Tag Archives: Schizophrenia

John Hopkins Medicine study: Early-life exposure to dogs may lessen risk of developing schizophrenia

27 Dec

The American Psychiatric Association wrote in What Is Schizophrenia?

What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, with treatment, most symptoms of schizophrenia will greatly improve.
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to new, safer treatments. Experts also are unraveling the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. These approaches hold the promise of new, more effective therapies.
The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent. They also are not homeless nor do they live in hospitals. Most people with schizophrenia live with family, in group homes or on their own.
Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women about equally but may have an earlier onset in males. Rates are similar around the world. People with schizophrenia are more likely to die younger than the general population, in part because of high rates of co-occurring medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes…. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia

WebMD wrote a concise description of schizophrenia in Schizophrenia: An Overview:

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Though schizophrenia isn’t as common as other major mental illnesses, it can be the most chronic and disabling.
People with schizophrenia often have problems doing well in society, at work, at school, and in relationships. They might feel frightened and withdrawn, and could appear to have lost touch with reality. This lifelong disease can’t be cured but can be controlled with proper treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality. Schizophrenia involves a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person can’t tell what’s real from what’s imagined. At times, people with psychotic disorders lose touch with reality. The world may seem like a jumble of confusing thoughts, images, and sounds. Their behavior may be very strange and even shocking. A sudden change in personality and behavior, which happens when people who have it lose touch with reality, is called a psychotic episode.
How severe schizophrenia is varies from person to person. Some people have only one psychotic episode, while others have many episodes during a lifetime but lead relatively normal lives in between. Still others may have more trouble functioning over time, with little improvement between full-blown psychotic episodes. Schizophrenia symptoms seem to worsen and improve in cycles known as relapses and remissions.
What Are the Early Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
The condition usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s. It mostly affects women in their early 20s and 30s. The period when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It can last days, weeks, or even years. It can be hard to spot because there’s usually no specific trigger. You might only notice subtle behavioral changes, especially in teens. This includes:
• A change in grades
• Social withdrawal
• Trouble concentrating
• Temper flares
• Difficulty sleeping
https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/mental-health-schizophrenia#1

Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that exposure to dogs may lessen the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Science Daily reported in Early-life exposure to dogs may lessen risk of developing schizophrenia

Ever since humans domesticated the dog, the faithful, obedient and protective animal has provided its owner with companionship and emotional well-being. Now, a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that being around “man’s best friend” from an early age may have a health benefit as well — lessening the chance of developing schizophrenia as an adult.
And while Fido may help prevent that condition, the jury is still out on whether or not there’s any link, positive or negative, between being raised with Fluffy the cat and later developing either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“Serious psychiatric disorders have been associated with alterations in the immune system linked to environmental exposures in early life, and since household pets are often among the first things with which children have close contact, it was logical for us to explore the possibilities of a connection between the two,” says Robert Yolken, M.D., chair of the Stanley Division of Pediatric Neurovirology and professor of neurovirology in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and lead author of a research paper recently posted online in the journal PLOS One.
In the study, Yolken and colleagues at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore investigated the relationship between exposure to a household pet cat or dog during the first 12 years of life and a later diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For schizophrenia, the researchers were surprised to see a statistically significant decrease in the risk of a person developing the disorder if exposed to a dog early in life. Across the entire age range studied, there was no significant link between dogs and bipolar disorder, or between cats and either psychiatric disorder.
The researchers caution that more studies are needed to confirm these findings, to search for the factors behind any strongly supported links, and to more precisely define the actual risks of developing psychiatric disorders from exposing infants and children under age 13 to pet cats and dogs.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent National Pet Owners Survey, there are 94 million pet cats and 90 million pet dogs in the United States. Previous studies have identified early life exposures to pet cats and dogs as environmental factors that may alter the immune system through various means, including allergic responses, contact with zoonotic (animal) bacteria and viruses, changes in a home’s microbiome, and pet-induced stress reduction effects on human brain chemistry.
Some investigators, Yolken notes, suspect that this “immune modulation” may alter the risk of developing psychiatric disorders to which a person is genetically or otherwise predisposed.
In their current study, Yolken and colleagues looked at a population of 1,371 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 that consisted of 396 people with schizophrenia, 381 with bipolar disorder and 594 controls. Information documented about each person included age, gender, race/ethnicity, place of birth and highest level of parental education (as a measure of socioeconomic status). Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were recruited from inpatient, day hospital and rehabilitation programs of Sheppard Pratt Health System. Control group members were recruited from the Baltimore area and were screened to rule out any current or past psychiatric disorders.
All study participants were asked if they had a household pet cat or dog or both during their first 12 years of life. Those who reported that a pet cat or dog was in their house when they were born were considered to be exposed to that animal since birth.
The relationship between the age of first household pet exposure and psychiatric diagnosis was defined using a statistical model that produces a hazard ratio — a measure over time of how often specific events (in this case, exposure to a household pet and development of a psychiatric disorder) happen in a study group compared to their frequency in a control group. A hazard ratio of 1 suggests no difference between groups, while a ratio greater than 1 indicates an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Likewise, a ratio less than 1 shows a decreased chance.
Analyses were conducted for four age ranges: birth to 3, 4 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12.
Surprisingly, Yolken says, the findings suggests that people who are exposed to a pet dog before their 13th birthday are significantly less likely — as much as 24% — to be diagnosed later with schizophrenia.
“The largest apparent protective effect was found for children who had a household pet dog at birth or were first exposed after birth but before age 3,” he says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191218153448.htm

