Women/Prenatal/Infant6

Strong prevalence of insomnia symptoms among female veterans

Over 47% of female veterans reported insomnia symptoms

June 10, 2016

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Results demonstrate that more than 47 percent of female veterans reported symptoms of insomnia that resulted in functional impairment. Of this sample group, less than one percent had a diagnosis of a sleep disorder based on medical records.

 

"Results from the analysis provide a clinical decision tree identifying subgroups of women with high and low risk for insomnia symptoms," said lead author Kimberly Babson, PhD, Research Health Science Specialist at the National Center for PTSD -- Dissemination & Training Division, VA Palo Alto Health Care System. "These results can be used by primary care clinicians to identify women that fit within these subgroups for referral, assessment and intervention of insomnia symptoms in order to decrease risk for the psychological, physical, and psycho-social consequences associated with insomnia."

 

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Sunday, June 12, 2016 and Wednesday, June 15, 2016 in Denver at SLEEP 2016, the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).

 

Data for this study were drawn from a cross-sectional survey among a national, population-based stratified random sample of female veterans using Veterans Health Administration primary care facilities.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160610094745.htm

 

Women warriors at no greater risk for PTSD than men

August 20, 2015

Science Daily/Veterans Affairs Research Communications

While past research on the question has been mixed, a new study suggests that women in the military are at no greater risk than men for developing posttraumatic stress disorder, given similar experiences -- including combat.

 

The findings are in the September 2015 Journal of Psychiatric Research.

 

The study involved active-duty troops and veterans who are part of the Millennium Cohort Study. That effort has more than 200,000 participants in all.

 

The new PTSD study included more than 2,300 pairs of men and women who were matched based on an array of variables--including combat exposure--and followed about seven years, on average.

 

"This is the first study to prospectively investigate the development of PTSD in male and female service members who were matched on multiple important characteristics that could explain some of the differences in PTSD, including military sexual trauma," says one of the authors, Dr. Shira Maguen. "We found no gender differences in the development of PTSD. Consequently, our focus should be on the types of traumatic experiences that people have been exposed to, rather than any inherent gender differences in the development of PTSD."

 

Maguen is the mental health director of the OEF/OIF Integrated Care Clinic and a staff psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. She's also an associate professor at UCSF Medical School.

 

Lead author on the study was Dr. Isabel Jacobson of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego.

 

All the men and women in the study were free of PTSD at the outset of the research, and they all deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once. They completed a baseline survey in 2001 -- 2003, and follow-up surveys in 2004 -- 2006 and 2007 -- 2008.

 

While female troops in general are less likely to see combat, the researchers selected the study sample so there would be equal numbers of men and women with combat experiences. This was in addition to the pairs of men and women in the study being matched on factors such as age, race, education, marital status, service branch, and military occupation and pay grade.

 

The researchers also sought to match them on various health characteristics, including alcohol misuse, anxiety, and depression. Another factor the researchers took into account was stressful life events: divorce, a violent assault, or the death of a family member.

 

The matching technique helped ensure like-to-like comparisons. For example, while women service members are far more likely than men to experience sexual assault, the study matched men and women on this basis too, ensuring equal numbers of such events in each matched pair. The study also took into account sexual assaults that may have occurred over the follow-up period, during or after military service.

 

During the course of the study, 6.7 percent of women and 6.1 percent of men developed PTSD. The researchers say the difference was not statistically significant. Likewise, for those who did develop PTSD, there was no difference in severity between men and women.

 

Maguen points out that these rates of PTSD are lower than the commonly cited rates of 11 to 20 percent among returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans because the study excluded men and women who had PTSD at the outset.

 

"Generally, when studies look at PTSD rates among returning veterans, they look at everyone, regardless of whether they had PTSD in the past from pre-military traumas or prior deployments. Here we were only looking at new cases," she explains.

 

In contrast to the new study, past research on civilians has found that women are at higher risk than men for PTSD. That body of literature, though, is not based on comparisons of men and women with similar trauma exposures.

 

Maguen: "I do think military women are extremely resilient, but I think the differences in rates in the civilian literature actually have to do with a number of factors, including women having much higher rates of interpersonal traumas, which we know put people at high risk for PTSD."

 

Maguen and her colleagues point to several limitations of their study. For example, while they tried to match men and women on the basis of military occupation--among all the other factors--they acknowledge that members with the same occupational code could have performed different duties while overseas.

 

Also, the survey questions about combat exposure may not have distinguished adequately between those who saw dead or wounded troops or civilians, and those who actively took part in the fighting.

 

Despite these and other limitations, the researchers say the study is the first to be able to answer the question: "If a man and woman are equivalent on all other factors, including history of sexual assault, which is more likely to develop PTSD in a deployed environment with or without experiencing combat?"

 

The researchers say the findings support Department of Defense efforts to integrate women into combat roles. Gender alone is not an indicator of PTSD risk, they say.

 

"This study supports the positive direction being taken by the expansion of women's occupations into combat arms roles, and suggests continued support from the [Department of Defense] for women seeking occupational equality in the military setting," write the authors.

 

Dr. Dawne Vogt, acting deputy director of the Women's Health Sciences Division of VA's National Center for PTSD, says, "These findings are important because of their focus on new-onset PTSD." She points out that they are consistent with those from "several other recent studies that have shown that U.S. female service members are no more vulnerable than male service members to the negative mental health consequences of warfare exposure."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150820185912.htm

Breast cancer survivors benefit from practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction

December 29, 2011

Science Daily/University of Missouri-Columbia

Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer have higher survival rates than those diagnosed in previous decades, according to new research. However, survivors continue to face health challenges after their treatments end. Previous research reports as many as 50 percent of breast cancer survivors are depressed. Now, researchers say a meditation technique can help breast cancer survivors improve their emotional and physical well-being.

 

Yaowarat Matchim, a former nursing doctoral student; Jane Armer, professor of nursing; and Bob Stewart, professor emeritus of education and adjunct faculty in nursing, found that breast cancer survivors' health improved after they learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a type of mindfulness training that incorporates meditation, yoga and physical awareness.

 

"MBSR is another tool to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors," Armer said. "Patients often are given a variety of options to reduce stress, but they should choose what works for them according to their lifestyles and belief systems."

 

"Post diagnosis, breast cancer patients often feel like they have no control over their lives," Armer said. "Knowing that they can control something -- such as meditation -- and that it will improve their health, gives them hope that life will be normal again."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229203000.htm

Stress reduction and mindful eating curb weight gain among overweight women

December 7, 2011

Science Daily/University of California - San Francisco

Mastering simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped prevent weight gain even without dieting in overweight women.

 

In a study by UCSF researchers published online in the Journal of Obesity, mastering simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped prevent weight gain even without dieting.

 

Women in the study who experienced the greatest reduction in stress tended to have the most loss of deep belly fat. To a greater degree than fat that lies just under the skin, this deep abdominal fat is associated with an elevated risk for developing heart disease or diabetes.

"You're training the mind to notice, but to not automatically react based on habitual patterns -- to not reach for a candy bar in response to feeling anger, for example," said UCSF researcher Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. "If you can first recognize what you are feeling before you act, you have a greater chance of making a wiser decision."

