Breaking News
November 19, 2017 - UNN researchers explore modeling of cognitive dissonance phenomenon
November 19, 2017 - Verseon presents second anticoagulation candidate for clinical trials at AHA 2017
November 19, 2017 - Pregnant Asian women who develop high blood pressure at highest risk for heart failure hospitalization
November 19, 2017 - Medicare seeks comment on ways to cut costs of Part D drugs
November 19, 2017 - Tree cover linked to fewer asthma cases in polluted urban neighborhoods
November 19, 2017 - Make the Diagnosis: Hair Care Conundrum
November 19, 2017 - New techniques give blood biopsies greater promise
November 19, 2017 - Researchers identify possible genetic basis for coronary artery disease
November 19, 2017 - Stress experienced by emergency call handlers has negative impact on psychological health
November 18, 2017 - New cancer cell screening is improving childhood leukaemia treatment
November 18, 2017 - Groundbreaking study identifies protein as potential factor in cancer metastasis
November 18, 2017 - New model to test effectiveness of existing and potential CF therapies
November 18, 2017 - Staying Active May Lower Odds for Glaucoma
November 18, 2017 - Potential new autism drug shows promise in mice
November 18, 2017 - Some states roll back ‘retroactive Medicaid,’ a buffer for the poor — and for hospitals
November 18, 2017 - Selectively deleting stem cell factor promotes recovery after TBI in mice
November 18, 2017 - Breakthrough research brings new procedure closer to helping patients with blood cancer
November 18, 2017 - Dr Peter Simpson Appointed to SLAS Board of Directors
November 18, 2017 - Friendships between young children can protect against ADHD
November 18, 2017 - Old World monkeys could hold key to stop progression of rheumatoid arthritis
November 18, 2017 - Harris Health System RNs named among 20 Outstanding Nurses for 2017
November 18, 2017 - Old World monkeys could be key to a new, powerful rheumatoid arthritis therapy
November 18, 2017 - Mount Sinai researchers identify new therapeutic target for ER+ breast cancer
November 18, 2017 - Age, CRP levels predict success in tapering of biologics in rheumatoid arthritis patients
November 18, 2017 - New dye could be used to observe electrical activity of neurons in the brain
November 18, 2017 - New study further validates use of vaginal progesterone to decrease risk of preterm birth
November 18, 2017 - Russian researcher determined range of reference values for boron in the human body
November 18, 2017 - ‘What the Health?’ Tax bill or health bill?
November 18, 2017 - Could Your Cat Give You ‘Bird Flu?’
November 18, 2017 - Vitamin D Linked to Fertility Outcomes in ART
November 18, 2017 - Neuroscientists identify genetic changes in microglia in a mouse model of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease
November 18, 2017 - Tax reform proposal could impact care for older Americans
November 18, 2017 - PCSK9 inhibitor offers clinical benefit to patients with peripheral artery disease
November 18, 2017 - Researchers receive £1.3 million to develop sight-saving imaging technology
November 18, 2017 - Novel buckypaper sensor could pave way for high-performance, affordable wearable technology
November 18, 2017 - Despite ACA cost protections, most adolescents skip regular checkups
November 18, 2017 - Stem cell treatment allows paraplegic rats to walk and regain sensory perception
November 18, 2017 - HTC analytical conference comes to the UK
November 18, 2017 - Face It: Drinking, Smoking Takes Toll on Looks: MedlinePlus Health News
November 18, 2017 - New research shows where in the brain the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s occur
November 18, 2017 - Philips announces launch of global movement to raise awareness for COPD
