Posts Tagged Parenting
Natural childbirth is a major cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research.
A Tel Aviv University researcher has discovered that approximately one-third of all postpartum women exhibit some symptoms of PTSD, and a smaller percentage develop full-blown PTSD following labor.
Of the women who developed symptoms, 80 percent opted for natural childbirth without pain relief, reported Professor Rael Strous of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Other significant factors identified in the study include the woman’s body image, including discomfort about being in an undressed state for a relatively prolonged period of labor and undergoing elective Caesarean sections; fear during labor; and complications in not only this pregnancy, but in earlier ones as well.
Researchers interviewed 89 post-partum women between the ages of 20 and 40, first within five days after delivery and then again one month after delivery.
They discovered that of these women, 25.9 percent displayed symptoms of PTSD, 7.8 percent suffered from partial PTSD, and 3.4 percent exhibited symptoms of full-blown PTSD.
Symptoms included flashbacks of the labor, the avoidance of discussion of the event, physical reactions, such as heart palpitations during such discussions, and a reluctance to consider having another child.
According to Strous, one of the most influential factors was pain management during delivery. Of the women who experienced PTSD symptoms, 80 percent had gone through a natural childbirth, without any form of pain relief.
“The less pain relief there was, the higher the woman’s chances of developing post-partum PTSD,” he said. Of the women who did not develop any PTSD symptoms, only 48 percent experienced a natural childbirth, he added.
A full 80 percent of the PTSD group reported feeling discomfort with being unclothed, and 67 percent had previous pregnancies which they described as traumatic. Fear of the labor itself, both in terms of expected pain levels and danger to themselves and their children, was also influential.
The researchers also discovered that support during labor, in the form of a midwife or doula, had no impact when it came to avoiding PTSD symptoms. Other factors, such as socioeconomic and marital status, level of education, and religion, also had no effect.
Strous suggests doctors become familiar with the profile of women more disposed to suffer from PTSD symptoms, and be on the look-out for warning signs after labor. He also advocates additional research to develop better treatment plans and make more resources available for women.
There are some immediate steps medical professionals can take, Strous added, including better counseling about pain relief and making sure that patients’ bodies are properly covered during delivery.
“Dignity is a factor that should be taken into account,” he said. “It’s an issue of ethics and professionalism, and now we can see that it does have physical and psychological ramifications.”
The study was published in the Israel Medical Association Journal.
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
Severe psychological and physical neglect produces measurable changes in children’s brains, according to a new study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Increasingly we are finding evidence that exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development,” said Margaret Sheridan, Ph.D., of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“The implications are wide-ranging, not just for institutionalized children but also for children exposed to abuse, abandonment, violence during war, extreme poverty and other adversities.”
Researchers led by Sheridan and Charles Nelson, Ph.D., analyzed brain MRI scans from Romanian children in the ongoing Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), which has transferred some children reared in orphanages into foster care homes.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, add to earlier studies by Nelson and his colleagues showing cognitive impairment in institutionalized children, but also showing improvements when children are placed in good foster homes.
The researchers compared three groups of 8- to 11-year-old children: 29 who had been reared in an institution; 25 who were selected at random to leave the institution for a high-quality foster care home; and 20 typically developing children who were never in an institution.
Children with histories of any institutional rearing had significantly smaller gray matter volumes in the cortex of the brain than never-institutionalized children, even if they had been placed in foster care, the researchers noted.
Children who remained in institutional care had significantly reduced white matter volume as compared with those never institutionalized. For children who had been placed in foster care, white matter volume was indistinguishable from that of children who were never institutionalized.
The researchers note that growth of the brain’s gray matter peaks during specific times in childhood, indicating periods when environment can strongly influence brain development.
White matter, which is necessary for forming connections in the brain, grows more slowly over time, possibly making it more malleable to foster care intervention, the researchers postulate.
“We found that white matter, which forms the ‘information superhighway’ of the brain, shows some evidence of ‘catch-up,’” said Sheridan. “These differences in brain structure appear to account for previously observed, but unexplained, differences in brain function.”
“Our cognitive studies suggest that there may be a sensitive period spanning the first two years of life within which the onset of foster care exerts a maximal effect on cognitive development,” Nelson added.
“The younger a child is when placed in foster care, the better the outcome.”
Source: Children’s Hospital Boston