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Updated: 16 min 32 sec ago

Threatened At First, People Adapt to Societal Diversity Over Time

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 6:00am

President Donald Trump recently introduced immigration reforms that would prioritize education and employment qualifications over family connections in selecting immigrants. The reforms speak to those who feel threatened by what they perceive as a changing America.

But according to a new study led by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Oxford, those insecurities are unwarranted. The study shows that, with time, people can adapt to societal diversity and actually benefit from it.

“If you give people who are different from you half a chance, they will integrate into society pretty well. It is when you purposefully push them out, or erect barriers against them, that problems are introduced,” said Dr. Douglas Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“It’s important for our political leaders to set the right tone, so proper integration can occur.”

For the new study, researchers examined 22 years of psychological, sociological, and demographic data from multiple waves of the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey and the Latino Barometer Survey. The three surveys included more than 338,000 respondents interviewed in more than 100 countries.

The researchers combined various measures of life satisfaction, happiness, and health to create a “quality of life index” for respondents to each survey. They then examined the association between this index and religious diversity.

Unlike ethnicity and race, which aren’t always collected in surveys and are often measured using divergent categories, religion is well recorded using comparable categories, the researchers explained.

“Religion is a convenient way to look at the issue of social diversity,” Massey said.

The researchers analyzed the short-term effects of religious diversity on quality of life as perceived by individuals at different points in time, as well the long-term effects of diversity on quality of life in different countries over longer spans of time.

Although religious diversity was negatively associated with quality of life among individuals in the short run, it bore no association with the quality of life across countries in the long run, a finding that was confirmed in each dataset, according to the study’s findings.

The European Social Survey not only allowed the researchers to measure religious diversity and quality of life, it also permitted them to assess social trust and intergroup contact. According to the researchers, these additional measures allowed them to perform a “mediation analysis” that considered both the direct and indirect effects of religious diversity on quality of life.

They found that over two-year periods rising religious diversity acted to reduce social trust, undermining the quality of life. But over a 12-year period, diversity led to greater intergroup contact, which increased social trust to offset the negative short-term influence of diversity on quality of life, according to the study’s findings.

These findings have important policy implications, especially for immigration reform, according to the researchers.

Whenever people feel insecure for economic reasons and society is also changing around them, it becomes tempting for politicians to blame immigrants for these feelings of insecurity when this is not really the case, the researchers said. It is up to political leaders to set the right tone and message to counteract distrust in the short term so as to encourage integration in the long run, Massey said.

“When it comes to immigrants, political leaders and others have a choice. They can either mobilize sentiments of fear or cultivate feelings of acceptance. It can be tempting for demagogues to mobilize fears for their own political gain, but this is rarely in the best interests of society,” Massey said.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Source: Princeton University

Photo: With time, people can adapt to societal diversity and actually benefit from it, according to a study led by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Oxford and recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Those in power especially set the tone for integrating people into a new society. Credit: Egan Jimenez, Princeton University.

Infants at High Risk for Autism Less Attuned to Speech Patterns

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 7:00am

Infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are less attuned to differences in speech patterns compared to low-risk infants, according to a new study from Columbia University in New York.

The findings, published in the journal Brain and Language, suggest that interventions to improve language skills should begin during infancy for those at high risk for autism.

“Humans are born with an astonishing ability to distinguish basic sound units that make up all of the world’s languages,” said Kristina Denisova, Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical psychology at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“But why some infants at high familial risk for autism spectrum disorder are less likely to develop their language-specific competence in toddlerhood has remained a mystery.”

In a previous study, Denisova showed that high-risk infants (those who had a sibling with autism) were less likely to turn their heads in response to spoken language than typically developing infants.

Denisova says that “our team dissociated between head movements in infants at high vs. low familial risk for developing autism and detected the signal of future atypical development as early as 1-2 months after birth.”

A large body of research suggests that as an infant grows, future language development depends in part on the ability to distinguish sounds and elements of speech that are familiar versus those that are unfamiliar — including elements of pronunciation, such as stress patterns on different syllables. Sensitivity to specific stress patterns in one’s language serve as important cues for learning language.

In the new study, the researchers evaluated 52 infants (9 to 10 months old) who heard speech with familiar and unfamiliar stress patterns while undergoing MRI. Half of the infants were at high risk of autism. The research team recorded the infants’ head movements throughout the scan and studied whether features of head movements differed between the two groups.

The findings show that low-risk infants turned their heads more frequently while listening to speech with different syllabic patterns, while the high-risk infants did not. High-risk infants had significantly worse receptive language scores and the most atypical head-turning patterns on this task.

Infants who had more abnormal head-turning behavior during three types of exposure — listening to alternating stress speech, listening to language, and during sleep — were more likely to develop ASD by age three.

Denisova then looked at the findings of other studies in an attempt to understand what mechanisms might explain the differences in infant response. Her examination of studies of 774 infants confirmed that high-risk infants have lower receptive language scores compared to low-risk infants, further suggesting atypical processing of speech in the high-risk group.

Source: Columbia University Irving Medical Center


Did Leonardo da Vinci Have ADHD?

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 6:00am

In a paper published in the journal Brain, King’s College London researcher Professor Marco Catani suggests that the iconic artist Leonardo da Vinci may have had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to historical accounts, da Vinci had many traits similar to those with ADHD, including a lack of perseverance when it came to finishing his projects, voracious curiosity, high levels of creativity, and a tendency to jump from task to task.

“While impossible to make a post-mortem diagnosis for someone who lived 500 years ago, I am confident that ADHD is the most convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis to explain Leonardo’s difficulty in finishing his works,” said Catani, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

“Historical records show Leonardo spent excessive time planning projects but lacked perseverance. ADHD could explain aspects of Leonardo’s temperament and his strange mercurial genius.”

Catani lays out the evidence supporting his hypothesis, drawing on historical accounts of Leonardo’s work practices and behavior. He also believes that ADHD could have been a factor in Leonardo da Vinci’s extraordinary creativity and achievements across the arts and sciences.

“There is a prevailing misconception that ADHD is typical of misbehaving children with low intelligence, destined for a troubled life. On the contrary, most of the adults I see in my clinic report having been bright, intuitive children but develop symptoms of anxiety and depression later in life for having failed to achieve their potential,” says Catani, who specializes in treating neurodevelopmental conditions like Autism and ADHD.

