Adolescence/ Teens 1

Loss of sleep during adolescence may be a diabetes danger

February 13, 2016
Science Daily/Penn State
How much slow-wave sleep a teenage boy gets may predict whether he is at risk for insulin resistance and other health issues, according to a neuroscience researcher.

Boys who experience a greater decline in slow-wave sleep as adolescents have a significantly higher chance of developing insulin resistance than those who more closely maintained their slow-wave sleep as they got older. These boys are then also at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, increased visceral fat and impaired attention.

Slow-wave sleep (SWS) is an important stage of sleep that is involved in memory consolidation and recovery after sleep deprivation, and is also associated with reduced cortisol and inflammation. While prior research has shown that SWS declines as a person gets older, there is little research looking at possible physical or neurocognitive consequences of the loss of SWS, Gaines explained today (Feb. 13) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"On a night following sleep deprivation, we'll have significantly more slow-wave sleep to compensate for the loss," said Gaines, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience, College of Medicine. "We also know that we lose slow-wave sleep most rapidly during early adolescence. Given the restorative role of slow-wave sleep, we weren't surprised to find that metabolic and cognitive processes were affected during this developmental period."

Gaines analyzed results collected through the Penn State Child Cohort in order to study long-term effects of SWS loss from childhood to adolescence. The cohort included 700 children from the general central Pennsylvania population, ages 5 to 12. Eight years later, 421 participants were followed up during adolescence -- 53.9 percent were male.

Participants stayed overnight both at the beginning of the study and at the follow-up and had their sleep monitored for nine hours. At the follow-up appointment, participants' body fat and insulin resistance were measured, and they also underwent neurocognitive testing.

Gaines found that in boys, a greater loss of SWS between childhood and adolescence was significantly associated with insulin resistance, and this loss was marginally associated with increased belly fat and impaired attention. However, Gaines did not find any associations between SWS and insulin resistance, physical health or brain function in girls.

Importantly, the participants' sleep duration did not decline significantly with age, suggesting that the effects observed were due to a loss of this "deeper" stage of sleep, according to the researcher.

"More longitudinal studies are needed to replicate these findings, especially in other age groups," said Gaines. "Studies looking at the effects of experimentally enhanced slow-wave sleep are also necessary. In the meantime, we can use these findings as a springboard for future work on the sleep-health connection. The best thing we can do for ourselves today is keep a consistent sleep schedule, so as not to deprive ourselves of any more slow-wave sleep than we're already naturally losing with age."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Link between ADHD, vision impairment in children

February 25, 2016
Science Daily/University of Alabama at Birmingham
A new study sheds light on a link between noncorrectable vision problems and ADHD in children. Results from a large survey of 75,000 children suggest an increased risk of ADHD among children with vision problems that are not correctable with glasses or contacts, such as color blindness or lazy eye, relative to other children. This finding suggests that children with vision impairment should be monitored for signs and symptoms of ADHD so that this dual impairment of vision and attention can best be addressed.

Results from a large survey of 75,000 children suggest an increased risk of ADHD among children with vision problems that are not correctable with glasses or contacts, such as color blindness or lazy eye, relative to other children. This finding suggests that children with vision impairment should be monitored for signs and symptoms of ADHD so that this dual impairment of vision and attention can best be addressed.

The study included children ages 4 to 17 with data from the National Survey of Children's Health. More than 15 percent of children with vision impairment also had an ADHD diagnosis, compared with 8.3 percent of children with normal vision.

Director of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation Dawn DeCarlo, O.D., was the lead investigator on the study. She says that, just because vision problems that are not correctable with glasses or contacts are associated with ADHD, that does not mean that one causes the other or vice versa.

"If a child seems to have attention problems in addition to vision problems, his or her parents may wish to discuss their child's vision with their pediatrician and consider an eye examination as well as discussing the attention difficulties," DeCarlo said.

The national study was produced in response to patients of DeCarlo exhibiting vision impairment and ADHD. In that study, researchers asked if the child had a vision problem not correctable with glasses or contacts. These types of vision problems could range from color vision deficiency to a lazy eye (amblyopia) but would also include children with vision impairment. A previous paper reported an increased prevalence of ADHD among the children in her clinic.

"Because we do not know if the relationship is causal, we have no recommendations for prevention," DeCarlo said. "I think it is more important that parents realize that children with vision problems may not realize they do not see as well as everyone else."

DeCarlo says a follow-up study using pediatricians and eye care professionals to confirm the children's conditions would add to the findings.

So if children have vision problems, should parents be worried about their developing ADHD?

"I wouldn't worry about their developing ADHD," DeCarlo said. "I'd get them an eye exam and see if it fixes the problem."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Snoring in children can affect their health

February 29, 2016
Science Daily/University of Gothenburg
Children commonly snore from time to time and that is often harmless. But children with frequent snoring and breathing problems during sleep have an increased risk of having trouble concentrating and learning difficulties. A newly published study shows that many parents of children that snore are not aware of the possible risks associated with frequent snoring in children.

Periodic snoring in children is not unusual. But, when snoring becomes persistent and the child experiences sleep apnea, sleep quality is affected. This, in turn, can lead to problems with daytime tiredness, concentration and learning difficulties, bedwetting and delayed growth.

5 percent snore

A Swedish population study, that studied the occurrence of snoring and sleep apnea in 1300 children ranging in age from 0-11 years, found that approximately 5 percent of the examined children snored several times a week. Despite pronounced snoring, only about one third of the snoring children had sought medical help for their problem.

Reduced quality of life

"Children with persistent snoring often have a reduced quality of life. In particular, this applies to children who have sleep apnea," says Gunnhildur Gudnadottir, Researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy. "The study shows that awareness is low regarding the negative effects of breathing disturbances during sleep on children's health and that most parents are not aware that this is something that should be investigated. An obvious result of the study is that we must consider how parents are given information about the condition and where they can seek help" says Gunnhildur Gudnadottir.