 

Daubenmier led the current study with UCSF psychologist Elissa Epel, PhD. The study, published online in October, is part of ongoing UCSF research into how stress and the stress hormone cortisol are linked to eating behavior, fat and health.

 

Recognizing Sensations of Hunger, Fullness and Taste Satisfaction

The women who participated were not on calorie-counting diets. Instead, 24 of the 47 chronically stressed, overweight and obese women were randomly assigned to mindfulness training and practice, and the other 23 served as a control group. Although no diets were prescribed, all participants attended one session about the basics of healthy eating and exercise.

 

The training included nine weekly sessions, each lasting 2 1/2 hours, during which the women learned stress reduction techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations -- including hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction. At week six they attended an intensive seven-hour, silent meditation retreat.

 

They were asked to set aside 30 minutes daily for meditation exercises and to practice mindful eating during meals. Researchers used a scientifically tested survey to gauge psychological stress before and after the four-month study, and recorded the women's fat and cortisol levels.

 

Among women in the treatment group, changes in body awareness, chronic stress, cortisol secretion and abdominal fat were clearly linked. Those who had greater improvements in listening to their bodies' cues, or greater reductions in stress or cortisol, experienced the greatest reductions in abdominal fat.

 

Among the subset of obese women in the study, those who received the mindfulness training had significant reductions in cortisol after awakening and also maintained their total body weight, compared to women in the waitlist group, who had stable cortisol levels and continued to gain weight.

 

In a separate, ongoing study with lower-income, pregnant women who are overweight, Epel,Daubenmier and colleagues are teaching similar mindful-eating techniques. Pregnancy is a time when heavy women tend to gain an excessive amount of weight and later find it very hard to lose it. Furthermore, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can harm the baby's health.

 

"We are intervening at a critical point, when the health of the next generation is being shaped,"Epel said. "We hope to improve the health of both the mothers and their babies."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207152418.htm

Yoga boosts stress-busting hormone, reduces pain

July 27, 2011

Science Daily/York University

A new study finds that practicing yoga reduces the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia. The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. Participants' saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol following a program of 75 minutes of hatha yoga twice weekly over the course of eight weeks.

 

The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is characterized by chronic pain and fatigue; common symptoms include muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal discomfort, anxiety and depression.

 

Previous research has found that women with fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels, which contribute to pain, fatigue and stress sensitivity. According to the study, participants' saliva revealed elevated levels of total cortisol following a program of 75 minutes of hatha yoga twice weekly over the course of eight weeks.

 

"Ideally, our cortisol levels peak about 30-40 minutes after we get up in the morning and decline throughout the day until we're ready to go to sleep," says the study's lead author, Kathryn Curtis, a PhD student in York's Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. "The secretion of the hormone, cortisol, is dysregulated in women with fibromyalgia" she says.

 

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced and released by the adrenal gland and functions as a component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to stress.

 

"Hatha yoga promotes physical relaxation by decreasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which lowers heart rate and increases breath volume. We believe this in turn has a positive effect on the HPA axis," says Curtis.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727131421.htm

More knowledge not always helpful for women dealing with heart disease

May 4, 2011

Science Daily/Ohio State University

 

Women with congestive heart failure who repress their emotions, especially anger, are more likely than emotionally expressive women to experience symptoms of depression associated with knowledge about their disease, according to new research.

Coping styles of women in the study influenced how depressed or anxious they felt. The less they talked about or expressed their emotions, the more likely they were to have symptoms of depression and anxiety.

When Ohio State University researchers examined the influence of knowledge about their illness on the patients' mental well-being, they found that some women with heart failure felt worse emotionally when they had more information about the disease. For those women -- who tend to deny their emotions -- less information is better. For them, certain types of knowledge can actually lower their emotional quality of life, according to the research.

The findings of this pilot study suggest that clinicians should consider patients' individual coping styles when educating them about their illness, the researchers say. For example, women who cope by denying their emotions might become particularly distressed by information that provokes fear -- such as learning about the increased risk of hospitalization as a consequence of not taking medication or exercising enough.

"We're not saying knowledge is not a good thing," said Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State and co-author of the study. "For patients who are greater in denial, knowledge seemed to be a negative factor. Whereas for people who either had difficulty expressing emotion or putting a label on their emotion, knowledge is still beneficial."

Emery co-authored the study with Jamie Jackson, a former Ohio State graduate student who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. The study is published in a recent issue of the journal Heart & Lung.

The study involved 35 women diagnosed with at least stage C congestive heart failure as categorized by the American College of Cardiology, meaning they had structural heart damage, experienced symptoms that might include shortness of breath and swelling in the legs and abdomen, and were managing the disease with medication. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle is weakened, resulting in reduced blood flow throughout the body.

The researchers asked the participants to complete a number of questionnaires to measure their coping styles, illness knowledge, emotional quality of life and physical quality of life.

Women's coping styles were categorized in three ways: anger-in, or a tendency to withhold angry emotions; alexithymia, or difficulty identifying and describing feelings; and emotional expressivity, which could be either low or high.

Overall, the women reported elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to national data on these symptoms in healthy adults.

Depressive symptoms -- which can include loneliness, sadness, fear, sleep problems and an unshakable sense of the "blues" -- as well as anxiety symptoms were associated with repression of anger, difficulty describing feelings and low emotional expressivity. Those with a higher level of emotional expression were less likely to report depressive symptoms.

"The basic idea is very simple: that in general, it is better to express your emotions than to hold them in," said Emery, also an investigator in Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. "The correlations in this paper are exactly what one would expect."

And when the researchers then factored in how much the women knew about their illness, a clear link emerged between higher knowledge and more depressive symptoms in women who repressed their anger.

"These are women who would not want to deal with their negative emotions. I think the reason we're seeing this pattern is that if you're scared about your health condition, and you're confronted with more and more information, that makes it more real to you," Jackson said. "If you're somebody who doesn't want to acknowledge the emotion around the situation, it may result in reacting with greater negative emotion.

"In this particular study, depressive symptoms are where we see the effect."

On the other hand, women who had trouble describing their emotions felt more anxious if they had less knowledge about their illness than did women with similar coping traits who had greater knowledge.

The study showed no indication that coping style and illness knowledge influenced the patients' physical quality of life.

Emery noted that the education patients receive about an illness is critical to keeping them informed about the best ways to maintain their health. So ensuring that patients receive the information in a way that preserves their emotional health is likely to encourage greater compliance with doctors' orders, he said.

"The longer-term purpose of this line of research is to better predict which patient is going to benefit from which kind of intervention," he said. "Even with a high-denial patient, we would still embrace using knowledge. But we might identify non-aversive ways of presenting them with the knowledge."

The researchers suggest in the paper that clinicians may want to consider using mindfulness strategies for patients who tend to repress anger or have trouble describing their feelings. This technique helps people monitor their emotional response and observe their thoughts without judgment, said Jackson, who has been trained to provide mindfulness-based interventions in a clinical setting.