“It is incredible that Leonardo considered himself as someone who had failed in life. I hope that the case of Leonardo shows that ADHD is not linked to low IQ or lack of creativity but rather the difficulty of capitalising on natural talents. I hope that Leonardo’s legacy can help us to change some of the stigma around ADHD.”

Da Vinci’s difficulties with sticking to tasks were pervasive from childhood. Accounts from biographers and contemporaries show he was constantly on the go, often hopping from task to task. Like many people with ADHD, he slept very little and worked continuously night and day by alternating rapid cycles of short naps and time awake.

Another distinctive trait was his voracious curiosity, which both propelled his creativity and also distracted him. Catani says that the mind-wandering trait commonly found in ADHD can fuel creativity and originality but be a hindrance when interest shifts to something else.

Alongside reports of erratic behavior and incomplete projects from fellow artists and patrons, including Pope Leone X, there is indirect evidence to suggest that da Vinci’s brain was organized differently compared to average. For example, he was left-handed and likely to be both dyslexic and have a dominance for language in the right-hand side of his brain, all of which are common among people with ADHD.

Source: King’s College London


Reading With Toddlers Can Benefit Kids and Parents Both

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 7:00am

People who regularly read with their toddlers are less likely to engage in harsh parenting, while their children are less likely to be hyperactive or disruptive, according to a new study.

Previous studies have shown that shared reading prepares children for school by building language, literacy, and emotional skills, but researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School say their study may be the first to focus on how shared reading affects parenting.

Published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the study shows that shared reading leads to additional benefits, including a stronger parent-child bond and less hyperactivity and attention problems in children.

“For parents, the simple routine of reading with your child on a daily basis provides not just academic but emotional benefits that can help bolster the child’s success in school and beyond,” said lead researcher Manuel Jimenez, an assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s department of pediatrics, and an attending developmental behavioral pediatrician at Children’s Specialized Hospital. “Our findings can be applied to programs that help parents and caregivers in underserved areas to develop positive parenting skills.”

For the study, researchers reviewed data on 2,165 mother-child pairs from 20 large U.S. cities. The women were asked how often they read to their children at ages 1 or 3. The mothers were re-interviewed two years later about how often they engaged in physically and/or psychologically aggressive discipline and about their children’s behavior.

The study controlled for factors such as parental depression and financial hardship that can contribute to harsh parenting and children’s disruptive behavior, the researchers reported.

The study’s findings showed that frequent shared reading at age 1 was associated with less harsh parenting at age 3, and frequent shared reading at age 3 was associated with less harsh parenting at age 5.

Mothers who read frequently with their children also reported fewer disruptive behaviors from their children, which may partially explain the reduction in harsh parenting behaviors, the researchers said.

Source: Rutgers

Kids’ Risk of Attempting Suicide Doubles If Parent Uses Opioids

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 6:30am

New research shows a connection between two epidemics in the U.S.: The rising suicide rate among young people and the increase in opioid abuse in adults.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh found that opioid use by a parent is associated with doubling the risk of suicide attempts by their children.

“Until now, there has been little focus on the association between the increase in opioid use among adults and the risk of suicidal behavior by their children,” said Robert D. Gibbons, Ph.D., Blum-Riese Professor of Biostatistics and director of the Center for Health Statistics at the University of Chicago and senior author of the paper.

“We theorized such a link was plausible because parental substance abuse is a known risk factor for suicide attempts by their children. In addition, depression and suicide attempts by parents — which are known to be related to suicidal behavior in their offspring — are more common among adults who abuse opioids.”

For the new study, researchers analyzed data from more than 240,000 parents, between the ages of 30 and 50, between 2010 and 2016. Half of the group had filled opioid prescriptions for at least 365 days. The other half had no history of using the drug during that time. The two groups were matched on a number of factors related to suicide attempts and opioid use.

Rates of suicide attempts were studied in more than 330,000 children, between the ages of 10 and 19, from these two groups of parents over the same six-year period.

Of the children whose parents used opioids, 678 (0.37 percent) attempted suicide. Of the sons and daughters of parents who did not use opioids, 212 (0.14 percent) made a suicide attempt, according to the study’s findings.

The researchers found that opioid use by a parent is associated with a doubling of the risk of suicide attempts by their children. The results were statistically significant even when adjusted for the child’s age and sex, depression, or substance use disorder in child or parent, and history of a suicide attempt in a parent.

“These findings demonstrate that opioid use by a parent or parents doubles the risk for suicidal behavior by their children,” said David A. Brent, M.D., psychiatrist and chair of suicide studies at the University of Pittsburgh, also an author on the paper. “The epidemics of adult opiate abuse and child suicidal behavior appear to be linked, and the disturbing upward trends in mortality due to opiates and due to child suicide may have common roots.”

The researchers call for improved diagnosis and treatment of parents who use opioids, as well as mental health screening and referral to care for their children.

“These actions could help reverse the upward trend in deaths due to the twin epidemics of suicide and opioid overdose,” Gibbons said.

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: University of Chicago Medical Center

European Study: Socioeconomic Status Strongly Tied to BMI in Kids

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 6:00am

A new European study finds a strong link between a family’s socioeconomic status and children’s body mass index (BMI).

The findings, published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, show that BMI differences emerge in the preschool years and continue to widen across childhood and into early adolescence.

“This research shows that inequalities in health and life expectancy start early in life and are well established by age 5,” said senior author Dr. Richard Layte, a professor of sociology at Trinity College in Dublin. “Most children who are obese have a higher risk of being obese in adulthood with long-term health consequences.”

For the study, researchers from Trinity College analyzed data on height and weight from 41,399 children measured over time in three European countries — Ireland, the U.K., and Portugal — using the mother’s highest level of education as a marker of socio-economic position.

The findings show that while there were no differences in BMI between children grouped by their mothers’ education in infancy, differences in BMI emerged by pre-school age (3-5 years) with children from primary- and secondary-educated maternal backgrounds gaining body mass at a faster rate compared with children whose mothers had higher education levels. These differences continued to widen as the children aged in all three countries.