Can often be cured

The most common reason for snoring in children are enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In these cases, snoring can often be cured or reduced with surgery. The Gothenburg researchers' advice is that children with severe recurrent snoring and sleep apnea should turn to a healthcare center for medical evaluation.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Homeschooled kids sleep more than others

Experts urge later start times at other schools after charting homeschool sleep benefits

March 2, 2016
Science Daily/National Jewish Health
Teens who are homeschooled benefit from healthier sleep habits than those who go to most private and public schools, a new study has concluded. The findings provide additional evidence of teens' altered biological clocks and support an argument for starting traditional high school later in the morning.

n the first study of its kind, researchers have determined that teens who are homeschooled benefit from healthier sleep habits than those who go to most private and public schools. The findings provide additional evidence of teens' altered biological clocks and support an argument for starting traditional high school later in the morning.

"We have a school system that is set up so that the youngest children, who are awake very early in the morning, start school latest, and our adolescents, who need sleep the most, are being asked to wake up and go to school at a time when their brains should physiologically be asleep," said Lisa Meltzer, PhD, a sleep psychologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, and lead author of the study.

"Adolescents need nine hours of sleep a night and if they're only getting seven hours, on average, by the end of the week they are a full ten hours of sleep behind schedule," said Meltzer, "and that impacts every aspect of functioning."

Meltzer and her colleagues charted the sleep patterns of 407 students. They found that adolescent homeschooled students slept an average of 90 minutes more per night than public and private school students, who were in class an average of 18 minutes before homeschooled children even awoke.

"That cumulative sleep deprivation adds up," said Meltzer. "The ability to learn, concentrate and pay attention is all diminished when you haven't had enough sleep. But more than that, a lack of sleep can also impact a teenager's mood and their ability to drive early in the morning," she said.

If your teenager needs more sleep, why not just send them to bed earlier? "It's not that simple," said Meltzer. Melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our sleep, shifts by about two hours during puberty. So, even if they wanted to get to sleep earlier, teenagers are battling biological changes in their bodies that are nearly impossible to overcome.

"It's not that they don't want to go to bed, but physiologically they simply can't fall asleep earlier. So, the logical solution, is to allow them to sleep later," said Meltzer.

Fifteen year old Caelin Jones couldn't agree more. Jones, who lives in Denver, says he sets his alarm every morning for six o'clock to get to school on time, though he never quite felt fully awake until several hours later.

"Most days I would get to school and pretty much be the same as all the other kids. We were all just bleary-eyed and wondering why we had to be here at this time," he said.

Jones' sleep problems became so consuming that he sought sleep counseling through Dr. Meltzer at National Jewish Health. "It's made a big difference for me," said Jones, who has learned habits to help him wind down at night.

The study concluded that more than half (55%) of teens who were homeschooled got the optimal amount of sleep per week, compared to just 24.5% of those who attend public and private schools. Conversely, 44.5% of public and private school teens got insufficient sleep during the school week, compared to only 16.3% of homeschooled teens."

The differences are stark," said Meltzer. "Across the country, public and private schools that have changed their high school start times see considerable benefits. Students are tardy less often and graduation rates are actually higher," she said.

While you may not be able to change teenagers' biology, you can help them develop healthier sleeping habits. Meltzer offers this advice:

Get all electronics out of the bedroom. TVs, computers, video games and phones are major distractions for teens and often delay sleep.
Don't look at any screens 30-60 minutes before bed time. Though turning off media is as simple as flipping a switch, the human brain does not work the same way. Being stimulated by media just before bed can make the brain too active to sleep.
Set up family charging stations, where mom, dad and the kids plug in their phones at night so they are out of reach.
Most importantly, set a consistent routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This one habit can help regulate your body's internal clock and improve the quality of sleep you get.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Dutch students' grades lower due to lack of sleep

March 22, 2016
Science Daily/Leiden, Universiteit
Students who have a chronic lack of sleep have lower grades and find it harder to concentrate. Around a third of students do not feel well rested enough to be able to study properly, a Dutch study shows.


The results come from a national survey by the Netherlands Association for Sleep Wake Research, Leiden University and the Netherlands Brain Foundation among almost 1,400 healthy students at Dutch universities. The report has been published to coincide with the National Sleep Week from 21 to 26 March.

More than a third have too little sleep

Young adults need 8 to 9 hours sleep in order to able to function properly (according to research by the National Sleep Foundation). More than a third of the students surveyed do not feel properly rested during their study activities. Students who suffer a chronic lack of sleep score significantly lower on their final exam in the current academic year (an average of 0.8 lower) and have a significantly lower average grade than students who have enough sleep (an average of 0.5 lower). They also find it harder to concentrate while studying.

Relationship between sleep and concentration now clear among students

The lead researcher, Dr Kristiaan van der Heijden from Leiden University, comments: 'We have known for a long time that lack of sleep can cause concentration problems and poorer study performance, but we can now show this for the first time among students in Dutch higher education.'

Chronic lack of sleep

The average Dutch student goes to bed at 23.35 hrs. and takes 26 minutes to fall asleep. They get up at around 8.17 hrs., which means they have slept 8 hours and 16 minutes. 65% of the students say they do not have enough sleep: they would like to sleep for an hour and a half longer. 28% of the respondents receive just the right amount of sleep and 7% would be happy to sleep less.

Evening or morning types

Of the respondents, 32% say they are evening types and 7% that they are morning types (61% say they are neither). The evening types go to bed later (00.15 hrs.) than the average (23.20 hrs.) and morning types (22.35 hrs.). The evening types sleep significantly shorter (8 hours and 6 minutes) than the average (8 hours and 20 minutes) and the morning types (8 hours and 28 minutes).

More than a third do not feel well-rested enough to study properly

The evening types more often find it difficult to keep their eyes open if they are sitting for some time in a lecture or working group (18% versus 12% and 8%) and are less often interested in studying because they feel too sleepy (36% versus 22% and 13%). The lack of sleep has clear consequences for their study results: the final exam grade (6.9) is considerably lower than the average types (7.2) and morning types (7.3).

Regular bedtime is crucial

Van der Heijden: 'As the evening types sleep for less time every day than the average and morning types, they build up a sleep deficit over time. Evening types are more likely to have to get up in the morning while their biological clock hasn't yet given them a signal to wake up. This can have a negative effect on the rest of the day.' Although people often have a genetic propensity to be evening types, they can reduce the problem by paying attention to good sleeping habits. 'Regular bedtimes are extra important for these people and sleeping through to the afternoon in order to make up for lost sleep is disastrous for their sleep rhythm.'


Students almost all agree that drinking coffee or other caffeine-containing drinks after dinner has a negative influence on sleep. But there some negative habits and behaviours that many students believe are positive, and vice versa. As an example, 52% of students believe that intensive sport just before going to bed can have a positive influence on their sleep, while this is in fact not the case. Drinking alcohol is another area where there are misconceptions: 30% believe that it affects sleep positively, while research has shown that the opposite is the case.

Too little known about healthy sleep behaviour

It appears from the research that students who have a good understanding of healthy sleep habits obtain higher grades. Dr Laura Smit-Rigter from the Brain Foundation comments: 'Given the importance of good sleep, people really do need to have the right knowledge and then apply it. The Brain Foundation has a special web page where people can learn what they can do to sleep better.'

Science Daily/SOURCE :

University students who do sports achieve better academic results

March 31, 2016
Science Daily/Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica
University students who take part in sports activities during their academic careers earn grade point averages that are approximately 9 percent higher than those students who finish their degrees without having participated in such activities, according to a Spanish study.

The main objective of this research project was to analyze the influence of regular, official physical-sports activity on the academic results of UC3M university students. "Although there are previous studies that have indicated that taking part in sports activities has negative effects on academic performance, the most commonly accepted belief is that the impact of sports is far from being negative and is, in fact, remarkably positive," comments one of the authors of the study, María José Sánchez Bueno, Associate Professor of Organización de Empresas (Business Organization) at UC3M.

The researchers selected a sample of 3,671 students who started undergraduate degree programs beginning in 2008 and finished their degrees before 2015. "Our final results show that participation in regular, official physical-sports activity positively affects the academic performance of UC3M students," the study concludes.

Specifically, those students "who participated in sports activities earned grade point averages that were 9.3% higher than those of students who completed their undergraduate degrees but did not take part in any sports activities," points out another of the study's authors, Fernando Muñoz Bullón, Associate Professor de Organización de Empresas (Business Organization) at UC3M.

"This study shows the value of sports as an official activity at UC3M and in the university environment in general," highlights the third author of the study, Antonio Vos Saz, who had been connected to the former Espacio Estudiantes service at UC3M and who is currently the financial director of the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid (Villa de Madrid Country Club).

The data that were used for this study come from UC3M databases on academic performance and students' sports activities. Different variables were also taken into consideration when the relationship between sports activities and academic performance was being evaluated; these include: gender, time taken to complete the degree, age when beginning the degree, the area of the degree (Engineering, Social Sciences and Law, or Humanities), whether or not the student received a grant or came from a large family (with 3 or more children).

The researchers noted certain differences in the relationship between academic performance and the type of sports activity practiced, a subject they propose examining in subsequent studies. "Perhaps the impact on academic performance is not the same if the sport practiced is individual rather than a team sport," notes Fernando Muñoz Bullón, who suggests the challenge of carrying out a similar study with data from other universities in order to analyze whether the results obtained at UC3M can be extrapolated to the Spanish university environment in general.

The authors conclude that sports activities, beyond the indisputable health benefits for those who take part in them, also enable the practitioners to achieve the results that educational institutions are seeking.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

For young adults, sleep problems predict later pain problems

March 31, 2016
Science Daily/Wolters Kluwer Health
For at least some groups of 'emerging adults,' sleep problems are a predictor of chronic pain and worsening pain severity over time, suggests a study.

In contrast, the presence of pain generally doesn't predict worsening sleep problems during the transition between adolescence and young adulthood, according to the new research by Drs. Irma J. Bonvanie and colleagues of University of Groningen, the Netherlands. They believe that early identification and treatment of sleep problems might help reduce later problems with pain in some groups of emerging adults.

Which Comes First--Sleep Problems or Pain?

Drs. Bonvanie and colleagues analyzed "bidirectional" relationships between sleep problems and pain in a follow-up study of young adults, ages 19-22. The study focused on overall chronic pain as well as specific types of pain: musculoskeletal, headache, and abdominal pain.

The long-term associations between sleep problems and three pain types were compared between the sexes, and the mediating effects of anxiety and depression, fatigue, and physical activity were explored. The study included approximately 1,750 young Dutch men and women who were followed for three years.

About half of young people who had sleep problems at the initial evaluation still had them three years later. At baseline, subjects with sleep problems were more likely to have chronic pain and had more severe musculoskeletal, headache, and abdominal pain.

Three years later, those with sleep problems were more likely to have new or persistent chronic pain. Overall, 38 percent of emerging adults with severe sleep problems at initial evaluation had chronic pain at follow-up, compared with 14 percent of those without initial sleep problems.

The relationship between sleep problems and pain was stronger in women than men--a difference that may start around older adolescence/emerging adulthood. Fatigue appeared to be a modest mediating factor, while anxiety/depression and lack of physical activity were not significant contributors.

Sleep problems predicted increased severity of abdominal pain in women only but did not predict headache severity in either sex. Abdominal pain was the only type of pain associated with a long-term increase in sleep problems, and the effect was small.

"Emerging characterized by psychosocial and behavioral changes, such as altered sleep patterns," Drs. Bonvanie and coauthors write. Chronic pain is also common in this age group, especially among women. Sleep problems might be an important risk factor for increased pain, acting through altered pain thresholds, emotional disturbances, or behavioral changes.

The new study suggests that sleep problems are significantly associated with chronic pain and specific types of pain problems in emerging adults. "Our findings indicate the sleep problems are not only a precursor for pain, but actually predict the persistence of chronic pain and an increase in pain levels," say the researchers. In addition, they conclude, "Our findings suggest that sleep problems may be an additional target for treatment and prevention strategies in female emerging adults with chronic pain and musculoskeletal pain."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Bilingual baby brains show increased activity in executive function regions

April 4, 2016
Science Daily/University of Washington
Babies raised in bilingual households show brain activity associated with executive functioning as early as 11 months of age, new research demonstrates. The study also gives evidence that the brains of babies from bilingual families remain more open to learning new language sounds, compared with babies from monolingual families.
New findings from the University of Washington show that babies raised in bilingual households show brain activity associated with executive functioning as early as 11 months of age.
Credit: Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, UW

Now new findings reveal that this bilingualism-related difference in brain activity is evident as early as 11 months of age, just as babies are on the verge of producing their first words.