"Mindfulness encourages people to be comfortable with living in the moment with whatever emotional experience they're having," she said. "If we can help patients do that, they might be more receptive to information about their condition, and might have a better quality of life in general."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504111141.htm

PTSD, traumatic experiences may raise heart attack, stroke risk in women

June 29, 2015

Science Daily/American Heart Association

Women with severe PTSD or traumatic events may have a 60 percent higher lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease. The study is the first to examine trauma exposure, PTSD, and onset of cardiovascular disease exclusively in women. Researchers suggest physicians ask women about traumatic events and PTSD symptoms and then monitor them for cardiovascular issues.

 

In the first major study of PTSD and onset of cardiovascular disease (both heart attacks and strokes) exclusively in women, researchers examined about 50,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study II over 20 years.

 

PTSD occurs in some people after traumatic events (such as a natural disaster, unwanted sexual contact or physical assault). Patients may experience flashbacks of the trauma, insomnia, fatigue, trouble remembering or concentrating, and emotional numbing. Other symptoms include nightmares, irritability or being startled easily. PTSD is twice as common in women as in men.

 

In the study:

 

Women with four or more PTSD symptoms had 60 percent higher rates of cardiovascular disease compared to women who weren't exposed to traumatic events.

 

Women with no PTSD symptoms but who reported traumatic events had 45 percent higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Almost half of the association between elevated PTSD symptoms and cardiovascular disease was accounted for by unhealthy behaviors like smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and medical factors such as high blood pressure. "PTSD is generally considered a psychological problem, but the take-home message from our findings is that it also has a profound impact on physical health, especially cardiovascular risk," said Jennifer Sumner, Ph.D., lead author and an Epidemiology Merit Fellow at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "This is not exclusively a mental problem -- it's a potentially deadly problem of the body as well."

 

Most studies of cardiovascular disease risk in PTSD patients have been conducted in men who have served in the military or among disaster survivors.

 

The current study, conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia and Harvard-Chan, is unique in that it examined women from the community who were exposed to a variety of traumatic events.

 

Our results provide further evidence that PTSD increases the risk of chronic disease," said. Karestan C. Koenen, the study's senior author and Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. "The medical system needs to stop treating the mind and the body as if they are separate. Patients need access to integrated mental and physical healthcare."

 

Researchers used a questionnaire to evaluate different types of traumatic experiences and PTSD symptoms. They also considered cardiovascular disease risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and other contributors to cardiovascular health such as excessive alcohol use, and hormone replacement use.

 

PTSD emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in a sample of women under the age of 65. Physicians should be aware of this link and screen for cardiovascular disease risk, as well as monitor related health conditions and behaviors, including encouraging changes in lifestyle factors that may increase this risk, Sumner said.

 

More than half of the people in the United States who suffer from PTSD don't get treatment, especially minorities. Women need to get mental healthcare to treat symptoms as well as be monitored for signs of cardiovascular problems, she said.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150629175956.htm

 

Children of older mothers do better

The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the biological risks associated with being born to an older mother

April 12, 2016

Science Daily/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the biological risks associated with being born to an older mother.

 

Most previous research suggests that the older women are when they give birth, the greater the health risks are for their children. Childbearing at older ages is understood to increase the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes such as Down syndrome, as well as increase the risk that the children will develop Alzheimer's disease, hypertension, and diabetes later in life.

 

However, despite the risks associated with delaying childbearing, children may also benefit from mothers delaying childbearing to older ages. These are the findings from a new study conducted by Mikko Myrskylä, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR),) and his colleague Kieron Barclay at the London School of Economics, that has been published today in Population and Development Review.

 

Both public health and social conditions have been improving over time in many countries. Previous research on the relationship between maternal age and child outcomes has ignored the importance of these macro-level environmental changes over time. From the perspective of any individual parent, delaying childbearing means having a child with a later birth year. For example, a ten-year difference in maternal age is accompanied by a decade of changes to social and environmental conditions. Taking this perspective, this new MPIDR-study shows that when women delay childbearing to older ages their children are healthier, taller, and more highly educated. It shows that despite the risks associated with childbearing at older ages, which are attributable to aging of the reproductive system, these risks are either counterbalanced, or outweighed, by the positive changes to the environment in the period during which the mother delayed her childbearing.

 

For example, a woman born in 1950 who had a child at the age of 20 would have given birth in 1970. If that same woman had a child at 40, she would have given birth in 1990. "Those twenty years make a huge difference," explains Mikko Myrskylä. A child born in 1990, for example, had a much higher probability of going to a college or university than somebody born 20 years earlier.

 

Barclay and Myrskylä used data from over 1.5 million Swedish men and women born between 1960 and 1991 to examine the relationship between maternal age at the time of birth, and height, physical fitness, grades in high school, and educational attainment of the children. Physical fitness and height are good proxies for overall health, and educational attainment is a key determinant of occupational achievement and lifetime opportunities.

 

They found that when mothers delayed childbearing to older ages, even as old as 40 or older, they had children who were taller, had better grades in high school, and were more likely to go to university. For example, comparing two siblings born to the same mother decades apart, on average the child born when the mother was in her early 40s spends more than a year longer in the educational system than his or her sibling born when the mother was in her early 20s.

 

In their statistical analyses, Barclay and Myrskylä compared siblings who share the same biological mother and father. Siblings share 50% of their genes, and also grow up in the same household environment with the same parents. "By comparing siblings who grew up in the same family it was possible for us to pinpoint the importance of maternal age at the time of birth independent of the influence of other factors that might bias the results" said Kieron Barclay.

 

"The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the individual risk factors arising from being born to an older mother. We need to develop a different perspective on advanced maternal age. Expectant parents are typically well aware of the risks associated with late pregnancy, but they are less aware of the positive effects" said Myrskylä.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160412104810.htm

 

Mommy and me: Study shows how affectionate mothering can combat the effects of maternal depression

February 11, 2016

Science Daily/University of Utah

Certain parenting strategies can combat the negative impacts of maternal depression on an infant, suggests the first study of its kind. The work sought to investigate how a depressed mother's neuroendocrine response to stress can program the infant's hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a set of signals and relationships between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenals. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is responsible for creating cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

 

Poverty, lack of education and exposure to violence can undeniably impact a child's life trajectory significantly. But how can a mother's exposure and potentially depressive reactions to these stressors impact a child before his/her life even begins? A depressed mother's response to stress can pass through the placenta to negatively impact the fetus in ways that manifest after birth such as birth weight, brain development and increased susceptibility to various ailments.

 

The first study of its kind, "The contributions of maternal sensitivity and maternal depressive symptoms to epigenetic processes and neuroendocrine functioning," led by University of Utah assistant professor Elisabeth Conradt in the Department of Psychology, found that certain parenting strategies can combat the negative impacts of maternal depression on an infant. The findings were published in Child Development.

 

The mechanics of stress relief

 

Conradt's study sought to investigate how a depressed mother's neuroendocrine response to stress can program the infant's hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a set of signals and relationships between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenals. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is responsible for creating cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

 

Existing research with animal models suggest that this programming can occur after birth through epigenetic mechanisms, or changes in gene expression that do not change the genes themselves and can be passed between generations, through the quality of the mother's caregiving.

