Thursday January 17, 2019

Stress During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Mood Disorder in Daughters

The researchers then used brain imaging to examine connectivity in the newborns soon after birth, before the external environment had begun shaping brain development,

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Maternal stress can increase mood disorder risk in daughters: Study
Maternal stress can increase mood disorder risk in daughters: Study Pixabay

Daughters born to women with high levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — during pregnancy could be at an increased risk of developing anxious and depressive-like behaviours by the age of two, a new study has reported.

The effect of elevated maternal cortisol appeared to result from patterns of stronger communication between brain regions important for sensory and emotion processing.

It could be because maternal stress may alter connectivity in amygdala — a brain region important for emotion processing — in the developing foetus, suggesting that vulnerability for developing a mood disorder is programmed from birth.

This could be an early point at which the risk for common psychiatric disorders begins to differ in males and females, the researchers explained.

“Higher maternal cortisol during pregnancy was linked to alterations in the newborns’ functional brain connectivity, affecting how different brain regions can communicate with each other,” said Claudia Buss from Charite University Medicine Berlin in Germany.

Muslim Women, Stress
Higher maternal cortisol during pregnancy was linked to alterations in the newborns’ functional brain connectivity. Pixabay

“Many mood and anxiety disorders are approximately twice as common in females as in males. The study highlights one unexpected sex-specific risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders in females,” said John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, in which the study is published.

Conversely, sons born to mothers with high cortisol during pregnancy did not demonstrate the stronger brain connectivity, or an association between maternal cortisol and mood symptoms, the researchers said.

For the study, the team measured cortisol levels over multiple days in early, mid and late pregnancy.

Also Read: Microbes May be Stirring Up Anxiety and Depression in Obese People

Measurements taken from nearly 100 mothers reflected typical variation in maternal cortisol levels.

The researchers then used brain imaging to examine connectivity in the newborns soon after birth, before the external environment had begun shaping brain development, and measured infant anxious and depressive-like behaviours at two years of age. (IANS)

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Nature Therapy Can Reduce Distress, Behavioural Problems in Kids

The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children

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Being closer to nature Can Reduce Distress, Behavioural Problems in Kids. Pixabay

Does your child often feel stressed and depressed? A walk in the woods is likely to improve his/her mood, researchers said.

The study, led by a team from the University of Hong Kong, revealed that children who developed a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity and had a healthy lifestyle with regard to active play and eating habits.

They also had fewer behavioural and emotional difficulties, as well as improved pro-social behaviour.

However, despite the extensive, adjacent greenness, many families are not using these areas, the researchers rued in the paper published in the PLOS ONE journal.

“We noticed a tendency where parents are avoiding nature. They perceive it as dirty and dangerous, and their children unfortunately pick up these attitudes,” said Tanja Sobko from the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

Kids play skip rope on Morro Strand State Beach. Flickr

In addition, the green areas are often unwelcoming with signs like “Keep off the grass”, Sobko added.

Recent research shows that spending time with nature may bring many health benefits, and many environmental programmes around the world are trying to decrease ‘nature-deficit’ and ‘child-nature disconnectedness’ in order to improve children’s health.

For the study, the team prepared a new 16-item parent questionnaire (CNI-PPC) to measure “connectedness to nature’ in very young children. The questionnaire identified four areas that reflect the child-nature relationship: enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility towards nature and awareness of nature.

Also Read- Soothing Colours, Right Scent Aid Sound Sleep

The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children.

The team further plans to test the effect of exposing children to nature and changes in their gut microbiota. (IANS)