"Our results suggest that before they even start talking, babies raised in bilingual households are getting practice at tasks related to executive function," said Naja Ferjan Ramírez, lead author and a research scientist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington.

"This suggests that bilingualism shapes not only language development, but also cognitive development more generally," she said.

The study also gives evidence that the brains of babies from bilingual families remain more open to learning new language sounds, compared with babies from monolingual families.

The study was published online April 4 in Developmental Science and will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal.

"Monolingual babies show a narrowing in their perception of sounds at about 11 months of age -- they no longer discriminate foreign-language sounds they successfully discriminated at 6 months of age," said co-author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS.

"But babies raised listening to two languages seem to stay 'open' to the sounds of novel languages longer than their monolingual peers, which is a good and highly adaptive thing for their brains to do," Kuhl said.

The researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures magnetic changes given off by active nerve cells. Unlike other brain-imaging methods, MEG can precisely pinpoint both the timing and location of activity in the brain.

The study is the first to use MEG to do whole-brain analyses comparing activation patterns in response to speech sounds in babies raised in monolingual and bilingual households.

In the experiment, 16 11-month-old babies -- 8 from English-only households and 8 from Spanish-English households, and an even mix of demographic factors such as the family's socioeconomic status -- sat in a highchair beneath the helmet-like MEG scanner.

The babies listened to an 18-minute stream of speech sounds, such as "da's" and "ta's." The stream included sounds specific to English or Spanish, and sounds shared by the two languages.

See a video of the experimental set-up:

The researchers compared monolingual and bilingual babies' brain responses to the language sounds.

The most obvious difference they saw was in two brain regions associated with executive function, the prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. In these regions, the Spanish-English bilingual babies had stronger brain responses to speech sounds, compared with English-only babies.

The findings align with brain studies in bilingual and monolingual adults, Ferjan Ramírez said. The boost bilingualism gives to executive function areas in the brain could arise from bilinguals needing to switch back and forth between languages, allowing them to routinely practice and improve executive function skills.

Other brain evidence from the study should be a relief for parents wondering if their bilingual baby is learning enough language:

- Bilingual babies displayed neural sensitivity to both English and Spanish sounds, meaning that they were learning both languages.
- Bilingual babies had the same sensitivity to English sounds as the monolingual babies, which suggests that they were learning English at the same rate as the monolingual babies.

"The 11-month-old baby brain is learning whatever language or languages are present in the environment and is equally capable of learning two languages as it is of learning one language," Ferjan Ramírez said.

"Our results underscore the notion that not only are very young children capable of learning multiple languages, but that early childhood is the optimum time for them to begin," she said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Small increases in sleep improve grades

April 5, 2016
Science Daily/McGill University
Elementary school-age children who improved their sleep habits also improved in their academic performance, according to a new study.

Using a collaborative approach, called Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR), the team developed a program in conjunction with educators using experiential learning to provide students with competencies needed for real-world success by addressing real-world problems and situations through teacher directed and facilitated learning. "We found that cumulative average extension of five nights × 18.2 min = 91 min in total had a significant impact on report card grades," says McGill professor and lead researcher Reut Gruber.

The method

Six interactive classes, two hour sessions, given over a six-week period, were offered during school time by the students' homeroom teachers.

Gruber's research team, in collaboration with Gail Somerville from Riverside School Board in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, studied 74 healthy children between 7 and 11 years of age.

Materials were tailored to the child's level, for example, here is a video for the Cycle 1 (Grades 1 and 2) group: 

Parents attached the actiwatch to the child's non-dominant wrist at bedtime for four weeknights and provided their child's most recent report card. They kept a diary of their child's daily bedtime and wake time (sleep log) during the same period.

Worth the effort

Participation in the program yielded improvements in sleep and report card grades. Specifically, participation in the intervention was associated with improved grades in English and mathematics.

The takeaway for parents

+ Small cumulative sleep extension may lead to improved academic performance

+ Parents are advised to ensure their children get sufficient amount of healthy sleep every night.

The takeaway for schools

+Re-evaluate how to encourage integration of sleep education programs to the health curriculum

Science Daily/SOURCE :

What should concerned parents do?

If a child's negative behavior lasts for months and is adversely affecting her or his social relationships and school performance, then it's worth having your child evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist for ADHD and other mental disorders.

Parents of girls with ADHD should carefully monitor signs of disruptive behavior, anxiety and depression, Tung said. "Early management of ADHD and related symptoms will be critical in helping young girls function successfully at school and socially, and feel confident," she said.

"People tend to think of girls as having higher risk for depression and anxiety disorders, and boys as being more likely to exhibit conduct disorders, but we found that ADHD for girls substantially increases their risk for these conduct disorders," Tung said. "In many cases, the school can provide support, including an evaluation by a school psychologist."

Approximately five to seven percent of elementary school students have oppositional defiant disorder and approximately one to two percent of elementary school students have conduct disorder, Lee said. Fewer girls than boys have these disorders.

The good news, the psychologists said, is that there are effective treatments -- some involving pharmaceuticals, and others that involve seeing a therapist, as well as effective parenting strategies to manage the behavior.

"Kids with ADHD need structure and consistency, more than the average child; they need to know the rules and the rules need to be applied consistently," Lee said.

Lee and Tung recommend that parents provide positive reinforcement for good behavior; this does not have to be monetary.

"For some of these kids, getting negative attention may be their only way of getting attention," Tung said.

"Catch your child being good, and reward that," Lee said. Children will sometimes react negatively to rewards in the beginning, and parents at that point will often stop, but should continue, he added. "The child's behavior will often get worse before it gets better."

Children with ADHD are two to three times more likely than children without the disorder to develop serious substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood, Lee and colleagues reported in 2011.

To receive a diagnosis of ADHD by a child psychologist or psychiatrist, a child must have at least six of nine symptoms of either hyperactivity or inattention, the child's behavior must be causing problems in his or her life, and the symptoms must not be explainable by any medical condition or any other mental disorder.

In addition, the symptoms must have started before age 12, must be present in multiple settings -- at home and school, for example -- and must be adversely affecting functioning.