November 18, 2017 - University of Bristol awarded grant to reduce antibacterial drug resistance in Thailand
November 18, 2017 - New oxytocin chemical sensor could be first step towards early diagnosis of autism
November 18, 2017 - Study shows how naïve T-cells may affect tumor immunity and immunotherapy
November 18, 2017 - New studies highlight importance of cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce CVD risk
November 18, 2017 - Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction
November 18, 2017 - Specially tailored, ultrafast light pulses can trigger neurons to fire in different patterns
November 18, 2017 - Decrease in sunshine linked to rising incidence of Rickets
November 18, 2017 - Harnessing social media big data to fight against prescription drug crisis
November 18, 2017 - Researchers find way to switch tumor cells between 2D and 3D morphology
November 18, 2017 - Leaf-eating ability of beetle largely due to bacteria inside the insect
November 18, 2017 - FDA Approves Hemlibra (emicizumab-kxwh) for Hemophilia A with Inhibitors
November 18, 2017 - Adolescents underreport amphetamine use, likely unaware that adderall is amphetamine
November 18, 2017 - Study reveals a reduced risk of teenage eczema in breastfed babies
November 18, 2017 - Separating side effects could pave way for safe, effective pain medications
November 18, 2017 - Gut bacteria at young age can contribute to MS disease onset and progression, study suggests
November 18, 2017 - Environmental triggers may play role in development of Lupus
November 18, 2017 - Review looks into conventional versus new treatment modalities in orthodontic pain management
November 17, 2017 - FDA Alert: Diphenoxylate Hydrochloride and Atropine Sulfate Tablets by Greenstone: Recall
November 17, 2017 - For older women, every movement matters
November 17, 2017 - Talking-based therapy could transform aftercare for cancer survivors
November 17, 2017 - Olympus IXplore SpinSR10 imaging system enables researchers to observe fine details in live cells
November 17, 2017 - Study explores reasons for underrepresentation of minorities in genetic cancer research
November 17, 2017 - California firm running physician practices is closing down as scrutiny ramps up
November 17, 2017 - BMI not valid measure of obesity in postmenopausal women, study shows
November 17, 2017 - Vaginal progesterone decreases the risk of premature birth in women with short cervix
November 17, 2017 - Pricey ER Tests for Chest Pain Often Unnecessary
November 17, 2017 - ‘Old’ Lungs May Be Good Transplant Options: MedlinePlus Health News
November 17, 2017 - How not to gain weight over the holidays
November 17, 2017 - Researchers map first-ever proteome of healthy human heart
November 17, 2017 - Drug used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective for Zika virus
November 17, 2017 - One in 20 children still receiving codeine to treat pain despite warning from federal regulators
November 17, 2017 - Improving clinical trials with machine learning
November 17, 2017 - Experts identify mental exercise program that can reduce risk of dementia
November 17, 2017 - Just-in-time 3-D implants set to transform tumor surgery
November 17, 2017 - Skin patch offers hope for people with peanut allergy
November 17, 2017 - Scientists identify biomarkers that predict risk of death in Ebola patients
November 17, 2017 - Heart attack, stroke patients have improved outcomes when statins are prescribed after discharge
November 17, 2017 - Majority of people do not understand link between obesity and cancer, study shows
November 17, 2017 - Deep vein thrombosis accurately diagnosed by GPs trained in compression ultrasonography
Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens

Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Washington University researchers Deanna M. Barch, PhD, (left) and Joan L. Luby, MD, examine brain images from MRI scans of children. They found that adverse experiences in young children are linked to differences in a brain structure that regulates emotions and helps make decisions. The researchers also connected those bad experiences to depression and health problems in children as young as 9. Credit: Robert Boston

Adverse experiences in childhood—such as the death of a parent, growing up in poverty, physical or sexual abuse, or having a parent with a psychiatric illness—have been associated with physical and mental health problems later in life. But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that multiple adverse experiences in early childhood are linked to depression and physical health problems in kids as young as 9 to 15. Further, the researchers have identified a potential pathway in the brain to explain how such stressful experiences influence poor health in kids.

The researchers found that a key brain structure involved in regulating emotions and decision-making is smaller in kids who have lived through three or more adverse experiences before the age of 8, compared with kids whose lives were more stable. Young children who faced multiple adverse experiences also were 15 percent more likely to develop severe depression by their preteen and early teen years and 25 percent more likely to have physical health problems, such as asthma and gastrointestinal disorders. Due to the health problems, these kids were more likely to miss school.

The new findings are published Oct. 30 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“We did not expect we would see health problems in children so young,” said senior investigator and Washington University child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD. “Our findings demonstrate how powerful the psychosocial environment can be. A child’s brain doesn’t develop based solely on its genetic infrastructure. It’s influenced by the stresses of poverty, violence, the loss of a parent, and other adverse experiences, which together can have serious health consequences evident as early as the teen and preteen years.”

The study involved 119 children, who were ages 3 to 6 when the project began. The researchers tracked adverse experiences in the kids’ lives—which also included experiences such as natural disasters, a parent’s arrest, or a parent with a serious illness requiring hospitalization. The children in the study averaged more than five such experiences before the age of 8.

The researchers also performed multiple MRI brain scans of these children when they were ages 6 to 13. The first scans, performed when the children reached school age, showed that the inferior frontal gyrus was smaller in children who had more adverse experiences. The researchers also determined that the structure appears to be part of a pathway through which the stresses of adverse childhood experiences may influence mental and physical health.

“People exposed to adversity early in life experience changes in the volume of the inferior frontal gyrus that probably can make children more vulnerable to behavioral issues and bad decision-making,” theorized Luby, director of Washington University’s Early Emotional Development Program. “We suspect that such changes are associated with issues such as poor diet, risky and more dangerous behavior and generally not taking very good care of yourself, and overall, this contributes to poorer mental and physical health outcomes.”

The video will load shortly.

Growing up in poverty, having a parent die, being physically or sexually abused and other adverse childhood experiences have been linked to health problems in older people, but now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that those adverse experiences in early childhood can be connected to mental and physical health problems in kids as young as 9. They’ve also identified changes in the brain that may be driving those problems. Jim Dryden has more… Credit: Washington University BioMed Radio

Previous research has connected adverse childhood experiences to problems such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness in older people, but no one had looked at whether those stressful experiences are linked to health problems in adolescents. And until now, researchers had not been able to explain how such experiences could contribute to poor health in these kids.

The researchers found that when kids had three or more adverse experiences, they also had smaller brain volumes that, in turn, were associated with lower scores on a scale that measures how well a child expresses emotions. Poor emotional expression has been associated with depression and worse social and emotional outcomes.

Such children also had more physical health problems. Parents reported that kids who had more adverse experiences were more likely to have significant health problems that appeared to affect school attendance.

In earlier research, Luby, who also is the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry, found that kids can be resilient and, with nurturing parenting, may be able to overcome individual stressors such as poverty or the loss of a parent. This new research indicates that when kids accumulate multiple stressors, the experiences pile up and cause problems early in their lives, and family members and doctors need to be aware of the powerful influence of these psychosocial risks so that kids can get the help they need.

Luby added that the study could alter the way doctors and researchers think about the development of disease.

“We know toxins in the environment can contribute to disease, but this study suggests that kids can experience physical and mental health problems from exposure to psychosocial ‘toxins,’ too,” she said.

Luby and her colleagues plan to continue tracking the health of these children as they grow into adulthood. Meanwhile, the researchers also are beginning a multidisciplinary study to follow pregnant women and their infants to see whether psychosocial stressors and adversity experienced during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life also affect brain development and overall health.


Explore further:
New psychology study finds adverse childhood experiences transfer from one generation to the next

More information:
Luby JL, Barch D, Whalen D, Tillman R, Belden A. Association between early life adversity and risk for poor emotional and physical health in adolescence: a putative mechanistic neurodevelopmental pathway. JAMA Pediatrics, Oct. 30, 2017. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3009

Journal reference:
JAMA Pediatrics

Provided by:
Washington University School of Medicine

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles