorders, so this new finding could ultimately improve doctors' understanding of how stressors in childhood shape the risk people face for developing those conditions during the later part of life.

"Animal models have given us some signals about how the functioning of an organism's stress response system can run amok for the rest its life as a result of some of the earliest environment exposures - adverse ones in particular," said Carpenter, who also treats patients as chief of the mood disorders practice at Butler. "This is one of many studies we've been doing with generally healthy adults, looking at the effects of adverse early environment and how it might create a biological abnormality that could predispose somebody to future depression or another medical disorders".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 5, 2010, 7:24 AM CT

Depression during pregnancy

Depression during pregnancy
A nurse's fingertips gently touch the foot of a preterm infant in newborn intensive care. Clinical depression during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth.

Credit: Clare McLean/UW Medicine

Usage Restrictions: For use by news media and education institutions only.

Clinical depression puts pregnant women at increased risk of delivering prematurely and of giving birth to below-normal weight infants, as per a report published Oct. 4 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Being born too soon and weighing too little at birth can jeopardize the immediate survival and long-term health of babies. Preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes worldwide of infant and early childhood mortality, respiratory distress, neurological and developmental impairment, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss and other disabilities.

Depression is common during pregnancy as well as at other times in a woman's life. Between 9 to 23 percent of women experience clinical depression while pregnant.

"In the United States, the likelihood of experiencing premature birth is even greater for depressed pregnant women living in poverty than for depressed pregnant women from middle- to high-socioeconomic backgrounds," said the main author of the report, Dr. Nancy Grote, University of Washington (UW)research associate professor of social work. Compounding the situation, she added, "Poor women in America are twice as likely to experience depression, in comparison to other women in this country".

Depressed, pregnant women living in European social democracies fared better than poor pregnant, depressed women in developing nations or in the United States, the Oct. 4 paper reported. European women had lower rates of premature births and low-birth weight infants. Social democracies offer universal health care and tend to have fewer socio-economic disparities in birth outcomes. Living in a developing nation or in poverty in the United States, where adequate prenatal, medical and mental health services appears to be lacking, could add to the harmful effects of depression during pregnancy on birth outcomes, the Oct. 4 paper suggested.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 1, 2010, 5:34 AM CT

Empty calories into children's food supply

Empty calories into children's food supply
St. Louis, MO, October 1, 2010 With over 23 million children and adolescents in the US overweight or obese, the risks for a number of chronic diseases continue to increase. An article in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association examines the diets of American youth and finds some disturbing results.

"The epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents is now widely regarded as one of the most important public health problems in the US," commented Jill Reedy, PhD, MPH, RD, and Susan M. Krebs-Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, both of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. "Most experts agree that the solution will involve changes in both diet and physical activity, in order to affect energy balance. For diet, this means a reduction in energy from current consumption levelsThis paper identifies the major sources of overall energy and empty calories, providing context for dietary guidance that could specifically focus on limiting calories from these sources and for changes in the food environment. Product reformulation alone is not sufficientthe flow of empty calories into the food supply must be reduced".

For 2-18 year olds, the top sources of energy were grain desserts, pizza, and soda. Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda and fruit drinks combined) provided almost 10% of total calories consumed. Nearly 40% of total calories consumed by 2-18 year olds were in the form of empty calories from solid fat and from added sugars. Half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:56 AM CT

Less pain for learning gain

Less pain for learning gain
Researchers long have recognized that a number of perceptual skills important for language comprehension and reading can be enhanced through practice. Now research from Northwestern University suggests a new way of training that could reduce by at least half the effort previously thought necessary to make learning gains.

The research also appears to be the first behavioral demonstration of metaplasticity -- the idea that experiences that on their own do not generate learning can influence how effective later experiences are at generating learning.

"Previous to our work much of the research into perceptual learning could be summed up as 'no pain, no gain,'" says Beverly Wright, first author of a study in the Sept. 22 Journal of Neuroscience and communication sciences and disorders professor at Northwestern. "Our work suggests that you can have the same gain in learning with substantially less pain".

The findings could lead to less effortful therapies for children who suffer from language learning impairments involving perceptual skills. And they hold potential for members of the general population with an interest in enhancing perceptual abilities -- for musicians seeking to sharpen their sensitivity to sound, people studying a second language or physicians learning to tell the difference between regular and irregular heartbeats.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:52 AM CT

Convenience stores with unhealthy food

Convenience stores with unhealthy food
Most studies of the food choices available near public schools have focused on fast food outlets rather than the full range of options available to schoolchildren. A newly released study by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health examined the patterns of exposure to a broad range of food outlets for school children in New York City.

The study, "Disparities in the Food Environments of New York City Public Schools," is reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Volume 39, Issue 3, and cited as the "Editor's Choice" in the September issue.

Using 2006-2007 data for New York City school locations, the paper describes the prevalence of five types of food outlets near schools. These included national chain and local fast-food restaurants, pizzerias, small grocery stores or bodegas, and convenience stores within 400 meters (437 yards) of public schools.

The scientists observed that 92.9% of students had a small grocery store within 400 meters of their school; these stores typically carry fewer healthy food options than larger grocery stores. In addition, 70.6% had a pizzeria within 400 meters, 48.9 % were that close to a convenience store, 43.2% were within 400 m. of a national chain fast-food restaurant, such as McDonald's or Burger King, and 33.9% were within 400 m. of a local fast-food chain restaurant.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:10 AM CT

Childhood viral infection may be a cause of obesity

Childhood viral infection may be a cause of obesity
Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, M.D.

Credit: UC San Diego

The emerging idea that obesity may have an infectious origin gets new support in a cross-sectional study by University of California, San Diego School of Medicine scientists who observed that children exposed to a particular strain of adenovirus were significantly more likely to be obese.