 

"We were curious about whether maternal behavior could "buffer" the child against the effects of maternal depression, and if this buffering could be observed at the level of the infant's epigenome," said Conradt.

 

Inspired by these animal studies, Conradt's team sought to determine whether, and how, the quality of the postnatal environment, specifically maternal sensitivity, is related to DNA methylation of genes involved in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning and infants' neuroendocrine functioning in humans.

 

DNA methylation is when a methyl group is added to an individual cytosine (one of the four main building blocks of DNA and RNA). When the methyl group is added to a gene promoter, the region of DNA that initiates gene expression, this leads to reduced gene activity.

 

Prior research indicates that being depressed while pregnant and exposure to childhood abuse is related to increased DNA methylation, and subsequently reduced gene activity, of key stress-related genes including the glucoroticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11β-HSD2).

 

Increased methylation of 11β-HSD2 leads to greater exposure of the fetus to maternal cortisol while increased methylation of NR3C1 results in fewer glucocorticoid receptors to which cortisol can bind and therefore greater levels of cortisol in the blood.

 

Conscious detachment: Ignoring babies to induce stress

 

To investigate whether DNA methylation of NR3C1 and 11β-HSD2 was related to maternal depressive symptoms and/or maternal sensitivity, Conradt and her team worked with 128 infants of women with self-reported symptoms of depression and obtained DNA (to test for methylation) from the infants through cheek swabs and cortisol levels from their saliva.

 

The infants each participated in three two-minute face-to-face play episodes with their mothers. The first play episode required normal play between mother and infant, the second episode required that the mothers be unresponsive to their infants and the third episode was a reunion episode where mothers were allowed to interact again.

 

Maternal sensitivity, recorded every 30 seconds, was assessed using four scales. First, maternal acceptance: Willingness and ability of the mother to follow her infant's lead. Second, demandingness: the degree to which the mother required her infant to behave a certain way. Third, responsiveness: Both the mother's awareness of her infant's signals and her response to them, regardless of the appropriateness of response. Fourth, appropriate touch: The mother's ability to touch her infant in a gentle and affectionate manner as opposed to a more intrusive manner.

 

The researchers took a pre-stress cortisol sample from each infant prior to entering the lab and two post-stress samples after the unresponsive play episode and after the reunion play episode. A cheek swab for DNA was taken after the second play episode.

 

When put to the test, sensitivity beat stress

 

The research team found that greater levels of maternal sensitivity were related to lower levels of cortisol. While there were no differences in DNA methylation among infants whose mothers scored high on sensitivity, infants whose mothers were both less sensitive and had high depressive symptoms had higher levels of methylation and more cortisol.

 

Furthermore, mothers with depressive symptoms who were more responsive and engaged in more appropriate touch during face-to-face play had infants with less DNA methylation compared to mothers with depressive symptoms who were also insensitive.

 

Having a sensitive caregiver, therefore, appears to buffer infants from the exposure of the mother's depressive symptoms. Infants aren't aware of whether their caregivers are depressed or not; they are only aware of how they're treated. This study is the first to demonstrate that certain forms of maternal caregiving can have such an effect.

 

"Many mothers struggle with depression but interact quite sensitively with their infants. In these instances, the mother may be "turning on" certain genes that we think allow infants to manage stress in adaptive ways," Conradt summarized.

 

Conradt and her team are currently replicating and extending this study with first-time pregnant women in Utah to better understand whether parenting can buffer the infant to the effects of prenatal exposure to stress and depression.

 

"We are excited about the possibility that this research may lead to specific ways one can effectively intervene with pregnant women at risk for postpartum depression."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160211185003.htm

Pregnancy and PTSD: Surprising findings could help moms-to-be at risk

Symptoms ease during pregnancy for many -- but some face high risk of issues that can affect them and their baby

February 10, 2016

Science Daily/University of Michigan Health System

For most women, expecting a baby brings intense joy -- and a fair amount of worry. But what about women who have lived through something awful enough to cause post-traumatic stress disorder? Contrary to what researchers expected, a new study shows that pregnancy may actually reduce their PTSD symptoms. Or at the least, it won't cause a flare-up.

 

But what about women who have lived through something awful enough to cause post-traumatic stress disorder?

 

Contrary to what researchers expected, a new study shows that pregnancy may actually reduce their PTSD symptoms. Or at the least, it won't cause a flare-up.

 

The news isn't all good, though.

 

For about one in four women with PTSD, the opposite is true, the researchers find. Not only do their symptoms get worse as their pregnancy goes on, but their ability to bond with their newborn suffers, and they face a high risk of post-partum depression.

 

The findings, made by a University of Michigan Medical School and School of Nursing team, highlight the need to screen pregnant women for possible undiagnosed PTSD.

 

The study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, is the first to track symptoms in women with PTSD through pregnancy and after giving birth.

 

Past PTSD doesn't mean problems in pregnancy

 

More than half of the 319 women in the study had high PTSD symptoms in the first part of pregnancy -- and all members of this group experienced a decrease as they got closer to giving birth. Women who had low levels of symptoms early on stayed about the same.

 

But for some, PTSD got worse as pregnancy went on. Those who suffered a new stress or trauma during pregnancy, or who had the most anxiety about giving birth, had the worst experience with PTSD symptoms during pregnancy, and post-birth problems.

 

"We hope our results give a message of hope that women who have a past diagnosis of PTSD aren't all headed for a worsening while they're pregnant," says Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., the U-M psychiatrist who led the study. "But we also have highlighted a vulnerable group that has a heightened risk of worsening symptom and postnatal issues that could have lasting effects for both mother and child."

 

Many women at risk of undiagnosed PTSD

 

Muzik notes that PTSD can be caused by many things -- such as combat, car crashes, being robbed or raped, living through a natural disaster or house fire, or being the victim of abuse in childhood or adulthood. With so many possible causes, many women may not have had a formal diagnosis of PTSD before their pregnancy, but may be suffering lasting effects from their trauma.

 

So, the researchers cast a wide net to find the women for their study. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the original study was called the STACY Project for Stress, Trauma, Anxiety, and the Childbearing Year, and headed up by Julia Seng, PHD, CNM, FAAN, a professor in the U-M School of Nursing.

 

Nurses at prenatal clinics run by three academic health centers, including ones that served mostly women who rely on public insurance, invited thousands of women to participate in the larger STACY study. The new data come from the subset of women who met the formal diagnostic criteria for PTSD either at the time of their pregnancy or in their past, based on detailed interviews using standard measures.

 

The team interviewed the women at two points during their pregnancy, and were able to interview about half the women again in the first six weeks of motherhood.

 

The researchers saw four groups emerge when they looked at the results of the surveys done during pregnancy: those who started high and got either moderately or substantially better, those who started low and stayed the same, and those who started relatively low but got worse.

 

Women with the strongest social support networks during pregnancy appeared to be protected from the risk of worsening PTSD. That means that partners, relatives and friends can make a real difference for a pregnant woman.

 

Muzik heads the Women and Infants Mental Health Program in the U-M Department of Psychiatry, which serves women experiencing mood and trauma-related issues during and after pregnancy.