Many more children meet the criteria for ADHD than are being treated for it, and many children may benefit from treatment who are not receiving it, Lee said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Studying: Is it bad for your health to pull an all-nighter?

September 19, 2016

Science Daily/Texas A&M University

A late night at the library, copious amounts of energy drinks or coffee and class notes from the last month; surely you’ll be able to ace the exam if you just spend the next 24 hours focused on the material. Unfortunately, procrastination and sleep deprivation do much more harm than good

A sleep deprived brain is dysfunctional

We will all probably encounter sleep deprivation at some point in our lives, whether willingly or unwillingly. Still, if you think staying awake all night is beneficial to your study habits, think again.

"Sleep deprivation's effect on working memory is staggering," said David Earnest, PhD, a professor with the Texas A&M College of Medicine who studies circadian rhythms (our 24-hour body clocks). "Your brain loses efficiency with each hour of sleep deprivation."

Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep at night for the body and brain to function normally. So, if you stay up all night, missing out on the recommended amount of sleep, your brain will be equally as weary -- rendering a sharp decrease in performance for specific learning and memory tasks.

All-nighters activate short-term, not long-term memory

Let's face it, we only pull all-nighters when we've fallen behind and are trying to rapidly catch up on information or a project. But quickly trying to cram this information into our brains only uses short-term memory -- and long-term memory is what we need to recall and retain most facts.

"When we try to learn information quickly, we're only enabling short-term memory," Earnest said. "This memory type extinguishes rapidly. If you don't 're-use' information, it disappears within a period of a few minutes to a few hours. Cramming doesn't allow information to assimilate from short-term to long-term memory, which is important for performing well on a project or exam."

Remember Dory's short-term memory problems in Finding Nemo? That's your brain on an all-nighter.

Use it, or you'll lose it

Earnest said studying in small increments, well in advance of an exam, is your best bet to achieve a good score. In other words, use it or you'll lose it.

"It's fruitless to prepare for an exam hours beforehand," he said. "The optimal study method is to stay on top of things and prepare by studying in small chunks (20 to 30 minutes), multiple times per day, three to four days in advance of the test. By going through information numerous times, you're allowing your brain to move those facts to long-term memory for better recall."

"I tell our medical students that verbal rehearsal is what moves content from short-term to long-term memory," Earnest continued. "Repeating information, whether out loud or verbalizing it in your thoughts, helps spur this process forward."

Study earlier for better retention

As the day wears on, the brain also becomes wearier. This daily rhythm in cognitive performance is controlled by our body clocks, and performance for learning and memory is higher during the morning and day, not late at night.

"As the day progresses into the night, the brain's performance significantly decreases," Earnest said. "So, by studying all night, you're essentially swimming upstream and fighting against your body's natural rhythms. Peak cognitive efficiency occurs much earlier in the day."

Instead of staying up all night, Earnest recommends studying as much as you can until bedtime and waking up early in the morning before a test to go over the material again. "Sleep rejuvenates by providing an opportunity for the metabolism, body and brain to slow down and recover," he said. "It's crucial that it's not missed."

Ditch the sound bite mentality

It's easy to become overwhelmed with the tasks in front of you, especially since there are only so many hours in a day to achieve our goals.

"The problem is our society thinks in sound bites," Earnest said. "We believe we can comprehend information at the last minute, which is unwise. "If we perpetuate this habit in college, it will have a great impact on us both academically and personally. Establishing good habits early on is the key to success."
Science Daily/SOURCE :


Better, cost-effective depression treatment for teens identified

September 20, 2016
Science Daily/Seattle Children's Hospital
Depression can create a huge cost burden on patients and institutions, and for teenagers that includes issues like missed school and the costs of healthcare for families. A new study identifies a cost-effective treatment that yields promising results for depressed teens.

Depression can create a huge cost burden on patients and institutions, and for teenagers that includes issues like missed school and the costs of healthcare for families. A new study in JAMA Pediatrics, led by Seattle Children's Research Institute and Group Health Cooperative, identifies a cost-effective treatment that yields promising results for depressed teens.

"We used a collaborative care approach to treat teen depression, which included having a depression care manager who worked with the patient, family and doctors to develop a plan and support the teen in implementing that plan," said Dr. Laura Richardson, an adolescent medicine physician and researcher at Seattle Children's. "We were pleased to find that this collaborative approach was significantly more effective in treating depression than standard care with only a small increase in costs."

Collaborative care led to better results

Richardson and her co-investigators worked with nine Group Health Cooperative primary care clinics in Washington to test the collaborative care approach in adolescents aged 13 to 18.

Teens in the intervention received an initial engagement session with a clinician, evidence-based treatments delivered in the primary care clinic and regular monitoring by the care manager for one year. The control group received depression screening results and were encouraged to access mental health services available to them through Group Health Cooperative.

"One of the hallmarks of depression is lack of motivation, so having a care manager to keep a patient on track turned out to be pivotal," Richardson said. "Whether the care manager was ensuring a patient got the prescription they need, providing psychotherapy or coordinating care among providers, the continuity in care made a difference for these teens."

After one year, the adolescents who received the intervention had five times greater odds of having their symptoms go into remission than the control group who received standard care. By the end of the study, nearly 70% of adolescents in collaborative care had a significant decrease in their symptoms compared to 40% of teens in standard care.

Richardson adds that teens who seek help for depression can become frustrated by the burden of making appointments, finding providers and accessing services, and when that happens they are less likely to comply with care.

"If a patient struggles to navigate the system and the depression remains untreated for a period of time, it can become harder to treat," she said.

Similar costs, better outcomes

One of the most important findings was the cost comparison of standard care versus the collaborative care approach. The intervention had an additional cost of just $883 above usual care.

With such a small added upfront cost, Richardson says the collaborative care approach may help teens deal with depression before it becomes intractable. It also provides them with tools they can use if their depression recurs, which may further reduce long-term costs for both the patient and the healthcare system.

