Archive for July 25th, 2012
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Drug Use And Antisocial Behavior Strongly Linked With Adolescent Pregnancy
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Numerous studies have been conducted on the impacting factors for pregnancy outcomes in young women, yet so far, no study has established which of these factors are the most important and the impact of depression on pregnancy outcomes is particularly unclear.
Researchers from Norway’s Institute of Public Health and the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute together with Australian researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne have now discovered that the most significant risks for becoming pregnant and abortions in young adulthood are adolescent antisocial and drug use behavior.
The researchers examined the link between depressive symptoms in 14 to 18 year old adolescent girls and their pregnancy outcomes aged between 21 to 24 years as young adults.
The research included data from 988 young Australian women who participated in The Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, a longitudinal study who were followed from age 14 in 1992 until today.
The team defined pregnancy outcomes as becoming pregnant, as well as completing and/or terminating a pregnancy. The researchers checked participants for depressive symptoms six times during adolescence. Pregnancy outcomes were evaluated twice during young adulthood.
The participants were also surveyed in terms of their degree of antisocial behavior, including vandalism, car damage, graffiti, fighting, theft and expulsion from school and drug use, including smoking, cannabis and alcohol during their teenage years in order to assess other possible influences on pregnancy outcomes. The researchers also took into consideration the women’s socio-economic data, including parental education and marital status and discovered an elevated risk of pregnancy in those who reported high depressive symptoms on several occasions during adolescence in comparison with those who reported no such symptoms.
However, the researchers observed that this link was eliminated when they considered the participants’ antisocial and drug use behavior, as well as socio-economic variables. They noted, in particular, that adolescent antisocial and drug use behavior had the strongest link to becoming pregnant and having an abortion in young adulthood.
Leading author, Wendy Nilsen, said:
“The findings support previous research that suggests a relationship between depression and pregnancy outcomes, but indicate that this relationship either is confounded with or can be explained by antisocial and drug use behavior.”
The research therefore demonstrates the importance of accounting for other possible causal factors in addition to the factor of initial interest.
” The findings are useful because they underscore the relationship between antisocial and drug use behavior and pregnancy outcomes in young women. More studies are nevertheless needed before one can say anything clear about the causal relations, but the results suggest that selectively helping young people with a history of antisocial and drug use behavior may improve the future sexual and reproductive health outcomes in this group.”
The findings are also significant in relation to earlier research that was mainly based on pregnancy outcomes in teenagers, and not in young adults. Whilst in 1971, the average age of first-time mothers in most Western countries was 25 years, nowadays the term “early pregnancy” also applies to pregnancy in young adulthood with first-time mothers average age being 31 years.
The study outcome indicates that some of the same factors, such as antisocial and drug use behavior, which are linked to pregnancy outcomes in teenagers also relate to pregnancy outcomes in young adult women. The researchers suggest that the difference in the average age of first-time mothers validates further studies into pregnancy, lifestyle and mental health, and Nilsen concludes: “Further research could look at whether getting pregnant in young adulthood affects some life role transitions, such as establishing a career and/or family.”
Petra Rattue. “Drug Use And Antisocial Behavior Strongly Linked With Adolescent Pregnancy.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 25 Jul. 2012. Web.
25 Jul. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248269.php>
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
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Children whose fathers are more engaged with them at 3 months have fewer behavioral problems at 12 months, according to new research.
Researchers at the University of Oxford studied 192 families recruited from two maternity units in the UK to see whether there was a link between father-child interactions in the early postnatal period and the child’s behavior.
“We found that children whose fathers were more engaged in the interactions had better outcomes, with fewer subsequent behavioral problems,” said Dr. Paul Ramchandani, who led the study.
“At the other end of the scale, children tended to have greater behavioral problems when their fathers were more remote and lost in their own thoughts, or when their fathers interacted less with them.”
The association tended to be stronger for boys than for girls, suggesting that boys may be more susceptible to the influence of their fathers from a very early age, he said.
“We don’t yet know whether the fathers being more remote and disengaged are actually causing the behavioral problems in the children, but it does raise the possibility that these early interactions are important,” he added.
The researchers believe there are a number of possible explanations for the link. The lack of engagement by the father could reflect wider problems in family relationships, with fathers who are in a more troubled relationship with their partners finding it more challenging to engage with their infants, they said.
Alternatively, it may reflect a lack of supervision and care for the infant, resulting in an increase in behavioral problems.
Another possibility is that the infant’s behavior represents its attempts to elicit a parental reaction in response to an earlier lack of parental engagement, the researchers said.
“Focusing on the infant’s first few months is important as this is a crucial period for development and the infant is very susceptible to environmental influences, such as the quality of parental care and interaction,” Ramchandani said.
“As every parent knows, raising a child is not an easy task. Our research adds to a growing body of evidence which suggests that intervening early to help parents can make a positive impact on how their infant develops.”
The research was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Source: Wellcome Trust
In a new area of study, researchers explore how brain mechanisms for memory retrieval differ between adults and children.
Neuroscientists from Wayne State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that while the memory systems are the same in many ways, the aging process appears to impart important differences in how we learn and respond to education.
Noa Ofen, Ph.D., an assistant professor in WSU’s Institute of Gerontology and Department of Pediatrics, says that cognitive ability, including the ability to learn and remember new information, dramatically changes between childhood and adulthood.
This ability parallels with dramatic changes that occur in the structure and function of the brain during these periods.
In the study, Ofen and her collaborative team tested the development of neural foundations of memory from childhood to young adulthood.
Researchers did this by exposing participants to pictures of scenes and then showing them the same scenes mixed with new ones. They then and asked them to judge whether each picture was presented earlier.
Participants made retrieval judgments while researchers collected images of their brains with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Using this method, the researchers were able to see how the brain remembers. “Our results suggest that cortical regions related to attentional or strategic control show the greatest developmental changes for memory retrieval,” said Ofen.
This finding suggests that older participants use the cortical regions of the brain to retrieve past memories more so than younger participants.
“We were interested to see whether there are changes in the connectivity of regions in the brain that support memory retrieval,” Ofen added.
“We found changes in connectivity of memory-related regions. In particular, the developmental change in connectivity between regions was profound even without a developmental change in the recruitment of those regions, suggesting that functional brain connectivity is an important aspect of developmental changes in the brain.”
Researchers say this study is unique as it is the first time that the development of connectivity within memory systems in the brain has been tested.
Findings suggest the brain continues to rearrange connections to achieve adult-like performance during development.
Future studies by Ofen and her research team will focus on modeling brain network connectivity, and applying these methods to study abnormal brain development.
The team’s findings are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Source: Wayne State University