In general, the authors found that children whose mothers had the lowest educational levels were more likely to be overweight or obese at any age compared with children whose mothers had the highest levels of education.

This is a worrying trend as children who are obese in early life are more likely to maintain this status into adolescence and adulthood, increasing risk for chronic disease later in life.

“This study shows that children from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds gain body mass more quickly than their more advantaged peers, are more likely to be overweight or obese from preschool age onwards, and are more likely to become obese if previously non-overweight,” said lead author Dr. Cathal McCrory, a research assistant professor in psychology at Trinity College.

“They are quite literally carrying a heavier burden of disease from much earlier in life. These findings reinforce the necessity of challenging the childhood obesity epidemic at early ages as these patterns are difficult to change once they have become entrenched. Urgent government action is now required to understand the material, social, and structural barriers that contribute to these stark socioeconomic differences in obesity risk.”

Source: Trinity College Dublin


New Psychotherapy Approach Helps Abused Kids

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 7:30am

A new developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy specializing on the situations and needs of teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 promises to improve care for this targeted group. German researchers developed the approach to improve both short and long-term outcomes for children who have suffered sexual or physical abuse.

Currently, about four to 16 percent of children in Western countries experience physical abuse; the percentage that experiences sexual abuse is between five and ten percent. Tragically, victims suffer in many areas of their lives including an increased risk for mental illness, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.

Victims of abuse often develop stressful symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety, sleep disorders and irritability. Things and situations that recall the traumatic events are often avoided. However, early treatment can help prevent long-term consequences.

The team, led by Dr Regina Steil at the Institute of Psychology at Goethe University, developed a developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy specializing on the situations and needs of teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21.

The protocol consists of 26 to 30 sessions over four to five months and is subdivided into four treatment phases.

After a period of getting to know the therapist, the teens first learn to regulate their emotions and apply strategies for dealing with stress. Only after this do they begin to process their thoughts and feelings about the sexual or physical abuse and gradually regain a sense of security and control.

A study has demonstrated that this new form of psychotherapy effectively reduces psychological stress.

The study, which appears in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry, was led by Professor Rita Rosner, Chair for Clinical and Biological Psychology at the Catholic University Eichstätt.

In the study, the young patients were randomly assigned either to the new psychotherapy or to a treatment that is usual in Germany. The control group was given the option to be treated according to the new therapy once the study was completed.

Toward the end of the therapy, or waiting period, the groups were compared with regard to psychological stress. The group that received the new therapy demonstrated significantly fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder than the control group.

Symptoms of other mental disorders, such as depression or borderline personality disorder, were also improved to a greater degree in this group.

These differences were still evident three months after therapy conclusion.

“The successful clinical trial of this new treatment represents an important step toward improving the treatment situation of traumatized youth and teens,” explains Dr. Steil.

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt

Study: Esketamine Nasal Spray Safe and Effective for Depression

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 7:00am

Emerging research supports the use of Esketamine nasal spray in treating depression among people who have not responded to previous treatment. Esketamine is revolutionary as it provides fast-acting treatment for people that have not responded to other depression treatments.

The study, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry, is one of the key studies that led to the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of esketamine nasal spray, in conjunction with an oral antidepressant, for use in people with treatment-resistant depression.

Depression is common, and as many as one-third of people with depression are considered treatment resistant — not finding relief from symptoms even after trying several antidepressants.

Details on the phase 3, double-blind, active-controlled study were presented by Michael Thase, MD, during the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. Thase, a study author, explained that the research was conducted at 39 outpatient centers from August 2015 to June 2017 and involved nearly 200 adults with moderate to severe depression and a history of not responding to at least two antidepressants.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was switched from their current treatment to esketamine nasal spray (56 or 84 mg twice weekly) plus a newly initiated antidepressant (duloxetine, escitalopram, sertraline, or extended-release venlafaxine).

The improvement in depression among those in the esketamine group was significantly greater than the placebo group at day 28. Similar improvements were seen at earlier points in time.

Adverse events in the esketamine group generally appeared shortly after taking the medication and resolved by 1.5 hours later while patients were in the clinic.

The most common side effects included dissociation, nausea, vertigo, dysgeusia (distortion of the sense of taste) and dizziness. Seven percent of patients in the esketamine group discontinued the study due to side effects.

“This trial of esketamine was one of the pivotal trials in the FDA’s review of this treatment for patients with treatment resistant depression. Not only was adjunctive esketamine therapy effective, the improvement was evident within the first 24 hours,” Thase said.

“The novel mechanism of action of esketamine, coupled with the rapidity of benefit, underpin just how important this development is for patients with difficult to treat depression.”

Despite the promising results and the approval by the FDA, some critical questions regarding the use of esketamine remain unanswered. In an accompanying commentary in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Alan Schatzberg, MD, at Stanford University School of Medicine, explains that information about the best use of esketamine is lacking, such as how long and how often to prescribe it. Use of the nasal spray also raises concerns about the potential for abuse.

While he notes that esketamine could be useful for many patients with depression, he cautions that “there are more questions than answers with intranasal esketamine, and care should be exercised in its application in clinical practice.”

The commentary describes esketamine’s relationship to ketamine, an anesthetic in use for decades that has also been used recreationally as a party drug.

While ketamine administered intravenously at sub-anesthetic doses is an effective treatment being used for refractory depression, at present, intravenous ketamine for the treatment of depression has not been approved by the FDA, although it can be prescribed off-label.

Ketamine is composed of molecules that are mirror images of each other (S-ketamine and R-ketamine). It is the intranasal formulation of the S-ketamine molecule (i.e., esketamine) that received FDA approval.

Source: American Psychiatry Association

Broccoli Sprout Compound May Help Restore Brain Chemistry Imbalance in Schizophrenia

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 6:00am

In a series of recently published studies in humans and animals, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have identified certain glutamate-related chemical imbalances in the brains of schizophrenia patients —  and that these imbalances may potentially be reversed using a compound derived from broccoli sprouts, known as sulforaphane.

“It’s possible that future studies could show sulforaphane to be a safe supplement to give people at risk of developing schizophrenia as a way to prevent, delay or blunt the onset of symptoms,” says Akira Sawa, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center.