"If we can get depressed teens effective treatment and start them on a healthy path, it results in a positive experience and a drive to engage in care," Richardson said. "This approach could help adolescents develop healthy habits toward getting care for depression, and that can set them up for a much better future."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

ADHD diagnosis puts girls at much higher risk for other mental health problems

October 4, 2016
Science Daily/University of California - Los Angeles
Girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are at higher risk than girls without ADHD for multiple mental disorders that often lead to cascading problems such as abusive relationships, teenage pregnancies, poor grades and drug abuse, psychologists report.

The researchers, who conducted by far the most comprehensive analysis of girls and ADHD, report:

•    37.7 percent of girls with ADHD met criteria for an anxiety disorder, compared with only 13.9 percent of girls without ADHD.
•    10.3 percent of girls with ADHD were diagnosed with depression compared with only 2.9 percent without ADHD.
•    42 percent of girls with ADHD were diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, compared with just 5 percent of girls without it. Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by angry, hostile, irritable, defiant behavior. To meet the diagnosis for oppositional defiant disorder, a child must display at least four of eight symptoms for at least six months that result in significant academic, social and family problems.
•    12.8 percent of girls with ADHD were diagnosed with conduct disorder compared with only 0.8 percent without ADHD. Conduct disorder is similar to oppositional defiant disorder, but with more severe behavioral problems, such as committing violent acts, setting fires and hurting animals.

"We knew the girls with ADHD would have more problems than the girls without ADHD, but we were surprised that conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder were at the top of the list, not depression or anxiety," said Steve Lee, a UCLA associate professor of psychology and senior author of the study. "These conduct disorders, more than anxiety and depression, predict severe adult impairments, such as risky sexual behavior, abusive relationships, drug abuse and crime."

Symptoms of ADHD include being easily distracted, fidgeting, being unable to complete a single task and being easily bored. The disorder occurs in approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of children in the United States, and figures in many other industrialized countries with compulsory education are comparable, Lee said. ADHD can begin in pre-school kids and can persist into high school and into adulthood, especially when it's accompanied by oppositional conduct disorder.

The psychologists analyzed 18 studies of 1,997 girls, about 40 percent (796) of whom had ADHD. Most of the girls were between ages 8 and 13. Most ADHD studies focused on boys, or compared girls with ADHD to boys with ADHD -- not to girls without ADHD.

ADHD is often harder to detect in girls than in boys because girls with the disorder may appear disengaged, forgetful or disorganized, and perceived as "spacey" and stay "under the radar" without being referred for assessment and treatment, said lead author Irene Tung, a UCLA graduate student in psychology and National Science Foundation graduate research fellow.


Students of all races prefer teachers of color

October 5, 2016
Science Daily/New York University
Middle and high school students, regardless of their race and ethnicity, have more favorable perceptions of their Black and Latino teachers than of their White teachers, finds a new study.

"Minority teachers may be perceived more favorably by minority students because they can serve as role models and are particularly sensitive to the cultural needs of their students," said study author Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, assistant professor of international education at NYU Steinhardt. "However, in our study, we were surprised to find that minority teachers are not just viewed more highly than White teachers by minority students, but in many cases by White students as well."

The findings, published in the latest issue of Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, underscore the importance of having a diverse workforce of teachers.

The demographic divide between teachers and students is of growing public concern. Racial and ethnic minority students make up the majority of students in public schools, especially in urban areas. In contrast, less than 20 percent of teachers are racial or ethnic minorities.

"An overwhelmingly White teacher force is working with a majority non-White student population," Cherng said.

People typically view the demographic divide through longstanding racial achievement gaps, and scholars have argued that teachers of color may work particularly well with students of color. This concept of race matching -- where, for instance, Black students prefer or perform better with Black teachers -- has been shown to boost student achievement.

In the new study, the researchers examined whether student perceptions of their teachers varied based on the teachers' race. Cherng and his coauthor Peter Halpin, assistant professor of applied statistics at NYU Steinhardt, analyzed data from the 2009-2010 school year of the Measure of Effective Teaching study. The researchers focused on data from 1,680 teachers in 200 urban schools, along with their more than 50,000 students in grades six through nine.

The Measure of Effective Teaching study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, used in-depth surveys to gather students' perceptions of their teachers' instructional practices. The students were asked questions on seven measures core to their experiences in the classroom, including whether their teacher treats students with respect, explains difficult concepts clearly, makes class interesting, and tries to understand students' feelings.

The researchers found that students perceived Black and Latino teachers more favorably than White teachers. These patterns remained largely intact, particularly for Latino teachers, even after considering factors such as student performance, teacher working conditions, and other measures of teacher efficacy. Latino teachers were better perceived across all measures, while students perceived Black teachers (more than their White peers) to hold students to high academic standards and support their efforts, to help them organize content, and to explain ideas clearly and provide feedback.

Interestingly, the researchers found mixed evidence of race matching among students of color: Latino students did not have particularly favorable perceptions of Latino teachers, but Black students did have positive perceptions of Black teachers -- and Asian American students preferred Black teachers even more than did Black students.

Fewer indications of ADHD in children whose mothers took vitamin D during pregnancy

October 7, 2016
Science Daily/University of Southern Denmark Faculty of Health Sciences
Children of mothers who took vitamin D during pregnancy with resultant high levels of the vitamin in the umbilical blood have fewer symptoms of ADHD at the age of 2½ years.

These were the findings in a new study from the Odense Child Cohort just published in The Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

 "And for every 10 nmol/L increase in the vitamin D concentration in umbilical blood, the risk of a being among the 10% highest score on the ADHD symptom scale fell by 11%," explains one of the study's initiators, Professor Niels Bilenberg.

1,233 children from Odense Municipality were monitored in the study. Vitamin D was measured in umbilical blood, and mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) when their child was 2½ years old. The CBCL questionnaire can be used to identify early symptoms of ADHD, even though an ADHD diagnosis cannot be made at that age.

"And the trend was clear: those mothers who had taken vitamin D, and had a vitamin D level (25OHD) in their umbilical blood over 25 nmol/L, had children with lower ADHD scores," continues Bilenberg. "This was after we had corrected for other factors that could explain the link, such as the mother's age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, education, number of children, psychiatric disease in the parents, child's sex, age and seasonal variation."

The link between vitamin D and early ADHD symptoms has not been described before, and has therefore attracted attention.