 

She hopes that the new results will encourage providers who care for pregnant women to make PTSD screening part of their regular prenatal care. "With a few questions and screening measures, they can identify women who are experiencing risk factors, and heighten their awareness for support and treatment," she says. "Preventing the worsening of symptoms could reduce their chance of post-birth illness, and protect their future child from the lasting ill effects that a mother's mental illness can have."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160210110754.htm

Study links irregular sleep schedules to adverse metabolic health in women

Study is first to examine individual differences in habitual sleep timing in relation to indices of metabolic health

February 1, 2016

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Frequent shifts in sleep timing may be related to adverse metabolic health among non-shift working, midlife women, new research shows. Results show that greater variability in bedtime and greater bedtime delay were associated with higher insulin resistance, and greater bedtime advance was associated with higher body mass index (BMI).

 

Results show that greater variability in bedtime and greater bedtime delay were associated with higher insulin resistance, and greater bedtime advance was associated with higher body mass index (BMI). In prospective analyses, greater bedtime delay -- for example, staying up 2 hours later than usual -- also predicted an increase in insulin resistance 5 years later. The cross-sectional and prospective associations between these measures were significant only when both weekdays and weekends were included in the analysis, suggesting that large deviations in bedtime between work days and free days contributed to impaired glucose regulation.

 

"Irregular sleep schedules, including highly variable bedtimes and staying up much later than usual, are associated in midlife women with insulin resistance, which is an important indicator of metabolic health, including diabetes risk," said senior author Martica Hall, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. "We found that weekday-weekend differences in bedtime were especially important."

 

Study results are published in the February issue of the journal Sleep.

 

"This study emphasizes the important health benefits of keeping a regular sleep schedule," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Nathaniel Watson, who was not involved in the study. "In addition to sleeping 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis, adults should strive to maintain a consistent schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times on weekdays and weekends."

 

Led by Hall and lead author Briana J. Taylor, the research team analyzed data from the SWAN Sleep Study, an ancillary project to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The community-based sample comprised 370 Caucasian, African American and Chinese non-shift working women between the ages of 48 and 58 years. Daily diary-reported bedtimes were used to calculate four measures of sleep timing: mean bedtime, bedtime variability, bedtime delay and bedtime advance. BMI and insulin resistance were measured at baseline and again an average of 5 years later.

 

"The results are important because diabetes risk increases in midlife women," said Hall. "Our study suggests that irregular sleep schedules may be an important piece of this puzzle. The good news is that sleep timing is a modifiable behavior. Metabolic health was better in women who had more regular sleep schedules, including regular bedtimes across weekdays and weekends."

 

According to the authors, irregular bedtime schedules expose the body to varying levels of light, which is the most important timing cue for the body's circadian clock. By disrupting circadian timing, bedtime variability may impair glucose metabolism and energy homeostasis.

 

The authors suggest that future studies of sleep timing and metabolic health should examine potential mechanisms including melatonin as well as other hormones that are relevant to metabolic health and sensitive to circadian misalignment, including leptin, ghrelin and cortisol.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160201125510.htm

Study strengthens evidence linking autism to maternal obesity-diabetes

January 29, 2016

Science Daily/Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Children born to obese women with diabetes are more than four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than children of healthy weight mothers without diabetes, new research suggests.

 

The findings, to be published Jan. 29 in the journal Pediatrics, highlight what has become a leading theory about autism, that the risk likely develops before the child is even born.

 

"We have long known that obesity and diabetes aren't good for mothers' own health," says study leader Xiaobin Wang, MD, ScD, MPH, the Zanvyl Krieger Professor in Child Health at the Bloomberg School and director of the Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease. "Now we have further evidence that these conditions also impact the long-term neural development of their children."

 

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by severe deficits in socialization, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Since the 1960s, the prevalence rates have skyrocketed, with one in 68 U.S. children now affected by it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and diabetes have also risen to epidemic levels in women of reproductive age over the same time period.

 

For the study, the researchers analyzed 2,734 mother-child pairs, a subset of the Boston Birth Cohort recruited at the Boston Medical Center at birth between 1998 and 2014. They collected data on maternal pre-pregnancy weight and whether the mothers had diabetes before getting pregnant or whether they developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. They also followed up the children from birth through childhood via postnatal study visits and review of electronic medical records. They identified 102 children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder over the course of the study. Those children with mothers who were both diabetic and obese were more than four times as likely to develop autism compared to children born to normal weight mothers without diabetes, they found.

 

"Our research highlights that the risk for autism begins in utero," says co-author M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health and director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. "It's important for us to now try to figure out what is it about the combination of obesity and diabetes that is potentially contributing to sub-optimal fetal health."

 

Previous studies had suggested a link between maternal diabetes and autism, but this is believed to be the first to look at obesity and diabetes in tandem as potential risk factors.

 

Along with pre-conception diabetes, children of obese mothers who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy were also at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with autism.

 

The biology of why obesity and diabetes may contribute to autism risk isn't well understood. Obesity and diabetes in general cause stress on the human body, the researchers say. Previous research suggests maternal obesity may be associated with an inflammation in the developing fetal brain. Other studies suggest obese women have less folate, a B-vitamin vital for human development and health.

 

The researchers say that women of reproductive age who are thinking about having children need to not only think about their obesity and diabetes status for their own health, but because of the implications it could have on their children. Better diabetes and weight management could have lifelong impacts on mother and child, they say.

 

"In order to prevent autism, we may need to consider not only pregnancy, but also pre-pregnancy health," Fallin says.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160129091631.htm

 

Obesity, diabetes in mom increases risk of autism in child

January 29, 2016

Science Daily/Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Children born to obese women with diabetes are more than four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than children of healthy weight mothers without diabetes, new research suggests.

 

The findings, to be published Jan. 29 in the journal Pediatrics, highlight what has become a leading theory about autism, that the risk likely develops before the child is even born.

 

"We have long known that obesity and diabetes aren't good for mothers' own health," says study leader Xiaobin Wang, MD, ScD, MPH, the Zanvyl Krieger Professor in Child Health at the Bloomberg School and director of the Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease. "Now we have further evidence that these conditions also impact the long-term neural development of their children."

 

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by severe deficits in socialization, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Since the 1960s, the prevalence rates have skyrocketed, with one in 68 U.S. children now affected by it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and diabetes have also risen to epidemic levels in women of reproductive age over the same time period.

 

For the study, the researchers analyzed 2,734 mother-child pairs, a subset of the Boston Birth Cohort recruited at the Boston Medical Center at birth between 1998 and 2014. They collected data on maternal pre-pregnancy weight and whether the mothers had diabetes before getting pregnant or whether they developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. They also followed up the children from birth through childhood via postnatal study visits and review of electronic medical records. They identified 102 children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder over the course of the study. Those children with mothers who were both diabetic and obese were more than four times as likely to develop autism compared to children born to normal weight mothers without diabetes, they found.

 

"Our research highlights that the risk for autism begins in utero," says co-author M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health and director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. "It's important for us to now try to figure out what is it about the combination of obesity and diabetes that is potentially contributing to sub-optimal fetal health."

 

Previous studies had suggested a link between maternal diabetes and autism, but this is believed to be the first to look at obesity and diabetes in tandem as potential risk factors.