Citation:

Early-life exposure to dogs may lessen risk of developing schizophrenia
Findings do not link similar contact with cats to either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

Date: December 18, 2019
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
Ever since humans domesticated the dog, the faithful, obedient and protective animal has provided its owner with companionship and emotional well-being. Now, a study suggests that being around ‘man’s best friend’ from an early age may have a health benefit as well — lessening the chance of developing schizophrenia as an adult.

Journal Reference:
Robert Yolken, Cassie Stallings, Andrea Origoni, Emily Katsafanas, Kevin Sweeney, Amalia Squire, Faith Dickerson. Exposure to household pet cats and dogs in childhood and risk of subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (12): e0225320 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225320

Here is the press release from Johns Hopkins Medicine:

Study suggests early-life exposure to dogs may lessen risk of developing schizophrenia
by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Ever since humans domesticated the dog, the faithful, obedient and protective animal has provided its owner with companionship and emotional well-being. Now, a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that being around “man’s best friend” from an early age may have a health benefit as well—lessening the chance of developing schizophrenia as an adult.
And while Fido may help prevent that condition, the jury is still out on whether or not there’s any link, positive or negative, between being raised with Fluffy the cat and later developing either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“Serious psychiatric disorders have been associated with alterations in the immune system linked to environmental exposures in early life, and since household pets are often among the first things with which children have close contact, it was logical for us to explore the possibilities of a connection between the two,” says Robert Yolken, M.D., chair of the Stanley Division of Pediatric Neurovirology and professor of neurovirology in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and lead author of a research paper recently posted online in the journal PLOS One.
In the study, Yolken and colleagues at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore investigated the relationship between exposure to a household pet cat or dog during the first 12 years of life and a later diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For schizophrenia, the researchers were surprised to see a statistically significant decrease in the risk of a person developing the disorder if exposed to a dog early in life. Across the entire age range studied, there was no significant link between dogs and bipolar disorder, or between cats and either psychiatric disorder.
The researchers caution that more studies are needed to confirm these findings, to search for the factors behind any strongly supported links, and to more precisely define the actual risks of developing psychiatric disorders from exposing infants and children under age 13 to pet cats and dogs.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent National Pet Owners Survey, there are 94 million pet cats and 90 million pet dogs in the United States. Previous studies have identified early life exposures to pet cats and dogs as environmental factors that may alter the immune system through various means, including allergic responses, contact with zoonotic (animal) bacteria and viruses, changes in a home’s microbiome, and pet-induced stress reduction effects on human brain chemistry.
Some investigators, Yolken notes, suspect that this “immune modulation” may alter the risk of developing psychiatric disorders to which a person is genetically or otherwise predisposed.
In their current study, Yolken and colleagues looked at a population of 1,371 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 that consisted of 396 people with schizophrenia, 381 with bipolar disorder and 594 controls. Information documented about each person included age, gender, race/ethnicity, place of birth and highest level of parental education (as a measure of socioeconomic status). Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were recruited from inpatient, day hospital and rehabilitation programs of Sheppard Pratt Health System. Control group members were recruited from the Baltimore area and were screened to rule out any current or past psychiatric disorders.
All study participants were asked if they had a household pet cat or dog or both during their first 12 years of life. Those who reported that a pet cat or dog was in their house when they were born were considered to be exposed to that animal since birth.