Schizophrenia is a debilitating disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking, feelings, behaviors, perception and speaking. The current medications used to treat schizophrenia don’t work for everyone, and they can cause a variety of adverse side effects, including metabolic problems increasing cardiovascular risk, involuntary movements, restlessness, stiffness and “the shakes.”

In the first study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the research team looked for differences in brain metabolism between people with schizophrenia and healthy controls. They recruited 81 patients from the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center within 24 months of their first psychosis episode, as well as 91 healthy controls from the community. The participants were an average of 22 years old, and 58% were men.

The researchers used a powerful magnet to measure and compare five regions in the brain between participants with and without psychosis. A computer analysis of 7-Tesla magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) data identified individual chemical metabolites and their quantities.

On average, patients with psychosis had 4 percent less glutamate in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain, compared to healthy people. Glutamate is known for its role in sending messages between brain cells, and has been linked to depression and schizophrenia, so these findings added to evidence that glutamate levels have a role in schizophrenia.

Further, the researchers found a reduction of 3% of the chemical glutathione in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex and 8% in the thalamus. Glutathione is made of three smaller molecules, and one of them is glutamate.

Next, the researchers investigated how glutamate is managed in the brain and whether that management is faulty in disease. They first looked at how it’s stored. Since glutamate is a building block of glutathione, the researchers wanted to know if the brain might use glutathione as a way to store extra glutamate. And if so, the researchers wondered if they could use known drugs to shift this balance to either release glutamate from storage when there isn’t enough, or send it into storage if there is too much.

In another study, appearing in the journal PNAS, the team used the drug L-Buthionine sulfoximine in rat brain cells to block an enzyme that turns glutamate into glutathione, allowing it to be used up.

The team discovered that these nerves were more excited and fired faster, which means they were sending more messages to other brain cells. The researchers say shifting the balance this way is similar to the pattern found in the brains of people with schizophrenia.

Next, the researchers wanted to see if they could do the opposite and shift the balance to get more glutamate stored in the form of glutathione. They used the chemical sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts, which is known to turn on a gene that makes more of the enzyme that sticks glutamate with another molecule to make glutathione.

When they treated rat brain cells with glutathione, it slowed the speed at which the nerve cells fired, meaning they were sending fewer messages. This pushed the brain cells to behave less like the pattern found in brains with schizophrenia.

“We are thinking of glutathione as glutamate stored in a gas tank,” says Thomas Sedlak, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “If you have a bigger gas tank, you have more leeway on how far you can drive, but as soon as you take the gas out of the tank it’s burned up quickly. We can think of those with schizophrenia as having a smaller gas tank.”

Next, the researchers wanted to test whether sulforaphane could change glutathione levels in healthy people’s brains and see if this could eventually be a strategy for people with mental disorders.

In this experiment, published in the journal Molecular Neuropsychiatry, the researchers recruited nine healthy volunteers (four women, five men) to take two capsules with 100 micromoles daily of sulforaphane in the form of broccoli sprout extract for seven days.

A few of the participants said they were gassy and some had stomach upset when eating the capsules on an empty stomach, but overall the sulforaphane was relatively well tolerated.

The researchers found that after seven days, there was about a 30% increase in average glutathione levels in the healthy subjects’ brains. For example, in the hippocampus, glutathione levels rose an average of 0.27 millimolar from a baseline of 1.1 millimolar after seven days of taking sulforaphane.

The scientists say further research is needed to determine whether sulforaphane can safely reduce symptoms of psychosis or hallucinations in people with schizophrenia. They would also need to determine an optimal dose and see how long people must take it to observe an effect.

The researchers warn that the findings don’t justify or demonstrate the value of using commercially available sulforaphane supplements to treat or prevent schizophrenia, and patients should consult their physicians before trying any kind of over-the-counter supplement. Versions of sulforaphane supplements are sold in health food stores and at vitamin counters, and aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“For people predisposed to heart disease, we know that changes in diet and exercise can help stave off the disease, but there isn’t anything like that for severe mental disorders yet,” says Sedlak. “We are hoping that we will one day make some mental illness preventable to a certain extent.”

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Use Exercise to Improve Teen Sleep

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 5:30am

Getting good sleep is especially important during adolescence as teens are developing cognitive skills, learning to mitigate stress and formulating lifelong health behavioral habits.

While previous research suggests that adolescents need eight to ten hours of sleep a night, recent estimates suggest that as many as 73 percent of adolescents are getting less than eight.

In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Penn State researchers discovered that getting more exercise than normal — or being more sedentary than usual — for one day may be enough to affect sleep later that night.

Investigators performed a one-week micro-longitudinal study and found that when teenagers got more physical activity than they usually did, they got to sleep earlier, slept longer and slept better that night.

Specifically, the team found that for every extra hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the teens fell asleep 18 minutes earlier, slept 10 minutes longer and had about one percent greater sleep maintenance efficiency that night.

“Adolescence is a critical period to obtain adequate sleep, as sleep can affect cognitive and classroom performance, stress, and eating behaviors,” said Lindsay Master, data scientist at Penn State.

“Our research suggests that encouraging adolescents to spend more time exercising during the day may help their sleep health later that night.”

Furthermore, the researchers also found that being sedentary more during the day was associated with worse sleep health. When participants were sedentary for more minutes during the day, they fell asleep and woke up later but slept for a shorter amount of time overall.

The paradox between obtaining additional physical activity and being a couch potato is revealing. Orfeu Buxton, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said the findings help illuminate the complex relationship between physical activity and sleep.

“You can think of these relationships between physical activity and sleep almost like a teeter totter,” Buxton said.
“When you’re getting more steps, essentially, your sleep begins earlier, expands in duration, and is more efficient. Whereas if you’re spending more time sedentary, it’s like sitting on your sleep health: sleep length and quality goes down.”

Previous research has also found that people who are generally more physically active tend to sleep longer and have better sleep quality. But the researchers said less has been known about whether day-to-day changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior affected sleep length and quality.

For this study, the researchers used data from 417 participants in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, a national cohort from 20 United States cities. When the participants were 15 years old, they wore accelerometers on their wrists and hips to measure sleep and physical activity for one week.

“One of the strengths of this study was using the devices to get precise measurements about sleep and activity instead of asking participants about their own behavior, which can sometimes be skewed,” Master said.