"We were very surprised that the link was so clear," say two of the study's other authors, medical students Jens Bull Aaby and Mats Mossin, "as there was no previous awareness that this link could be identified at such an early age. It's impossible to say with which children will develop ADHD later on, but it will be interesting to further follow up those children who were at the highest end versus the normal range of the ADHD scale."

The study offers no explanation as to how vitamin D can protect against ADHD, but other studies have shown that vitamin D plays an important role in the early development of the brain.

"We had an idea about it," says Aaby, "but we cannot say with certainty that vitamin D protects against early symptoms of ADHD. Our study only indicates that there is a link that we cannot explain in any other way."

Facts: Odense Børnekohorte is a joint study between Odense University Hospital, the Psychiatric Service of the Region of Southern Denmark, Odense Municipality, and the University of Southern Denmark. In the study, 2,500 mothers and their children are being monitored from early pregnancy to the child's 18th birthday. The children are now 3-5 years old and a number of follow-up studies are planned.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Teachers could be making students’ anxiety worse

October 12, 2016
Science Daily/Michigan State University
The anxiety that comes with feeling like an outsider in the classroom can hinder students’ learning and, ironically, teachers could be making it worse, according to a new study by a Michigan State University researcher.

Scholarship students, first-generation college students and minorities feel intense pressure to perform well -- much of which is perpetuated by stereotypes that society, including teachers, reinforce, said Peter De Costa, assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, who specializes in identity and language learning.

And unfortunately, those perceived identities could affect students' access to resources.

"If your identity is defined by your social class -- for example, working class -- you're not going to have the resources that someone who came from a wealthier family might have," De Costa said. "Students could also be seen through the lens of gender or religion, and if teachers already have a stereotype of students' ethnic groups, it could advantage or disadvantage them."

Instead, it's important to realize how events and time periods throughout students' lives shape their identities -- something teachers often forget, he said.

The concept is called scalar analysis, which De Costa used in 2008 to study the trajectory of five girls at a Singapore high school where he taught.

In his study, published in the journal Linguistics and Education, De Costa illustrates his argument with the story of Daniella, a high-achieving student from Vietnam who came to the high school on a government-issued scholarship.

While Daniella was at the top of her class in Vietnam, she was simply average in Singapore. Yet, because of her perceived elite status, envious students often excluded Daniella from classroom conversations and activities. Eventually, she crumbled under pressure and became even more socially isolated.

Daniella's story may have turned out differently if her peers and teachers had better understood the many layers of Daniella, which in turn could have relieved her self-induced anxiety, De Costa said.

Those layers: pre-2008, as an only child whose parents viewed her as a ticket to a better life; a mediocre student in 2008; and post-2008, where she envisioned moving to the United States to live a better life, but failed.

"For someone who's used to being the star in her previous school, this was terrible for her," De Costa said. "Daniella went from high profile to invisible. Essentially, Daniella moved from princess to nobody."

So what should teachers do?

For starters: Don't judge a book by its cover. In addition, teachers should explore resources for all students, De Costa said. And, why not turn such experiences into teaching moments for students?

"As teachers, we need to be committed to educational justice and rethink how we position our students," he said. "It's not always so simple and our perception matters."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Sleep-deprived preschoolers eat more Study has implications for childhood obesity

October 13, 2016
Science Daily/University of Colorado at Boulder
Sleep-deprived preschoolers consumed about 20 percent more calories than usual, 25 percent more sugar and 26 percent more carbohydrates, say researchers. The following day, the kids were allowed to sleep as much as they needed. On this "recovery day," they returned to normal baseline levels of sugar and carbohydrate consumption, but still consumed 14 percent more calories and 23 percent more fat than normal.

During the day of lost sleep, the 3- and 4-year-olds consumed about 20 percent more calories than usual, 25 percent more sugar and 26 percent more carbohydrates, said Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, lead study author. The following day, the kids were allowed to sleep as much as they needed. On this "recovery day," they returned to normal baseline levels of sugar and carbohydrate consumption, but still consumed 14 percent more calories and 23 percent more fat than normal.

"With this study design, children missed a daytime nap and stayed up late, which mimics one way that children lose sleep in the real world," said LeBourgeois of the Department of Integrative Physiology. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 30 percent of preschoolers do not get enough sleep.

"We found that sleep loss increased the dietary intake of preschoolers on both the day of and the day after restricted sleep," she said. These results may shed light on how sleep loss can increase weight gain and why a number of large studies show that preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be obese as a child and later in life.

A paper on the study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Even with extensive obesity prevention efforts in the past decade, childhood obesity remains an epidemic. In 2014, 23 percent of American children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese, said LeBourgeois. Childhood obesity increases the risk for later life chronic illnesses like diabetes and is associated with low self-esteem and depression. Overweight youth are about four times more likely to be obese as adults.

"We think one of the beauties of this study is that parents were given no instructions regarding the kind or amount of food or beverages to provide their children," said LeBourgeois. Parents fed their children just like they would on any normal day.

The researchers also studied each child across all study conditions -- meaning when their sleep was optimized, restricted and recovered -- which gave them control over how kids could differ individually in their eating preferences and sleep.

The children in the study -- five girls and five boys -- each wore small activity sensors on their wrists to measure time in bed, sleep duration and sleep quality. Parents logged all food and beverages consumed by the preschoolers, including portion sizes, brand names and quantities, using household measures like grams, teaspoons and cups. For homemade dishes parents recorded ingredients, quantities and cooking methods.

"To our knowledge, this is the first published study to experimentally measure the effects of sleep loss on food consumption in preschool children," said Elsa Mullins, the study first author and a CU Boulder researcher who worked with LeBourgeois as an undergraduate. "Our results are consistent with those from other studies of adults and adolescents, showing increased caloric intake on days that subjects were sleep deprived," she said.

Other CU Boulder co-authors include Professor Kenneth Wright, graduate student Sherin Cherian and postdoctoral fellow Salome Kurth. University of Michigan co-authors include Dr. Julie Lumeng and Associate Professor Alison Miller.

The new study opens the door for a number of follow-up studies using larger samples, experimentally controlling dietary intake and objectively measuring energy expenditure in children. The study was funded in part by a National Institute of Mental Health grant to LeBourgeois and undergraduate research grants to Mullins from CU Boulder.

Another study involving Kurth and LeBourgeois supported by a Jacobs Foundation grant and in collaboration with Brown University was recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Findings showed that the developing brain regions of school-age children are the hardest hit by sleep restriction.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Link found between selfie viewing, decreased self-esteem

October 19, 2016
Science Daily/Penn State University
Frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites like Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction, according to researchers. Viewing behavior is also called "lurking" -- when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer. This form of participation in social media may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study has revealed the exact opposite.
The researchers discovered the more often people viewed their own and others' selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Credit: © patramansky / Fotolia

Viewing behavior is also called "lurking" -- when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer. This form of participation in social media may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study, published online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics, revealed the exact opposite.

Wang and Fan Yang, graduate student in mass communications, conducted an online survey to collect data on the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies. They worked with Wang's graduate adviser, Michel Haigh, associate professor in communications. Posting behavior did not have significant psychological effects for participants. Viewing behavior did. They discovered the more often people viewed their own and others' selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction.

"People usually post selfies when they're happy or having fun," said Wang. "This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think your his or her life is not as great as theirs."

Those participants categorized as having a strong desire to appear popular were even more sensitive to selfie and groupie viewing. In this case, however, Sselfie and groupie viewing behavior increased the self-esteem and life satisfaction for these participants, likely because this activity satisfied the participants' desires to appear popular, according to the researchers.

Wang and Yang hope their work can raise awareness about social media use and the effect it has on viewers of people's social networks.

"We don't often think about how what we post affects the people around us," said Yang. "I think this study can help people understand the potential consequences of their posting behavior. This can help counselors work with students feeling lonely, unpopular, or unsatisfied with their lives."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Later start times better for high school students: Poor self-regulation in teens linked to circadian rhythms

Findings support later start times for middle schools and high schools

November 3, 2016
Science Daily/Boston Children's Hospital
Chronic insufficient sleep is at epidemic levels in U.S. teens and has been associated with depression, substance use, accidents, and academic failure. Poor self-regulation or an inability to alter thinking, emotions, and behaviors to meet varying social demands is thought to be a key link between inadequate sleep in teens and poor health and school-related outcomes. However, a study has found that the number of hours teens sleep on school nights may not be the main problem.
Daytime sleepiness and a tendency to be a "night owl," referred to as an evening chronotype, appear to be strongly associated with poor self-regulation.
Credit: © Peter Atkins / Fotolia

"The results of this study suggest it's not how long you sleep that has the biggest impact on self- regulation, but when you sleep in relation to the body's natural circadian rhythms and how impaired you are by sleepiness," says Owens, director of the Sleep Center at Boston Children's and first author on the paper.

Owens, Whitaker and colleagues analyzed 2,017 online surveys completed by 7th -- to 12th-graders from 19 middle and high schools in Fairfax County, VA. Each student completed questionnaires about sleep along with questions about self-regulation, including cognitive aspects (for example, "I forget instructions easily"), behavioral aspect (e.g., "I am impulsive") and emotional aspects (e.g., "It bothers me when I have to deal with changes.").

Nearly 22 percent of the students reported sleeping fewer than seven hours on school nights. (In contrast, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends eight to 10 hours for 13- to 18-year-olds for optimal health and functioning.) Sleep duration, daytime sleepiness and chronotype were clearly interconnected; night owls slept less on school nights and were sleepier in the daytime, as were those who slept fewer hours.

But when the researchers examined all three aspects of sleep together and adjusted for age, sociodemographic factors and mental health conditions like ADHD, depression and anxiety, it was daytime sleepiness and "night owl" tendencies that independently predicted impaired self-regulation -- while sleep duration did not.

Sleepier adolescents reported significantly worse self-regulation, as did teens who tended to be "night owls" rather than "morning larks." The findings held for all types of self-regulation but were most robust for cognitive and emotional aspects.

Owens believes her data support later start times for middle school and high school, to match the natural shift in adolescents' circadian pattern toward the eveningness chronotype. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations in 2014 calling for a school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high schools.

"The 'misalignment' or mismatch between early school start times and teens' circadian rhythms -- which normally shift later with puberty -- may worsen self-regulation or so-called 'executive functioning,'" says Owens. "However, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than 20 percent of public middle and high schools in the U.S. start at the recommended time," Owens says. "We hope the results of this study will add to the mounting scientific evidence supporting healthy school start times."

The researchers note that being out of biological sync with school schedules forces adolescents to wake up when they are at their lowest level of alertness (the equivalent of 3 a.m. for adults). They also miss out on rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which is concentrated in the early morning hours and is critical for forming memories and learning new information. On weekends, late bedtimes and late wake times become even more extreme, contributing to the phenomenon termed "social jet lag" and exacerbating sleepiness on school days.

"Children and adolescents with better self-regulation have better physical health, mental health and financial security as adults," says Whitaker, a co-author on the study and a professor of public health and pediatrics at Temple. "So we need to understand how sleep and other factors optimize the development of self-regulation."
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Music therapy reduces depression in children, adolescents

November 3, 2016
Science Daily/Bournemouth University
Music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems, researchers have discovered.

In partnership with Every Day Harmony (the brand name for Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust), the researchers found that children and young people, aged 8 -- 16 years old, who received music therapy had significantly improved self-esteem and significantly reduced depression compared with those who received treatment without music therapy.

The study, which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, also found that young people aged 13 and over who received music therapy had improved communicative and interactive skills, compared to those who received usual care options alone. Music therapy also improved social functioning over time in all age groups.

In the largest ever study of its kind, 251 children and young people were involved in the study which took place between March 2011 and May 2014. They were divided into two groups -- 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioural problems.

Professor Sam Porter of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work at Bournemouth University, who led the study, said: "This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs. The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support."

Dr Valerie Holmes, Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast and co-researcher, added: "This is the largest study ever to be carried out looking at music therapy's ability to help this very vulnerable group."

Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of Every Day Harmony, the music therapy charity that was a partner in the research, said: "Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trail in a clinical setting. The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option. For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects. I would like to record my gratefulness to the Big Lottery Fund for its vision in providing the resources for this research to be carried out."

The research team will now look at the data to establish how cost-effective music therapy is in relation to other treatments.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

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