The relationship between the age of first household pet exposure and psychiatric diagnosis was defined using a statistical model that produces a hazard ratio—a measure over time of how often specific events (in this case, exposure to a household pet and development of a psychiatric disorder) happen in a study group compared to their frequency in a control group. A hazard ratio of 1 suggests no difference between groups, while a ratio greater than 1 indicates an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Likewise, a ratio less than 1 shows a decreased chance.
Analyses were conducted for four age ranges: birth to 3, 4 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12.
Surprisingly, Yolken says, the findings suggests that people who are exposed to a pet dog before their 13th birthday are significantly less likely—as much as 24%—to be diagnosed later with schizophrenia.
“The largest apparent protective effect was found for children who had a household pet dog at birth or were first exposed after birth but before age 3,” he says.
Yolken adds that if it is assumed that the hazard ratio is an accurate reflection of relative risk, then some 840,000 cases of schizophrenia (24% of the 3.5 million people diagnosed with the disorder in the United States) might be prevented by pet dog exposure or other factors associated with pet dog exposure.
“There are several plausible explanations for this possible ‘protective’ effect from contact with dogs—perhaps something in the canine microbiome that gets passed to humans and bolsters the immune system against or subdues a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia,” Yolken says.
For bipolar disorder, the study results suggest there is no risk association, either positive or negative, with being around dogs as an infant or young child.
Overall for all ages examined, early exposure to pet cats was neutral as the study could not link felines with either an increased or decreased risk of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“However, we did find a slightly increased risk of developing both disorders for those who were first in contact with cats between the ages of 9 and 12,” Yolken says. “This indicates that the time of exposure may be critical to whether or not it alters the risk.”
One example of a suspected pet-borne trigger for schizophrenia is the disease toxoplasmosis, a condition in which cats are the primary hosts of a parasite transmitted to humans via the animals’ feces. Pregnant women have been advised for years not to change cat litter boxes to eliminate the risk of the illness passing through the placenta to their fetuses and causing a miscarriage, stillbirth, or potentially, psychiatric disorders in a child born with the infection.
In a 2003 review paper, Yolken and colleague E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., associate director of research at the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, provided evidence from multiple epidemiological studies conducted since 1953 that showed there also is a statistical connection between a person exposed to the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The researchers found that a large number of people in those studies who were diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, also had high levels of antibodies to the toxoplasmosis parasite.
Because of this finding and others like it, most research has focused on investigating a potential link between early exposure to cats and psychiatric disorder development. Yolken says the most recent study is among the first to consider contact with dogs as well.
“A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the associations between pet exposure and psychiatric disorders would allow us to develop appropriate prevention and treatment strategies,” Yolken says.
________________________________________
Explore further
Schizophrenia linked with abnormal immune response to Epstein-Barr virus
________________________________________
More information: Robert Yolken et al, Exposure to household pet cats and dogs in childhood and risk of subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225320
Journal information: PLoS ONE
Provided by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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University of California San Diego study: Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia

8 Dec

Bethany Yeiser wrote in the Psychology Today article, Schizophrenia and Homelessness: Paranoia drove me to sleep outside:

Over the past few years, I have been contacted by several families who have a loved one struggling with schizophrenia. Many of these people with schizophrenia are homeless.
For me, becoming homeless was a direct result of schizophrenia. Because of the illness, I could not work the easiest job or focus enough to take even one class. The illness brought on a paranoia which led me to cut off all my family members and my closest friends.
While homeless, I badly wanted a place to sleep, as I was tired of sleeping outside in a churchyard. Remarkably, I was given plenty of opportunities to leave my homeless life, and I rejected every one of them…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/recovery-road/201807/schizophrenia-and-homelessness

SARDAA has information about schizophrenia.