“The hip device measured activity during the day, and the wrist device measured what time the participants fell asleep and woke up, and also how efficiently they slept, which means how often they were sleeping versus tossing and turning.”

In addition to finding links between how physical activity affects sleep later that night, the researchers also found connections between sleep and activity the following day.

They found that when participants slept longer and woke up later, they engaged in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sedentary behavior the next day.

“This finding might be related to a lack of time and opportunity the following day,” Master said. “We can’t know for sure, but it’s possible that if you’re sleeping later into the day, you won’t have as much time to spend exercising or even being sedentary.”

Buxton said improving health is something that can, and should, take place over time.

“Becoming our best selves means being more like our best selves more often,” Buxton said.

“We were able to show that the beneficial effects of exercise and sleep go together, and that health risk behaviors like sedentary time affect sleep that same night. So if we can encourage people to engage in more physical activity and better sleep health behaviors on a more regular basis, it could improve their health over time.”

In the future, the researchers will continue to follow up with the participants to see how health and health risk behaviors continue to interact, and how sleep health influences thriving in early adulthood.

Source: Penn State University

‘Augmented Reality’ Experiences Can Influence Later Behavior

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 7:00am

As major technology firms ramp up production of augmented reality products, a new study from Stanford researchers assessed how the virtual experiences will affect people’s behavior – in the both the physical world and a digitally enhanced one.

In recent years, companies have focused on developing augmented reality goggles and other products, shifting away from their previous emphasis on virtual reality. While VR attempts to simulate a real-life environment and take the user out of the present setting, AR technology layers digital information atop the user’s physical surroundings.

Dr. Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication in the School of Humanities and Sciences, found that after people had an experience in augmented reality (AR) – simulated by wearing goggles that layer computer-generated content onto real-world environments – their interactions in their physical world changed as well, even with the AR device removed.

For example, people avoided sitting on a chair they had just seen a virtual person sit on.

Researchers also found that participants appeared to be influenced by the presence of a virtual person in a similar way they would be if a real person were next to them.

“We’ve discovered that using augmented reality technology can change where you walk, how you turn your head, how well you do on tasks, and how you connect socially with other physical people in the room,” said Bailenson.

Bailenson co-authored the PLOS ONE paper with graduate students Mark Roman Miller, Hanseul Jun and Fernanda Herrera.

Bailenson said today’s AR goggles can project a realistic, 3D version of an actual person in real time onto the physical surroundings of the goggles-wearer. This allows for groups of people across the world to make eye contact and communicate nonverbally in other nuanced ways – something that video conferencing struggles to achieve.

“AR could help the climate change crisis by allowing realistic virtual meetings, which would avoid the need for gas to commute or flying to meetings in person,” Bailenson said.

“And this research can help bring attention to the possible social consequences of AR use at a large scale, so the technology can be designed to avoid these issues before becoming ubiquitous.”

To examine how AR affected the way people behaved in social situations, researchers recruited 218 participants and conducted three studies. In the first two experiments, each participant interacted with a virtual avatar named Chris who would sit on a real chair in front of them.

The first study replicated a traditional psychology finding known as social inhibition. Just as people complete easy tasks with ease and struggle with more challenging ones when they have a person watching them in the real world, the same held true when an avatar was watching study participants in augmented reality, the researchers found.

Study participants completed easy anagrams faster but performed poorly on the complex ones when avatar Chris was visible in their AR field of vision.

Another study tested whether participants would follow accepted social cues when interacting with avatar Chris. This was measured by tracking whether participants would sit on the chair that avatar Chris previously sat on.

Researchers found that all participants who wore the AR headset sat on the empty chair next to Chris instead of sitting right on the avatar. Of those participants who were asked to take off the headset before choosing their seat, 72 percent still chose to sit in the empty chair next to where Chris sat previously.

“The fact that not a single one of the subjects with headsets took the seat where the avatar sat was a bit of a surprise,” Bailenson said.

“These results highlight how AR content integrates with your physical space, affecting the way you interact with it. The presence of AR content also appears to linger after the goggles are taken off.”

In the third study, researchers examined how AR affects the social connection between two people who are having a conversation while one of them wears an AR headset. Researchers found that those wearing AR goggles reported feeling less socially connected to their conversation partner.

Bailenson said that additional studies, which he and his team are now working on, are needed to further examine the effects of augmented reality.

“This paper scratches the surface of the social-psychological costs and benefits of AR use, but much research is needed to understand the effects of this technology as it scales,” the researchers wrote.

Source: Stanford University

Childhood Trauma Tied to Teen Violence, Depression

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 6:00am

Children from poor urban areas who are exposed to traumatic events such as physical and emotional neglect, violence, and sexual abuse are more likely to experience depression and violence in the teen years, according to a new worldwide study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The findings, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, also show that boys tend to face even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return.

“This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence with terrible, lifelong consequences,” said Dr. Robert Blum, lead researcher for the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), based in countries across five continents.

The researchers catalogued the ACEs suffered by 1,284 adolescents (ages 10 to 14) in 14 low-income urban settings around the world. They discovered remarkably common experiences with trauma, and very similar impacts, regardless of where the children lived: Vietnam, China, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Kenya, U.K. and the United States.

The study is the first to include an evaluation of how adversity impacts young children in multiple low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of the 1.8 billion 10- to 24-year-olds worldwide live; about a quarter of the global population.

Overall, the study found that 46 percent of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38 percent suffered emotional neglect and 29 percent experienced physical neglect. Boys were more likely to report physical neglect, sexual abuse and violence victimization.

Also, for both boys and girls, the more adversity they experienced, the more likely they were to engage in violent behaviors, such as bullying, threatening or hitting someone. But the effect of the adversity was more pronounced for boys than girls, with boys 11 times more likely to be engaged in violence, and girls four times more likely to be violent.

Also, the study found that, in general, the cumulative effect of their traumas tended to produce higher levels of depressive symptoms among girls than boys, while boys tended to show more external aggression than girls.

The study is part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, a major collaboration of the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project seeks to understand more about the development of gender stereotypes in early adolescence and their impact on adolescent health around the world.