 

Along with pre-conception diabetes, children of obese mothers who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy were also at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with autism.

 

The biology of why obesity and diabetes may contribute to autism risk isn't well understood. Obesity and diabetes in general cause stress on the human body, the researchers say. Previous research suggests maternal obesity may be associated with an inflammation in the developing fetal brain. Other studies suggest obese women have less folate, a B-vitamin vital for human development and health.

 

The researchers say that women of reproductive age who are thinking about having children need to not only think about their obesity and diabetes status for their own health, but because of the implications it could have on their children. Better diabetes and weight management could have lifelong impacts on mother and child, they say.

 

"In order to prevent autism, we may need to consider not only pregnancy, but also pre-pregnancy health," Fallin says.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160129091631.htm

Screening for depression recommended for adults, including pregnant and postpartum women

January 26, 2016

Science Daily/The JAMA Network Journals

The US Preventive Services Task Force is recommending screening for depression in the general adult population, including pregnant and postpartum women, and that screening should be implemented with adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up.

 

This recommendation is a USPSTF grade B recommendation, meaning that there is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate, or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.

 

Depression is among the leading causes of disability in persons 15 years and older. It affects individuals, families, businesses, and society and is common in patients seeking care in the primary care setting, and also common in postpartum and pregnant women. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reviewed the evidence in the medical literature on the benefits and harms of screening for depression in adult populations, including older adults and pregnant and postpartum women; the accuracy of depression screening instruments; and the benefits and harms of depression treatment in these populations. The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications. This report is an update of a 2009 USPSTF recommendation statement. The USPSTF continues to recommend that adults 18 and older be screened for depression.

 

Detection, and Benefits of Early Detection, Intervention and Treatment

 

The USPSTF found convincing evidence that screening improves the accurate identification of adult patients with depression in primary care settings, including pregnant and postpartum women, and found adequate evidence that programs combining depression screening with adequate support systems in place improve clinical outcomes (i.e., reduction or remission of depression symptoms) in adults, including pregnant and postpartum women. The USPSTF found convincing evidence that treatment of adults and older adults with depression identified through screening in primary care settings with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both decreases clinical morbidity. The USPSTF also found adequate evidence that treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improves clinical outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women with depression.

 

Harms of Early Detection, Intervention and Treatment

 

The USPSTF found adequate evidence that the magnitude of harms of screening for depression in adults is small to none and that the magnitude of harms of treatment with CBT in postpartum and pregnant women is small to none. The USPSTF found that second-generation antidepressants (mostly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]) are associated with some harms, such as an increase in suicidal behaviors in adults age 18 to 29 years and an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults older than 70 years, with risk increasing with age; however, the magnitude of these risks is, on average, small. The USPSTF also found evidence of potential serious fetal harms from pharmacologic treatment of depression in pregnant women, but the likelihood of these serious harms is low. Therefore, the USPSTF concludes that the overall magnitude of harms is small to moderate.

 

Screening

 

The optimal timing and interval for screening for depression is not known. A pragmatic approach might include screening all adults who have not been screened previously and using clinical judgment in consideration of risk factors, comorbid conditions, and life events to determine if additional screening of high-risk patients is warranted. Positive screening results should lead to additional assessment that considers severity of depression and comorbid psychological problems, alternate diagnoses, and medical conditions.

 

Treatment and Interventions

 

Effective treatment of depression in adults generally includes antidepressants or specific psychotherapy approaches, alone or in combination. Given the potential harms to the fetus and newborn child from certain pharmacologic agents, clinicians are encouraged to consider evidence-based counseling interventions when managing depression in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

 

USPSTF Assessment

 

The USPSTF concludes with at least moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit to screening for depression in adults 18 years and older, including older adults, who receive care in clinical practices that have adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up after screening. The USPSTF also concludes with at least moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit to screening for depression in pregnant and postpartum women who receive care in clinical practices that have CBT or other evidence-based counseling available after screening.

 

Editorial: Recommendations for Screening for Depression in Adults

 

Michael E. Thase, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, comments on the USPSTF recommendations in an accompanying editorial.

 

"Until there are better methods to match patients with specific forms of treatment, the best hope to improve on a B grade for patients with depression may be to adapt care systems to respond more flexibly and decisively to key events that are associated with nonadherence or treatment failure. For example, if the clinicians working within a collaborative care model could rapidly incorporate the information that an initial prescription was not filled or was not refilled, it may be possible to diminish the chances that nonadherence will compromise treatment outcome."

 

"Likewise, given evidence that nonresponse is predicted by a lack of symptom improvement during the first 14 days of therapy, web-based monitoring of symptoms early in the course of therapy may enable physicians and other mental health professionals to intervene more rapidly and reduce the chances of treatment failure. The same approach to ongoing care could be used to facilitate a more timely transition through treatment algorithms and more expeditious referral to specialty care."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160126125228.htm

Why fish intake by pregnant women improves the growth of a child's brain

January 14, 2016

Science Daily/Tohoku University

An explanation for the correlation between eating fish during pregnancy, and the health of the baby's brain, has been uncovered by a group of researchers. Dietary lipid contains fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3, which are essential nutrients for many animals and humans. The research group found that a balanced intake of lipids by pregnant women is necessary for the normal brain formation of the unborn child.

 

Dietary lipid contains fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3, which are essential nutrients for many animals and humans. The research group, led by Professor Noriko Osumi, found that a balanced intake of lipids by pregnant women is necessary for the normal brain formation of the unborn child.

 

In an animal study, the researchers noticed that when female mice were fed an omega-6-rich/omega-3-poor diet, their offsprings were born with a smaller brain and showed abnormal emotional behavior in adulthood.

 

This is significant because people in many countries these days have similarly poor dietary patterns and tend to consume more seed oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and less fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

 

According to Professor Osumi, the brain abnormality found in the offsprings of mice used in the study, was caused by a premature aging of fetal neural stem cells that produce brain cells. The premature aging was promoted by an imbalance of oxides of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The offsprings also showed higher anxiety levels, even though they were raised on nutritionally optimized diets from an early lactation period.

 

A diet that contains a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is known to improve the development of brain functions; this is based on earlier researches that evaluated the effects of maternal intake of an omega-3-poor diet on brain function in children.

 

The new study took this premise further and focused on the effects of dietary lipids on the brain formation. The results reveal why omega-6 and omega-3 balance is important for future brain function, and reinforces earlier suggestions that more fish intake by women during pregnancy can advantageously affect the child's health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160114113410.htm

Put the cellphone away: Fragmented baby care can affect brain development

Maternal infant-rearing link to adolescent depression

Science Daily/January 5, 2016

University of California - Irvine

Mothers, put down your smartphones when caring for your babies! That's the message from researchers, who have found that fragmented and chaotic maternal care can disrupt proper brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life.

 

While the study was conducted with rodents, its findings imply that when mothers are nurturing their infants, numerous everyday interruptions -- even those as seemingly harmless as phone calls and text messages -- can have a long-lasting impact.