In Quick Facts About Schizophrenia, SARDAA reported:

Quick Facts About Schizophrenia
• Schizophrenia can be found in approximately 1.1% of the world’s population, regardless of racial, ethnic or economic background
• Approximately 3.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with schizophrenia and it is one of the leading causes of disability.
• Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the illness between 16 and 25 years of age.
• The disorder is at least partially genetic.
• To be diagnosed as having schizophrenia, one must have associated symptoms for at least six months.
• Studies have indicated that 25% of those having schizophrenia recover completely, 50% are improved over a 10-year period, and 25% do not improve over time.
• Treatment and other economic costs due to schizophrenia are enormous, estimated between $32.5 and $65 billion annually.
• Between one-third and one-half of all homeless adults have schizophrenia.
• 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have received no treatment.
To learn more, we invite you to view a presentation by Linda Whitten Stalters, APRN, BC, FAPA, SARDAA Board of Directors. https://www.slideshare.net/SARDAA https://sardaa.org/resources/about-schizophrenia/

The University of California San Diego reported that cognitive training might aid those suffering from schizophrenia.

Science daily reported in Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and working memory, which can be explained in part by abnormalities in early auditory information processing.
In recent years, targeted cognitive training (TCT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention. TCT uses computerized training, such as sophisticated brain games, to target specific neural pathways, such as memory, learning and auditory-based senses, to beneficially alter the way they process information.
But while TCT has proven effective for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia under carefully controlled conditions, it remains unclear whether the approach might benefit patients with chronic, refractory schizophrenia treated in non-academic settings, such as those cared for in locked residential rehabilitation centers.
In a study published in the December print issue of Schizophrenia Research, senior author Gregory A. Light, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at Veterans Affaris San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues investigated whether TCT improved auditory and verbal outcomes among the most difficult of schizophrenia patients.
“Chronic, treatment-refractory patients mandated to locked residential care facilities make up just a small subgroup of persons with schizophrenia, but they consume a disproportionately large share of mental health care resources,” said Light. “Finding an effective therapy for them is critical.”
Light’s team studied 46 patients with schizophrenia psychosis recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization. All were deemed “gravely disabled,” unable to care for themselves, and under the guardianship of a private party or government agency. Participants were randomized to either standard treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU plus TCT, in which they used laptop computers to perform various learning and memory game exercises, often involving auditory cues.
The researchers found that among participants who completed the roughly three months of TAU-TCT treatment, verbal learning and auditory perception scores improved; and severity of auditory hallucinations lessened. Of note: The benefits were not negatively impacted by age, clinical symptoms, medication or illness duration. “Our results suggest that chronically ill, highly disabled patients can benefit from TCT,” said Light. “That contradicts current assumptions.”
Light cited some caveats. “We’re somewhere between the Wild West and golden age of cognitive training for schizophrenia patients. There is much still to be learned and done,” he said. Patients in this study represented some of the most difficult patients to treat, with therapy regimens that are highly complex. “We need to do a lot more research….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181207112759.htm

Citation:

Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia
Study participants improved auditory and verbal outcomes
Date: December 7, 2018
Source: University of California – San Diego
Summary:
Researchers find that patients with severe, refractory schizophrenia benefit from targeted cognitive therapy, improving auditory and verbal outcomes and the way they process information.
Journal Reference:
Michael L. Thomas, Andrew W. Bismark, Yash B. Joshi, Melissa Tarasenko, Emily B.H. Treichler, William C. Hochberger, Wen Zhang, John Nungaray, Joyce Sprock, Lauren Cardoso, Kristine Tiernan, Mouna Attarha, David L. Braff, Sophia Vinogradov, Neal Swerdlow, Gregory A. Light. Targeted cognitive training improves auditory and verbal outcomes among treatment refractory schizophrenia patients mandated to residential care. Schizophrenia Research, 2018; 202: 378 DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.07.025