And the new findings support a key conclusion from a major new report being presented at Women Deliver in Vancouver based on a global coalition of adolescent health experts: that the world will never achieve gender equality “by focusing on girls and women alone and excluding boys and men.”

That report, from the Bellagio Working Group on Gender Equality, reflects the assessment of 22 experts from 15 countries. Their analysis, Achieving Gender Equality by 2030: Putting Adolescents at the Center, finds that boys have as equal a part to play as girls in achieving the fifth of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal, which seeks to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. The report warns that “we cannot achieve a gender equitable world by ignoring half of its occupants.”

Source: Burness

Managing Gut Bacteria May Help Relieve Anxiety

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 9:30pm

People who suffer from anxiety symptoms may find some relief by regulating their gut microorganisms through the use of both probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements, according to a new review of studies published in the journal General Psychiatry.

Increasingly, research has shown that gut microbiota — the trillions of microorganisms in the gut which perform important functions in the immune system and metabolism by providing essential inflammatory mediators, nutrients and vitamins — can help regulate brain function through the “gut-brain axis.”

Recent research also suggests that mental disorders can be treated by regulating the intestinal microbiota, but some of this evidence has been conflicting. A research team from the Shanghai Mental Health Center at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China conducted an analysis to determine if there is any solid evidence supporting the improvement of anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota.

Intestinal microbiota can be altered through the use of probiotic supplements or other non-supplement ways like changing one’s diet. Probiotics are living organisms found naturally in some foods and are considered “good” or “friendly” bacteria, because they fight against harmful bacteria.

The researchers looked at 21 studies involving 1,503 people collectively. Of these, 14 studies had chosen probiotics as interventions to regulate intestinal microbiota (IRIFs), and seven chose non-probiotic ways, such as adjusting daily diets.

Importantly, the researchers found that the probiotic supplements used in seven of these studies contained only one kind of probiotic; two studies used a product that contained two kinds of probiotics; and the supplements used in the other five studies included at least three kinds.

In total, 11 of the 21 studies showed a positive effect on anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota, meaning that more than half (52 percent) of the studies showed this approach to be effective, although some studies that had used this approach did not find it worked.

Of the 14 studies that had used probiotics as an intervention, more than a third (36 percent) found them to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, while six of the remaining seven studies that had used non-probiotics ways to regulate the gut found those to be effective — an 86% rate of effectiveness.

Some studies had used both the IRIF approach and treatment as usual. In the five studies that used treatment as usual and IRIF as interventions, only studies that had conducted non-probiotic ways got positive results, that showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

Non-probiotic interventions were also more effective in the studies that used IRIF alone. In those studies only using IRIF, 80 percent were effective when using non-probiotic interventions, while only 45 percent were found to be effective when using probiotic ways.

The authors say one reason that non-probiotic interventions were more effective than probiotic supplement interventions may be due to the fact that changing one’s diet (a diverse energy source) could have more of an impact on gut bacteria growth than introducing specific types of bacteria in a probiotic supplement.

In addition, since some studies had involved introducing different types of probiotics, these could have fought against each other to work effectively, and many of the intervention times used might have been too short to significantly increase the abundance of the imported bacteria.

“We find that more than half of the studies included showed it was positive to treat anxiety symptoms by regulation of intestinal microbiota,” write the researchers.

“There are two kinds of interventions (probiotic and non-probiotic interventions) to regulate intestinal microbiota, and it should be highlighted that the non-probiotic interventions were more effective than the probiotic interventions. More studies are needed to clarify this conclusion since we still cannot run meta-analysis so far.”

They also suggest that, in addition to the use of psychiatric drugs for treatment, “we can also consider regulating intestinal flora to alleviate anxiety symptoms.”

Source: BMJ


Rapid Change in Weight Linked to Higher Dementia Risk in Older Adults

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 7:00am

Older adults who experience significant weight gain or loss within a couple of years may be at greater risk of dementia, according to a new Korean study published in the journal BMJ Open.

Dementia is a critical public health issue considering our aging population and the increased life expectancy. In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people were diagnosed with dementia. Meanwhile, the global prevalence of obesity, which is closely related to cardiometabolic diseases, has increased by more than 100 percent over the past four decades.

Previous research has shown a link between cardiometabolic risk factors (such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels) and dementia. However, the association between body mass index (BMI) in late-life and dementia risk remains unclear. To address this gap, a research team from the Republic of Korea set out to investigate the link between BMI changes over a two-year period and dementia in an elderly Korean population.

They evaluated 67,219 participants ages 60 to 79 years who underwent BMI measurement in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 as part of the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort in the country.

At the start of the study period, the participants’ BMI, socioeconomic status and cardiometabolic risk factors were established. The difference between BMI at the start of the study period and at the next health screening (2004-2005) was used to calculate the change in BMI.

After two years, the incidence of dementia was monitored for an average 5.3 years from 2008 to 2013. During the 5.3-year follow up, the numbers of men and women with dementia totaled 4,887 and 6,685, respectively.

The results show a significant association between late-life BMI changes and dementia in both sexes. Rapid weight change — a 10 percent or higher increase or decrease in BMI — over a two-year period was linked to a greater risk of dementia compared with a person with a stable BMI.

However, the BMI at the start of the period was not associated with dementia incidence in either sex, with the exception of low body weight in men.

After breaking down the figures based on BMI at the start of the study period, the researchers found a similar association between BMI change and dementia in the normal weight subgroup, but the pattern of this association varied in other BMI ranges.

Cardiometabolic risk factors including pre-existing hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes and high fasting blood sugar were significant risk factors for dementia.

In particular, participants with high fasting blood sugar had a 1.6-fold higher risk of developing dementia compared to those with normal or pre-high fasting blood sugar. Furthermore, unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, frequent drinking and less physical activity in late life were also linked to dementia.

This is an observational study, so it cannot establish cause, and the researchers point to some limitations, including uncertainty around the accuracy of the definition of dementia and reliance on people’s self-reported lifestyle habits, which may not be accurate. However, the study involved a large amount of data and reported various modifiable risk factors of dementia in late life.

As such, the researchers conclude “Both weight gain and weight loss may be significant risk factors associated with dementia. This study revealed that severe weight gain, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking and less physical activity in late-life had a detrimental effect on dementia development.”