 

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram and her colleagues at UCI's Conte Center on Brain Programming in Adolescent Vulnerabilities show that consistent rhythms and patterns of maternal care seem to be crucially important for the developing brain, which needs predictable and continuous stimuli to ensure the growth of robust neuron networks. Study results appear today in Translational Psychiatry.

 

The UCI researchers discovered that erratic maternal care of infants can increase the likelihood of risky behaviors, drug seeking and depression in adolescence and adult life. Because cellphones have become so ubiquitous and users have become so accustomed to frequently checking and utilizing them, the findings of this study are highly relevant to today's mothers and babies ... and tomorrow's adolescents and adults.

 

"It is known that vulnerability to emotional disorders, such as depression, derives from interactions between our genes and the environment, especially during sensitive developmental periods," said Baram, the Danette "Dee Dee" Shepard Chair in Neurological Studies.

 

"Our work builds on many studies showing that maternal care is important for future emotional health. Importantly, it shows that it is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behavior but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial. We might wish to turn off the mobile phone when caring for baby and be predictable and consistent."

 

The UCI team -- which included Hal Stern, the Ted & Janice Smith Family Foundation Dean of Information & Computer Sciences -- studied the emotional outcomes of adolescent rats reared in either calm or chaotic environments and used mathematical approaches to analyze the mothers' nurturing behaviors.

 

Despite the fact that quantity and typical qualities of maternal care were indistinguishable in the two environments, the patterns and rhythms of care differed drastically, which strongly influenced how the rodent pups developed. Specifically, in one environment, the mothers displayed "chopped up" and unpredictable behaviors.

 

During adolescence, their offspring exhibited little interest in sweet foods or peer play, two independent measures of the ability to experience pleasure. Known as anhedonia, the inability to feel happy is often a harbinger of later depression. In humans, it may also drive adolescents to seek pleasure from more extreme stimulation, such as risky driving, alcohol or drugs.

 

Why might disjointed maternal care generate this problem with the pleasure system? Baram said that the brain's dopamine-receptor pleasure circuits are not mature in newborns and infants and that these circuits are stimulated by predictable sequences of events, which seem to be critical for their maturation. If infants are not sufficiently exposed to such reliable patterns, their pleasure systems do not mature properly, provoking anhedonia.

 

With her UCI team, Baram is currently studying human mothers and their infants. Video analysis of care, sophisticated imaging technology to measure brain development, and psychological and cognitive testing are being employed to more fully understand this issue. The goal is to see whether what was discovered in rodents applies to people. If so, then strategies to limit chopped-up and unpredictable patterns of maternal care might prove helpful in preventing emotional problems in teenagers.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105132724.htm

Wage gap could explain why women are more likely to be anxious, depressed than men

Basic trends in self-esteem appear universal but can be shaped by culture

January 4, 2016

Science Daily/American Psychological Association

People worldwide tend to gain self-esteem as they grow older, and men generally have higher levels of self-esteem than women, but this self-esteem gender gap is more pronounced in Western industrialized countries, according to research.

 

"During the past two decades, a large number of studies on age and gender differences in self-esteem have found that men have higher self-esteem than women and that both men and women show age-graded increases in self-esteem. These robust findings would appear to provide a solid empirical foundation upon which researchers can develop their understanding of the mechanisms driving age and gender differences in self-esteem," said lead author Wiebke Bleidorn, PhD, of the University of California, Davis. "However, one issue potentially undermines this conclusion: Virtually all previous studies have only examined samples from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic countries. Our research aims to provide the first systematic cross-cultural examination of gender and age effects on self-esteem."

 

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

 

Bleidorn and her colleagues analyzed survey data from over 985,000 men and women ages 16-45 from 48 countries. The data were collected from July 1999 to December 2009 as part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project. The researchers compared self-reported self-esteem, gender and age across the 48 nations in their study.

 

In general, the researchers found that self-esteem tended to increase with age, from adolescence to adulthood, and that men at every age tended to have higher levels of self-esteem than women worldwide. When they broke the results down by country, they found some interesting results.

 

"Specifically, individualistic, prosperous, egalitarian, developed nations with higher gender equality had larger gender gaps in self-esteem than collectivist, poorer, developing nations with greater gender inequality," said Bleidorn. "This is likely the result of specific cultural influences that guide self-esteem development in men and women."

 

For instance, the gender differences were small in many Asian countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia and India, but were relatively larger in countries like the United Kingdom or the Netherlands.

 

What surprised the researchers most was, despite the cultural differences, the general trend across all the countries suggests that gender and age differences in self-esteem are not a Western idiosyncrasy, but can be observed in different cultures across the world.

 

"This remarkable degree of similarity implies that gender and age differences in self-esteem are partly driven by universal mechanisms; these can either be universal biological mechanisms such as hormonal influences or universal cultural mechanisms such as universal gender roles. However, universal influences do not tell the whole story," said Bleidorn. "The differences in magnitude and shape of gender and age differences in various countries provide strong evidence for culture-specific influences on the development of self-esteem in men and women."

 

These findings are important because up until now the bulk of research on self-esteem has been confined to industrialized, Western cultures where the gender gap is significantly greater, said Bleidorn. "This new research refines our understanding of how cultural forces may shape self-esteem, which, when worked out more fully, can help inform self-esteem theory and design interventions to promote or protect self-esteem."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160104130822.htm

Self-esteem gender gap more pronounced in western nations

Basic trends in self-esteem appear universal but can be shaped by culture

January 4, 2016

Science Daily/American Psychological Association

People worldwide tend to gain self-esteem as they grow older, and men generally have higher levels of self-esteem than women, but this self-esteem gender gap is more pronounced in Western industrialized countries, according to research.

 

"During the past two decades, a large number of studies on age and gender differences in self-esteem have found that men have higher self-esteem than women and that both men and women show age-graded increases in self-esteem. These robust findings would appear to provide a solid empirical foundation upon which researchers can develop their understanding of the mechanisms driving age and gender differences in self-esteem," said lead author Wiebke Bleidorn, PhD, of the University of California, Davis. "However, one issue potentially undermines this conclusion: Virtually all previous studies have only examined samples from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic countries. Our research aims to provide the first systematic cross-cultural examination of gender and age effects on self-esteem."

 

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

 

Bleidorn and her colleagues analyzed survey data from over 985,000 men and women ages 16-45 from 48 countries. The data were collected from July 1999 to December 2009 as part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project. The researchers compared self-reported self-esteem, gender and age across the 48 nations in their study.

 

In general, the researchers found that self-esteem tended to increase with age, from adolescence to adulthood, and that men at every age tended to have higher levels of self-esteem than women worldwide. When they broke the results down by country, they found some interesting results.

 

"Specifically, individualistic, prosperous, egalitarian, developed nations with higher gender equality had larger gender gaps in self-esteem than collectivist, poorer, developing nations with greater gender inequality," said Bleidorn. "This is likely the result of specific cultural influences that guide self-esteem development in men and women."

 

For instance, the gender differences were small in many Asian countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia and India, but were relatively larger in countries like the United Kingdom or the Netherlands.

 

What surprised the researchers most was, despite the cultural differences, the general trend across all the countries suggests that gender and age differences in self-esteem are not a Western idiosyncrasy, but can be observed in different cultures across the world.