Here is the press release from University of California San Diego:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 6-DEC-2018
Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia
Study participants improved auditory and verbal outcomes
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO
Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and working memory, which can be explained in part by abnormalities in early auditory information processing.
In recent years, targeted cognitive training (TCT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention. TCT uses computerized training, such as sophisticated brain games, to target specific neural pathways, such as memory, learning and auditory-based senses, to beneficially alter the way they process information.
But while TCT has proven effective for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia under carefully controlled conditions, it remains unclear whether the approach might benefit patients with chronic, refractory schizophrenia treated in non-academic settings, such as those cared for in locked residential rehabilitation centers.
In a study published in the December print issue of Schizophrenia Research, senior author Gregory A. Light, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at Veterans Affaris San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues investigated whether TCT improved auditory and verbal outcomes among the most difficult of schizophrenia patients.
“Chronic, treatment-refractory patients mandated to locked residential care facilities make up just a small subgroup of persons with schizophrenia, but they consume a disproportionately large share of mental health care resources,” said Light. “Finding an effective therapy for them is critical.”
Light’s team studied 46 patients with schizophrenia psychosis recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization. All were deemed “gravely disabled,” unable to care for themselves, and under the guardianship of a private party or government agency. Participants were randomized to either standard treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU plus TCT, in which they used laptop computers to perform various learning and memory game exercises, often involving auditory cues.
The researchers found that among participants who completed the roughly three months of TAU-TCT treatment, verbal learning and auditory perception scores improved; and severity of auditory hallucinations lessened. Of note: The benefits were not negatively impacted by age, clinical symptoms, medication or illness duration. “Our results suggest that chronically ill, highly disabled patients can benefit from TCT,” said Light. “That contradicts current assumptions.”
Light cited some caveats. “We’re somewhere between the Wild West and golden age of cognitive training for schizophrenia patients. There is much still to be learned and done,” he said. Patients in this study represented some of the most difficult patients to treat, with therapy regimens that are highly complex. “We need to do a lot more research.”
Light and others are doing so. In a recent paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology, for example, he and colleagues described the underlying mechanism involved in TCT to improve auditory function. And in past work, schizophrenia-and-auditory-cues.aspx Light and others have shown that deficiencies in the neural processing of simple auditory tones can evolve into a cascade of dysfunctional information processing in the brains of patients with schizophrenia.
###
This study was made available online in July 2018 ahead of peer-review and publication this month.
Co-authors include: Michael L. Thomas, Andrew W. Bismark, Yash B. Joshi, Melissa Tarasenko, Emily B.H. Treichler, William C. Hochberger, Joyce Sprock, David L. Braff and Neal Swerdlow, UC San Diego and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System; Wes Zhang, SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology; John Nungaray, UC San Diego; Lauren Cardoso, UC San Diego and Alpine Special Treatment Center; Mouna Attarha, Alpine Special Treatment Center; and Sophia Vinogradov, University of Minnesota.
Disclosures: Dr. Greg Light has been a consultant to Astellas, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Dart Neuroscience, Heptares, Lundbeck, Merck, NeuroSig, Neuroverse and Takeda. Dr. Mouna Attarha is a research scientist and stock holder at Posit Science Corporations, which developed the computerized brain training program used in the study.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Science Daily reported in Roots of schizophrenia: Excess of methionine during pregnancy?

