Tulane University study: Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress

9 Dec

Both the culture and the economy are experiencing turmoil. For some communities, the unsettled environment is a new phenomenon, for other communities, children have been stressed for generations. According to the article, Understanding Depression which was posted at the Kids Health site:

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds.
As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8. http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/understanding_depression.html

Jyoti Madhusoodanan and Nature magazine reported in the Scientific American article, Stress Alters Children’s Genomes:

Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed. Telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes from fraying over time, are shorter in children from poor and unstable homes than in children from more nurturing families…
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stress-alters-childrens-genomes/?WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

Not only are the child’s gene’s altered, but there are behavioral indications of the stress being felt by the child.

Science Daily reported in Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress:

How do you stop a child, especially one who has experienced significant adversity, from growing up to be a psychopath? Responsive, empathetic caregiving — especially when children are in distress — helps prevent boys from becoming callous, unemotional adolescents, according to a new Tulane University study of children raised in foster care.

The research, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is the first to show that an intervention can prevent the precursors to psychopathy. The destructive condition affects approximately 1 percent of the population and is characterized by callous interpersonal interactions and lack of guilt or empathy.

Researchers measured levels of callous-unemotional behavior in 12-year-olds from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a cohort of children abandoned in Romanian orphanages in the early 2000s and followed longitudinally ever since. Half of these children were placed in high-quality foster care as toddlers, while others grew up in institutional care. Researchers compared their results with children who had never been orphans. The study is led by Dr. Charles H. Zeanah from Tulane, Nathan A. Fox from the University of Maryland, and Charles A. Nelson from Harvard Medical School.

Overall, children reared in orphanages had significantly higher levels of callous-unemotional traits compared to children who had never been institutionalized. Boys placed in foster care had lower levels of callous-unemotional traits than those who did not receive the intervention. What explained the difference? Researchers observed children with their caregivers as toddlers and found that the more sensitive caregivers were to a young child’s distress, the less callous and more empathic the boys were in adolescence.

Lead author Kathryn Humphreys, a who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow in infant mental health at Tulane, says the findings can help child welfare advocates target and support specific caregiver behaviors when reaching out to families.

“If we can intervene early to help kids in their development, it not only helps them but also the broader society,” she says. “The best way to do that is making sure children are placed in homes with responsive caregivers and helping caregivers learn to be more responsive to their child’s needs.” Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress: New study is the first to show that an intervention can prevent the precursors to psychopathy

Citation

Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress  New study is the first to show that an intervention can prevent the precursors to psychopathy

Date:        December 3, 2015

Source:   Tulane University

Summary:

How do you stop a child, especially one who has experienced significant adversity, from growing up to be a psychopath? Responsive, empathetic caregiving — especially when children are in distress — helps prevent boys from becoming callous, unemotional adolescents, according to a new study of children raised in foster care.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kathryn L. Humphreys, Lucy McGoron, Margaret A. Sheridan, Katie A. McLaughlin, Nathan A. Fox, Charles A. Nelson, Charles H. Zeanah. High-Quality Foster Care Mitigates Callous-Unemotional Traits Following Early Deprivation in Boys: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015; 54 (12): 977 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.09.010

Here is the press release from Tulane University:

Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress

December 3, 2015

Keith Brannon
Phone: 504-862-8789
kbrannon@tulane.edu

How do you stop a child, especially one who has experienced significant adversity, from growing up to be a psychopath? Responsive, empathetic caregiving – especially when children are in distress – helps prevent boys from becoming callous, unemotional adolescents, according to a new Tulane University study of children raised in foster care.

The research, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is the first to show that an intervention can prevent the precursors to psychopathy.

Researchers measured levels of callous-unemotional behavior in 12-year-olds from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a cohort of children abandoned in Romanian orphanages in the early 2000s and followed longitudinally ever since. Half of these children were placed in high-quality foster care as toddlers, while others grew up in institutional care. Researchers compared their results with children who had never been orphans. The study is led by Dr. Charles H. Zeanah from Tulane, Nathan A. Fox from the University of Maryland, and Charles A. Nelson from Harvard Medical School.

Overall, children reared in orphanages had significantly higher levels of callous-unemotional traits compared to children who had never been institutionalized. Boys placed in foster care had lower levels of callous-unemotional traits than those who did not receive the intervention. What explained the difference? Researchers observed children with their caregivers as toddlers and found that the more sensitive caregivers were to a young child’s distress, the less callous and more empathic the boys were in adolescence.

Lead author Kathryn Humphreys, a who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow in infant mental health at Tulane, says the findings can help child welfare advocates target and support specific caregiver behaviors when reaching out to families.

“If we can intervene early to help kids in their development, it not only helps them but also the broader society,” she says. “The best way to do that is making sure children are placed in homes with responsive caregivers and helping caregivers learn to be more responsive to their child’s needs.”                                                                                                    Tulane University – Don’t want to raise a psychopath? Be sensitive to a child’s distress                           http://tulane.edu/news/releases/how-to-prevent-raising-a-psychopath.cfm

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

Related:

GAO report: Children’s mental health services are lacking

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/12/gao-report-childrens-mental-health-services-are-lacking/

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/

University of Cambridge study: Saliva test may detect depression in kids

https://drwilda.com/2014/02/23/university-of-cambridge-study-saliva-test-may-detect-depression-in-kids/

Study: Some of the effects of adverse stress do not go away

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/study-some-of-the-effects-of-adverse-stress-do-not-go-away/

American Psychological Association: Kids too stressed out to be healthy

https://drwilda.com/2014/02/12/american-psychological-association-kids-too-stressed-out-to-be-healthy/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

https://drwilda.com/

 

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