The study would be reported in the September 20 online edition of the journal Pediatrics September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego, and his colleagues examined 124 children, ages 8 to 18, for the presence of antibodies specific to adenovirus 36 (AD36), one of more than 50 strains of adenovirus known to infect humans and cause a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal and other infections. AD36 is the only human adenovirus currently associated with human obesity.

Slightly more than half of the children in the study (67) were considered obese, based on a Body Mass Index or BMI in the 95th percentile or greater. The scientists detected neutralizing antibodies specific to AD36 in 19 of the children (15 percent). The majority of these AD36-positive children (78 percent) were obese, with AD36 antibodies much more frequent in obese children (15 of 67) than in non-obese children (4 of 57).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 11, 2010, 9:14 AM CT

Sizing Up Vaccines

Sizing Up Vaccines
Vaccination is the most important public health strategy for protection from serious illnesses such as whooping cough and polio. But this strategy relies on having an ample stockpile. Researchers have found that how these stockpiles are built and deployed has different implications for public health.
A creative version of a classic engineering technique may improve decisions about building and using supplies of important pediatric vaccines, potentially leading to lower public health costs and healthier children.

The United States maintains a six-month supply of common pediatric vaccines to ensure protection from deadly diseases, such as the flu, polio, and diphtheria, despite interruptions in vaccine production. The stockpiles must be replenished as the vaccines are used or expire, and, because the manufacture of vaccines is a laborious and unreliable process, health officials must place orders for new vaccines up to a year in advance.

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have developed a mathematical framework to better understand the implications of vaccine stockpile levels through evidence-based engineering principles. Industrial engineers Sheldon Jacobson of UIUC and Ruben ProaƱo of RIT, who specialize in operations research, and Janet Jokela, a specialist in public health and infectious diseases at UIUC, published this work in the online edition of the November 2010 Journal of Industrial and Management Optimization.

Deciding how a number of pediatric vaccine doses to order from year to year is no simple task. As per the researchers, "The decision must balance several objectives that sometimes conflict." These include: minimizing the impact of vaccine shortages, maintaining or increasing vaccine coverage, and minimizing vaccine costs (including costs from unused vaccine).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 11, 2010, 8:56 AM CT

Neural proteins linked to autism disorders

Neural proteins linked to autism disorders
An international team of scientists, led by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, has identified misfolding and other molecular anomalies in a key brain protein linked to autism spectrum disorders.

Palmer Taylor, associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences at UC San Diego and dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and his colleagues report in the September 10 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry that misfolding of a protein called neuroligin-3, due to gene mutations, results in trafficking deficiencies that may lead to abnormal communications between neurons.

Genetic misfolding of neuroligins is thought to prevent normal formation and function of neuronal synapses. The gene mutation has been documented in patients with autism.

"It makes sense that there's a connection," said Taylor. "The neuroligins are involved in maintaining neuronal synapses and their malfunction is likely to affect a neurodevelopmental disease".

Neuroligins are post-synaptic proteins that help glue together neurons at synapses by connecting with pre-synaptic protein partners called neurexins. They are part of a larger family of alpha-beta-hydrolase fold proteins that includes a number of molecules with diverse catalytic, adhesion and secretory functions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 7, 2010, 7:41 AM CT

Depression in the first year after child's birth

Depression in the first year after child's birth
More than one-third of mothers and about one-fifth of fathers in the United Kingdom appear to experience an episode of depression between their child's birth and 12th year of age, with the highest rates in the first year after birth, as per a report posted online today that will appear in the November print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Depression in parents is linked to adverse behavioral, developmental and cognitive outcomes in their children," the authors write as background information in the article. "While the maternal depression and child outcome literature is well established, there are fewer studies on paternal depression. There is evidence that paternal depression is not uncommon, with rates higher than those in the general adult male population; however, a wide range of prevalence rates for paternal depression have been reported".

Shreya Dav, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Sc., of the Medical Research Council, London, England, and his colleagues examined incidence, trends and correlates of parental depression in 86,957 families seen in U.K. primary care facilities between 1993 and 2007. Mothers and fathers with depression were identified using diagnostic codes and pharmacy records.

Overall, between their children's birth and age 12, 19,286 mothers had a total of 25,176 episodes of depression and 8,012 fathers had a total of 9,683 episodes of depression. The depression rate was 7.53 per 100 mothers per year and 2.69 per 100 fathers per year. The highest rates were observed in the first year after the birth of a child, with 13.93 per 100 mothers and 3.56 per 100 fathers experiencing depression in that period.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 7, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia
The Endocrine Society released a new clinical practice guideline on the diagnosis and therapy of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). The guideline features a series of evidence-based clinical recommendations developed by an expert task force.

The guideline, reported in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), a publication of The Endocrine Society, is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrine Society, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, the European Society of Endocrinology, the Society for Pediatric Urology, the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society, and the CARES Foundation.

CAH is a genetic disorder of the adrenal glands that affects about one in 10,000 to 20,000 newborns, both male and female. The adrenal glands make the steroid hormones cortisol, aldosterone and androgens. In individuals with CAH, the adrenal glands produce an imbalance of these hormones which can result in ambiguous genitalia in newborn females, infertility and the development of masculine features such as development of pubic hair, rapid growth in both girls and boys before the expected age of puberty.

"If CAH is not recognized and treated, both girls and boys undergo rapid postnatal growth and early sexual development or, in more severe cases, neonatal salt loss and death," said Phyllis Speiser, MD, of Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York and Hofstra University School of Medicine, and chair of the task force that developed the guideline. "We recommend that every newborn be screened for CAH and that positive results be followed up with confirmatory tests".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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