An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, University of California, Irvine pharmacology researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The findings point to the role methionine overload can play during pregnancy and suggest that targeting the effects of this amino acid may lead to new antipsychotic drugs….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170816100305.htm

Citation:

Roots of schizophrenia: Excess of methionine during pregnancy?
Date: August 16, 2017
Source: University of California – Irvine
Summary:
An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, pharmacology researchers report.
Journal Reference:
1. A Alachkar, L Wang, R Yoshimura, A R Hamzeh, Z Wang, N Sanathara, S M Lee, X Xu, G W Abbott, O Civelli. Prenatal one-carbon metabolism dysregulation programs
schizophrenia-like deficits. Molecular Psychiatry, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.164

Here is the press release from UC Irvine:

Public Release: 15-Aug-2017
UCI study uncovers possible roots of schizophrenia
Excess of methionine during pregnancy alters prenatal brain development related to the psychiatric disease
University of California – Irvine
Irvine, Calif., Aug. 15, 2017 – An abundance of an amino acid called methionine, which is common in meat, cheese and beans, may provide new clues to the fetal brain development that can manifest in schizophrenia, University of California, Irvine pharmacology researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The findings point to the role methionine overload can play during pregnancy and suggest that targeting the effects of this amino acid may lead to new antipsychotic drugs.
The UCI study also provides detailed information on the neural developmental mechanisms of the methionine effect, which results in changes in the expression of several genes important to healthy brain growth and, in particular, to one linked to schizophrenia in humans.
Amal Alachkar and colleagues based their approach on studies from the 1960s and 1970s in which schizophrenic patients injected with methionine experienced worsened symptoms. Knowing that schizophrenia is a developmental disorder, the UCI team hypothesized that administering three times the normal daily input of methionine to pregnant mice may produce pups that have also schizophrenia-like deficits, which is what occurred.
The pups of the injected mothers displayed deficits in nine different tests encompassing the three schizophrenia-like symptoms behaviors – “positive” symptoms of overactivity and stereotypy, “negative” symptoms of human interaction deficits, and “cognitive impairments” memory loss.
The research team treated the mice with anti-schizophrenic drugs well used in therapy. A drug that in schizophrenics treats mostly the positive symptoms (haloperidol) did the same in the mice, and a drug that treat preferentially the negative symptoms and the cognitive impairments (clozapine) did the same.
Alachkar, an associate adjunct professor of pharmacology, said that the study is the first to present a mouse model based on methionine-influenced neural development that leads to schizophrenic-like behaviors.
“This mouse model provides much broader detail of biological processes of schizophrenia and thus reflect much better the disorder than in the animal models presently widely used in drug discovery,” said Olivier Civelli, chair and professor of pharmacology and an author on the paper.
“Our study also agrees with the saying, ‘we are what our mothers ate’,” Alachkar added. “Methionine is one of the building blocks of proteins. It is not synthesized by our bodies, and it needs to be ingested. Our study points at the very important role of excess dietary methionine during pregnancy in fetal development, which might have a long-lasting influence on the offspring. This is a very exciting area of research that we hope can be explored in greater depth.”
###
The study received support from the National Institutes of Health (DA024746), the UCI’s Center for Autism Research & Translation, the Eric L and Lila D Nelson Chair of Neuropharmacology, and the Institute of International Education.
Link to study: http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2017164a.html?foxtrotcallback=true
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
Media Contact
Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
@UCIrvine
http://www.uci.edu
University of California – Irvine
Journal
Molecular Psychiatry
Funder
National Institutes of Health
Original Source
http://www.som.uci.edu/news_releases/uc-irvine-study-finds-possible-roots-of-schizophrenia.asp

Related Journal Article
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2017

Learn more about prenatal and preconception care.
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/prenatal-care.aspx

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
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King’s College London study: Interpreting social cues in schizophrenia

3 Oct

Caralee J. Adams reported in the Education Week article, ‘Soft Skills’ Pushed as Part of College Readiness:

To make it in college, students need to be up for the academic rigor. But that’s not all. They also must be able to manage their own time, get along with roommates, and deal with setbacks. Resiliency and grit, along with the ability to communicate and advocate, are all crucial life skills. Yet, experts say, many teenagers lack them, and that’s hurting college-completion rates. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/14/12softskills_ep.h32.html?tkn=WQRFgl%2Bkfw2CUbzDpa48iaX0xbRF0HCUXIpI&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

Soft skills are skills associated with “emotional intelligence.”