 

"This remarkable degree of similarity implies that gender and age differences in self-esteem are partly driven by universal mechanisms; these can either be universal biological mechanisms such as hormonal influences or universal cultural mechanisms such as universal gender roles. However, universal influences do not tell the whole story," said Bleidorn. "The differences in magnitude and shape of gender and age differences in various countries provide strong evidence for culture-specific influences on the development of self-esteem in men and women."

 

These findings are important because up until now the bulk of research on self-esteem has been confined to industrialized, Western cultures where the gender gap is significantly greater, said Bleidorn. "This new research refines our understanding of how cultural forces may shape self-esteem, which, when worked out more fully, can help inform self-esteem theory and design interventions to promote or protect self-esteem."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160104130822.htm

Men have better sense of direction than women

Different approaches to the same navigational tasks underscore sex-linked differences

December 7, 2015

Science Daily/Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Researchers studied women and men using fMRI during wayfinding tasks in a recently learned virtual environment. Men consistently performed better than women. When women were given a drop of testosterone under their tongue, however, their ability to orient themselves along the four cardinal directions improved.

 

It's been well established that men perform better than women when it comes to specific spatial tasks. But how much of that is linked to sex hormones versus cultural conditioning and other factors?

 

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) decided to explore this idea by administering testosterone to women and testing how they performed in wayfinding tasks in a virtual environment.

 

Using fMRI, the researchers saw that men in the study took several shortcuts, oriented themselves more using cardinal directions and used a different part of the brain than the women in the study.

 

But when women got a drop of testosterone under their tongue, several of them were able to orient themselves better in the four cardinal directions.

 

"Men's sense of direction was more effective. They quite simply got to their destination faster," says Carl Pintzka, a medical doctor and PhD candidate at NTNU's Department of Neuroscience.

 

The directional sense findings are part of his doctoral thesis on how the brain functions differently in men and women.

 

Puzzle solving in a 3D maze

 

Pintzka used an MRI scanner to see whether there are any differences in brain activity when men and women orient themselves. Using 3D goggles and a joystick, the participants had to orient themselves in a very large virtual maze while functional images of their brains were continuously recorded.

 

Eighteen men and 18 women first took an hour to learn the layout of the maze before the scanning session. In the MRI scanner, they were given 30 seconds for each of the 45 navigation tasks. One of the tasks, for example, was to "find the yellow car" from different starting points.

 

Women often use a route

 

The men solved 50 per cent more of the tasks than the women.

 

According to Pintzka, women and men have different navigational strategies. Men use cardinal directions during navigation to a greater degree.

 

"If they're going to the Student Society building in Trondheim, for example, men usually go in the general direction where it's located. Women usually orient themselves along a route to get there, for example, 'go past the hairdresser and then up the street and turn right after the store'," he says.

 

The study shows that using the cardinal directions is more efficient because it is a more flexible strategy. The destination can be reached faster because the strategy depends less on where you start.

 

Women have better local memory

 

fMRI images of the brain showed that both men and women use large areas of the brain when they navigate, but some areas were different. The men used the hippocampus more, whereas women used their frontal areas to a greater extent.

 

"That's in sync with the fact that the hippocampus is necessary to make use of cardinal directions," says Pintzka.

 

He explains the findings in evolutionary terms.

 

"In ancient times, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Therefore, our brains Hi Bryce,

 

I listened to your Cannabis Connection interview from last year on Soundcloud on Sunday. It was great to learn about your background, activism and your business philosophy all of which is very impressive. Your political involvement resonates with my own years of political activism. I also find your Hashman and Cookie Company websites very well done! 

 

If I may, I would like to share a little of my background and why I asked Mikey if he had friends in the cannabis distribution business. I started associating with Mikey in 2014, when we first began running Consciousness Hacking.

 

This is my website: www.avstim.com I have been involved in the alternative health field since 1990. I was also running a modest, 12-light grow, supplying our local North Bay dispensaries from about 2009 to 2014. In addition, I have been a conservation community activist here in Marin County for the past 25 years, where my political advocacy comes into play. From that perspective, I deeply appreciate the work you are doing.

 

Applying technology as a tool for personal health and wellness, I have always tried to help people resolve the underlying causes for their health issues, rather than treating the symptoms. The demographics of the person who turns to CBD and THC for sleep, pain, anxiety and stress is nearly identical to our market.

 women are better at finding objects locally than men. In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house," Pintzka says.

 

A little testosterone under the tongue

 

Step two was to give some women testosterone just before they were going to solve the maze puzzles.

 

This was a different group of women than the group that was compared to men. In this step, 42 women were divided into two groups. Twenty-one of them received a drop of placebo, and 21 got a drop of testosterone under the tongue. The study was double-blinded so that neither Pintzka nor the women knew who got what.

 

"We hoped that they would be able to solve more tasks, but they didn't. But they had improved knowledge of the layout of the maze. And . And they used the hippocampus to a greater extent, which tends to be used more by men for navigating," says Pintzka.

 

Losing one's sense of direction is one of the first symptoms in Alzheimer's disease.

 

"Almost all brain-related diseases are different in men and women, either in the number of affected individuals or in severity. Therefore, something is likely protecting or harming people of one sex. Since we know that twice as many women as men are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, there might be something related to sex hormones that is harmful," says Pintzka.

 

He hopes that by understanding how men and women use different brain areas and strategies to navigate, researchers will be able to enhance the understanding of the disease's development, and develop coping strategies for those already affected.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151207081824.htm

Moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy do not harm baby's IQ

Moderate amounts do not cause behavioral problems, obesity

November 19, 2015

Science Daily/Nationwide Children's Hospital

Women drinking and eating moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy should be reassured that they are not harming their child's intelligence, according to a study from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The research, one of the first studies to focus on how in utero caffeine exposure affects a child's future intelligence (IQ) and behavior later in childhood, found caffeine did not lead to a reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems.

"We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age," said Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's and faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

 

Researchers analyzed a marker of caffeine in the blood of 2,197 expectant mothers who took part in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, conducted at multiple sites in the United States in 1959-74. According to the researchers, this was an era when coffee consumption during pregnancy was more prevalent than today, as there was little concern regarding the safety of caffeine. Therefore, the study was able to investigate a broader range of caffeine intake than if a similar study was done today.

 

Researchers looked at the association between a chemical called paraxanthine, caffeine's primary metabolite, at two points in pregnancy. They compared those levels to the child's IQ and behavior at 4 and 7 years of age.

 

Researchers found there were no consistent patterns between maternal caffeine ingestion and the development and behavior of those children at those points in their lives.

 

This study follows previous research regarding caffeine consumption during pregnancy conducted at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's. Dr. Klebanoff and Sarah Keim, PhD, co-author and principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's, published a study in Epidemiology in March 2015 involving the same group of women from The Collaborative Perinatal Project and found that increased ingestion of caffeine during pregnancy did not increase the risk of childhood obesity.

 

Of the children in the study, about 11 percent were considered obese at 4 years and about 7 percent at 7 years. However, the researchers found no associations between their mother's caffeine intake and these occurrences of obesity.

 

"Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day," said Dr. Keim, who is also a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119211435.htm

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