“Our results suggest that continuous weight control, disease management and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle are beneficial in the prevention of dementia, even in later life.”

Source: BMJ


Poll: 1 in 3 Think Social Media Can Damage Mental Health

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 6:00am

A new poll released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) suggests Americans generally believe social media has a more negative than positive influence on mental and emotional well-being.

The APA sponsored poll was conducted online from a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults during the period April 4-7, 2019, and from similar polls of about 1,000 adults in March 2018 and April 2017.

Researchers discovered more than one in three adults (38 percent) see social media usage as harmful to mental health, whereas nearly half (45 percent) see social media usage as having both positive and negative impact on mental health. Only 5 percent see it as having a positive impact.

Experts explain that while social media can help connect people, it can also leave people feeling more isolated. When asked about the connection between social media and loneliness, more than two-thirds of adults (67 percent) agree social media usage is related to feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Opinions on social media vary by generation and ethnicity. Millennials are more likely (73 percent) than baby boomers (62 percent) to agree with the connection between social media and loneliness.

African Americans (33 percent) are more likely than Caucasians (22 percent) or Hispanics (25 percent) to completely agree on this relationship between social media and loneliness.

Survey results revealed a stronger consensus on the effects of social medial among children and teens. Indeed, across ages, gender and ethnicities, people expressed concern about social media use among children and teens.

Nearly nine in ten adults (88 percent) think social media activity among kids/teens is concerning. The level of concern was also similar among people with children and those without children.

Positive use of social media to augment mental health was reported. About one in seven adults (14 percent) use a social media app to support their mental health. Not unexpectedly, younger adults are much more likely than older adults to do so.

Nearly a quarter of millennials (24 percent) say they use a social media app to support their mental health compared to only 3 percent of baby boomers.

Hispanic Americans (27 percent) and African Americans (17 percent) are more likely than Caucasians (9 percent) to say they use a social media app to support their mental health.

“These results reflect Americans concern with use of social media and its potential negative impacts,” said APA President Altha Stewart, M.D.

“While social media can have benefits and help keep us connected to friends and family, it’s important for adults, and for children and teens, to balance social media use with other activities and connecting with others in real life.”

Source: American Psychiatry Association

Regular Word and Number Puzzles Tied to Sharper Mind in Older Adults

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 7:00am

Older adults who regularly play word and number puzzles tend to have sharper brain function, according to new U.K. research published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning,” said study leader Dr. Anne Corbett from the University of Exeter Medical School in England.

“The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance. In some areas the improvement was quite dramatic — on measures of problem-solving, people who regularly do these puzzles performed equivalent to an average of eight years younger compared to those who don’t.”

The researchers have presented previous findings on word puzzles at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in 2018. The new research, which involved more than 19,000 participants, builds on these findings and also reports the same effect in people who regularly complete number puzzles.

“We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer,” said Corbett.

The study used participants in the PROTECT online platform run by the University of Exeter and Kings College London. Currently, more than 22,000 healthy people ages 50 and 96 are registered in the study, and the study is expanding into other countries including Hong Kong and the U.S. The online platform enables researchers to conduct and manage large-scale studies without the need for laboratory visits.

For the current experiment, the researchers asked PROTECT participants to report how frequently they engage in word and number puzzles and to complete a series of cognitive tests sensitive to measuring changes in brain function.

They discovered that the more regularly participants engaged with the puzzles, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.

Based on these results, the researchers calculate that people who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their age, on tests assessing grammatical reasoning and eight years younger than their age on tests measuring short term memory.

“PROTECT is proving to be one of the most exciting research initiatives of this decade, allowing us to understand more about how the brain ages and to conduct cutting-edge new studies into how we can reduce the risk of dementia in people across the U.K.,” said Dr. Clive Ballard, Professor of Age-Related Diseases at the University of Exeter Medical School.

“If you’re aged 50 or over, you could sign up to take part in research that will help us all maintain healthy brains as we age.”

Source: University of Exeter


Teens with ADHD Far More Likely to Engage in Risky Driving, Get Into Accidents

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 6:00am

A new large-scale study finds that teen drivers with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are significantly more likely to get into car accidents, be issued traffic and moving violations, and engage in risky driving behaviors, compared to their non-ADHD peers.

An estimated 6.1 million children ages 2 to 17 living in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of these young people with ADHD are potential drivers, and safe transportation is a growing concern.

Evidence-based guidance to clinicians and families is urgently needed to protect these drivers, as well as others on the road.

“What this study suggests is that we have to go beyond current recommendations of medication and delaying the age of getting licensed to decrease crash risk for teens with ADHD,” said Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and a Senior Scientist and Director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP).

“Their higher rate of citations suggest that risky driving behaviors may account for why they crash more. More research is needed to objectively measure if and how these behaviors specifically contribute to crash risk.”

For the study, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Center for Management of ADHD analyzed detailed crash and traffic violation records for newly licensed drivers. This included 14,936 adolescents who were patients at six CHOP primary care practices in New Jersey and had obtained an intermediate driver’s license between January 2004 and December 2014.

The researchers linked the teens’ electronic health data with New Jersey driver licensing records, traffic violations, and police-reported crash data. Within this group, they identified 1,769 adolescents with childhood-diagnosed ADHD who had received an intermediate driver’s license during the study period, and compared their crash outcomes with those of the drivers without ADHD.

Although crash risk is higher for all newly licensed drivers, the team found it is 62 percent higher for those with ADHD the first month after getting licensed, and 37 percent higher during the first four years after licensure, regardless of their age when licensed.

Drivers with ADHD also experienced higher rates of specific crash types, including driving with passengers, at-fault-, single vehicle-, injury- and alcohol-related crashes, the last risk being 109 percent higher than those without ADHD.

The rates of traffic and moving violations were also significantly higher among young drivers with ADHD: Nearly 37 percent were issued a traffic violation and almost 27 percent a moving violation within their first year of driving, compared to 25 percent and 18 percent respectively among their peers without ADHD.

Drivers with ADHD also had higher rates of alcohol or drug violations and moving violations (including speeding, nonuse of seat belts, and electronic equipment use). Their rate was 3.5 times that of young drivers without ADHD in the first year of driving and 1.5 times that of young drivers without ADHD in the first four years of driving.