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. have wrote the excellent article, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for HELPGUIDE.Org.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.
If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:

• Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
• Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
• Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
• Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important?
• As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence or IQ isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. IQ can help you get into college but it’s EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions of sitting your final exams…. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

Whether one calls success traits “emotional intelligence” or “soft skills” is really not important. The traits associated are those more likely to result in a successful outcome for the individual.

Science Daily reported in Why do people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues?

A new study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London sheds light on why people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues in others, often leading to unpleasant paranoid and persecutory thoughts.

Insights from this research, published in Psychological Medicine, could help develop psychological interventions to assist people with schizophrenia to interpret social cues, which might also improve their symptoms.

The researchers studied the behaviour of 54 participants, including 29 people with schizophrenia, as they viewed the body position and gestures of an actor on a silent video clip. These included gestures such as putting a finger to the lips to indicate ‘be quiet’ or incidental movements such as scratching an eye.

They found that patients with schizophrenia are able to interpret meaningful gestures and incidental movements as accurately as healthy subjects. However, when the direction of the gestures was ambiguous (i.e. not obviously directed at or away from them), they were much more likely to misinterpret the gestures as being directed towards them.
According to the researchers, this could indicate an increased tendency to self-infer these ambiguous social cues or to ‘hyper-mentalise’, whereby intent is falsely inferred from the actions of others. Both of these misinterpretations could underpin the incidence of paranoid thought experienced by patients with schizophrenia, suggest the study authors. The patients’ confidence in their interpretation was found to be strongly associated with their propensity to experience hallucinatory symptoms….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150930110445.htm

Citation:

Why do people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues?
Date: September 30, 2015

Source: King’s College London

Summary:
A new study sheds light on why people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues in others, often leading to unpleasant paranoid and persecutory thoughts. The study could help develop psychological interventions to assist people with schizophrenia to interpret social cues, which might also improve their symptoms.

Journal Reference:
1. T. P. White, F. Borgan, O. Ralley, S. S. Shergill. You looking at me?: Interpreting social cues in schizophrenia. Psychological Medicine, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291715001622

Here is the press release from King’s College London:

Why do people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues?

Posted on 30/09/2015

A new study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London sheds light on why people with schizophrenia misinterpret social cues in others, often leading to unpleasant paranoid and persecutory thoughts.

Insights from this research, published in Psychological Medicine, could help develop psychological interventions to assist people with schizophrenia to interpret social cues, which might also improve their symptoms.

The researchers studied the behaviour of 54 participants, including 29 people with schizophrenia, as they viewed the body position and gestures of an actor on a silent video clip. These included gestures such as putting a finger to the lips to indicate ‘be quiet’ or incidental movements such as scratching an eye.

They found that patients with schizophrenia are able to interpret meaningful gestures and incidental movements as accurately as healthy subjects. However, when the direction of the gestures was ambiguous (i.e. not obviously directed at or away from them), they were much more likely to misinterpret the gestures as being directed towards them.

According to the researchers, this could indicate an increased tendency to self-infer these ambiguous social cues or to ‘hyper-mentalise’, whereby intent is falsely inferred from the actions of others. Both of these misinterpretations could underpin the incidence of paranoid thought experienced by patients with schizophrenia, suggest the study authors. The patients’ confidence in their interpretation was found to be strongly associated with their propensity to experience hallucinatory symptoms.

Professor Sukhi Shergill from the Department of Psychosis Studies, said: ‘Humans are social beings, often finding joy in interacting with others. While most attention is on talking with each other, non-verbal behaviour such as gestures, body movement and facial expression also play a very important role in conveying the message.
‘However, the message being conveyed is not always clear, or perceived as a positive one, and an extreme example is evident in patients suffering from schizophrenia who show a strong tendency to misinterpret the intentions of other people in a malevolent manner.

