Posts Tagged S Hospital

Migraines Painful — But Don’t Lead to Dementia


Migraines Painful -- But Don't Lead to DementiaResearch from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has shown that migraines are not associated with cognitive decline.

While migraines affect about 20 percent of the female population, there are many unanswered questions surrounding this complex disease, according to the researchers.

Previous studies linked migraines to an increased risk of stroke and structural brain lesions, but until this new study it had been unclear whether migraines had other negative consequences, such as dementia or cognitive decline.

“Previous studies on migraines and cognitive decline were small and unable to identify a link between the two,” said Pamela Rist, a research fellow in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH, and lead author on this study. “Our study was large enough to draw the conclusion that migraines, while painful, are not strongly linked to cognitive decline.”

The research team analyzed data from the Women’s Health Study, which included nearly 40,000 women, 45 years and older.

They analyzed data from 6,349 women who provided information about migraine status at baseline and then participated in cognitive testing during followup.

Participants were classified into four groups: No history of migraine, migraine with aura (transient neurology symptoms mostly of the visual field), migraine without aura, and past history of migraine. Cognitive testing was carried out in two-year intervals up to three times.

“Compared with women with no history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with or without aura did not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline,” she said.

“This is an important finding for both physicians and patients. Patients with migraine and their treating doctors should be reassured that migraine may not have long-term consequences on cognitive function.”

There is still a lot that is unknown about migraines, she acknowledged, noting that more research needs to be done to understand the consequences of migraine on the brain and to optimize treatment strategies.

The study was published online by the British Medical Journal.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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Neglect Hinders Brain Growth in Kids


Neglect Negatively Affects Brain GrowthSevere 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

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