Because these behaviors can be changed, the findings suggest that clinicians and families can work with this at-risk group of teens to practice safe driving behaviors and potentially reduce their crash risk.

“We need additional research to understand the specific mechanisms by which ADHD symptoms influence crash risk so that we can develop skills training and behavioral interventions to reduce the risk for newly licensed drivers with ADHD,” said Thomas J. Power, Ph.D., ABPP, study co-author and director of the Center for Management of ADHD at CHOP.

“There’s not enough research currently being conducted on older adolescents and young adults with ADHD, particularly studies focused on promoting safe driving behavior.”

The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Mom’s Support When Dad Cares for Baby Key to How He Sees Their Relationship

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 7:26pm

How a new father feels about his changing relationship with his partner may depend in part on how much support he feels from her when he is caring for their baby, according to a new study published in the journal Family Process.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that a first-time dad tends to feel closer to the mother both as a co-parent and as a romantic partner when he believes he has her confidence when he is taking care of the baby.

“Fathers are more involved than they have ever been in parenting, but moms are still seen in our society as the expert caregivers,” said Anna Olsavsky, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“So how mothers react to their partners’ parenting matters a lot. It affects how new dads feel about their whole family situation, including his relationship with his wife or partner.”

This study, which involved 182 relatively affluent, highly educated dual-earner couples, is one of a few to focus on the transition to parenthood from the perspective of fathers, said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, study co-author and professor of psychology at Ohio State. “It’s still rare to examine the father’s view on family processes.”

The researchers used data from the New Parents Project, a long-term study co-led by Schoppe-Sullivan that is investigating how dual-earner couples adjust to becoming parents for the first time. The couples were assessed four times: when the mother was in her third trimester of pregnancy and when the baby was 3, 6 and 9 months old.

When the baby was 3 months old, fathers answered questions about what researchers call “maternal gatekeeping,” or how much the mother inhibits or welcomes the father’s involvement in child care.

Fathers reported how much they felt their partner “opened” or “closed” the gate on them when it came to interacting with the baby.

For example, each dad reported on gate-closing behaviors, such as how often his partner took over baby-related tasks because she thought he wasn’t doing them properly or how often she gave him irritated looks about his caretaking.

Examples of gate opening include encouraging the father to help bathe the baby or mom expressing her appreciation for his parenting help.

When the baby was 6 months old, the new dads were asked about their co-parenting closeness with their partner. For example, they rated how much they felt they were “growing and maturing together through experiences as parents.”

Finally, when the baby was 9 months old, the fathers rated how good they felt about their romantic relationship with their partner.

The findings reveal that whether the mother “opened” or “closed” the gate on the father had a significant impact on how he felt about their relationship as a couple.

“If mothers are critical and less supportive of their partners’ parenting, it could have ramifications for the whole family dynamic,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

“Fathers may not only do less child care, they may have more negative views on their relationship with their wife or partner.”

But the flip side was also true: Gate opening had a positive effect on how the new dad viewed their relationship.

“There has been some work suggesting that gate opening may be viewed by fathers negatively as demands for them to be more involved in child rearing, but that’s not what we found,” Olsavsky said. “Gate opening was perceived positively by fathers. They felt it improved their relationship as a couple.”

The researchers emphasized that it is important for both new parents to support each other, but because of societal norms, fathers may need extra support.

“There is this underlying assumption that mothers are the experts when it comes to parenting. And they have more sources of support in society when it comes to how to be a good parent,” Olsavsky said. “But fathers don’t generally get that support from society. The only support they often get as parents is from their partner. That’s why it is so important.”

Source: Ohio State University

Some Concussion Patients Suffer from Persistent Fatigue, Poor Brain Function

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 7:00am

A recent Australian study sheds new light on the debilitating effects of persistent post-concussion symptoms (PCS) felt by approximately 10 percent of concussion patients. Lingering concussion symptoms often include significant levels of fatigue and poorer brain function, which can persist for months, or even years, following concussion.

For the study, concussion expert Professor Alan Pearce from La Trobe University in Melbourne used innovative brain technology to look into how we can better understand and diagnose PCS, and in turn, pursue better treatment options.

“Whether it’s a fall at home or tackle on the field, concussion can affect anyone. But it’s the persistent post-concussion symptoms, sometimes occurring weeks and sometimes months after the initial trauma, that are so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” said Pearce.

“Mild traumatic brain injuries are the most common injury, and concussions account for 80 percent of those, so this is a big issue for Australia.”

“For the first time, we used two types of technology to measure signals sent to the brain and signals sent from the brain. From this, we could assess the brain’s functioning in a way that has never been done before.”

For example, this technology was able to identify specific brain mechanisms — increased cortical inhibition and altered central information processing — which may be tied to the high fatigue levels. These lingering symptoms, such as fatigue and slow reaction times, could not be detected in previous trials, which tested only cognition, and they cannot be seen in an MRI scan.

Pearce says the new findings give doctors another opportunity to diagnose these persisting symptoms of concussion. They also give people who might be suffering the symptoms long after the initial trauma a good reason to get seen by a medical professional.

The findings are published in the journal Neuroscience.

Source: La Trobe University

Study: Fast Walkers Tend to Live Longer

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 6:30am

Fast walkers tend to have a longer life expectancy than slower walkers, regardless of the person’s body weight or obesity status, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre in the U.K.

The research, using data of 474,919 people from the UK Biobank, shows that people with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status, from underweight to morbidly obese. Underweight individuals with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women). The same pattern of results was found for waist circumference measurements.

“Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on life expectancy of individuals,” said Professor Tom Yates, professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester in England and a lead author of the study.

“In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”

In another recent study, Yates and his team showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.

That study, which also used data from the UK Biobank, showed that slow walkers were twice as likely to have a heart-related death as fast walkers, even when other risk factors such as smoking and body mass index were taken into account.

“Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk…” said Dr. Francesco Zaccardi, clinical epidemiologist at the Leicester Diabetes Centre and co-author of the study.

“However, it is not always easy to interpret a ‘relative risk,’” he said. “Reporting in terms of life expectancy, conversely, is easier to interpret and gives a better idea of the separate and joint importance of body mass index and physical fitness.”

The study is published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Source: National Institute for Health Research