‘Our study offers a basis for psychological interventions aimed at improving gestural interpretation. It could also provide guidance for health professionals and carers on how to communicate with patients who have schizophrenia, in order to reduce misinterpretations of non-verbal behaviour.’

Professor Shergill added: ‘The recent advent of adaptable virtual-reality technology provides a means of investigating the psychological effects of gestural communication with greater flexibility, which may prove a boon for our future understanding of social deficits in schizophrenia.’

Example gestural video-clips in the left column and example incidental movements in the right column. Movements were performed towards (top row), ambiguously (middle row) or perpendicularly (away; bottom row) in relation to the viewer.

Notes to editors

White, T. P. et al (2015) You looking at me?: Interpreting social cues in schizophrenia, Psychological Medicine, doi:10.1017/S0033291715001622
For further media information please contact Jack Stonebridge, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London on +44 (0) 20 7848 5377 or jack.stonebridge@kcl.ac.uk.
For further information about King’s visit our ‘King’s in Brief’ page.
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/news/records/2015/September/Why-do-people-with-schizophrenia-misinterpret-social-cues-.aspx

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:

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

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/battling-teen-addiction-recovery-high-schools/

Resources:

1. About.Com’s Depression In Young Children http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm

2. Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm

3. Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=106034

4. Family Doctor’s What Is Depression? http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/depression.html

5. WebMD’s Depression In Children http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children

6. Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?
http://www.healthline.com/hlvideo-5min/how-to-help-your-child-through-depression-517095449

7. Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children http://www.onhealth.com/depression_in_children/article.htm

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.

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

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Father’s age may be linked to Autism and Schizophrenia

26 Aug

In Autism and children of color, moi said:

The number of children with autism appears to be growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics on the number of children with autism in the section Data and Statistics:

Prevalence

  • It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD. [Read article]
  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.  However, we need more information on some less studied populations and regions around the world. [Read article]
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an approximate prevalence of 0.6% to over 1%. A recent study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table ]
  • Approximately 13% of children have a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.  [Read article] http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

In order for children with autism to reach their full potential there must be early diagnosis and treatment.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an autism fact sheet:

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).  Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.  Experts estimate that six children out of every 1,000 will have an ASD.  Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.

What are some common signs of autism?

The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction.  As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time.  A child with ASD may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.

Children with an ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.  They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.  They lack empathy.

Many children with an ASD engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging.  They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.”  Children with an ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children.  Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.

Children with characteristics of an ASD may have co-occurring conditions, including Fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation), tuberous sclerosis, epileptic seizures, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorder.  About 20 to 30 percent of children with an ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. .

How is autism diagnosed?

ASD varies widely in severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating handicaps.  Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:

  • no babbling or pointing by age 1
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness.

Later indicators include:

  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals.

Health care providers will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behavior.  Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations, while others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations.  If screening instruments indicate the possibility of an ASD, a more comprehensive evaluation is usually indicated….

What causes autism?

Scientists aren’t certain about what causes ASD, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role.  Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder.  Studies of people with ASD have found irregularities in several regions of the brain.  Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain.  These abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function.  While these findings are intriguing, they are preliminary and require further study.  The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved….https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/autism-and-children-of-color/

Scientists are researching risk factors for autism.

Benedict Carey reports in the New York Times article, Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia:

Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, scientists reported on Wednesday, in the first study to quantify the effect as it builds each year. The age of mothers had no bearing on the risk for these disorders, the study found.

Experts said that the finding was hardly reason to forgo fatherhood later in life, though it might have some influence on reproductive decisions. The overall risk to a man in his 40s or older is in the range of 2 percent, at most, and there are other contributing biological factors that are entirely unknown.

But the study, published online in the journal Nature, provides support for the argument that the surging rate of autism diagnoses over recent decades is attributable in part to the increasing average age of fathers, which could account for as many as 20 to 30 percent of cases.

The findings also counter the longstanding assumption that the age of the mother is the most important factor in determining the odds of a child having developmental problems. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, increases for older mothers, but when it comes to some complex developmental and psychiatric problems, the lion’s share of the genetic risk originates in the sperm, not the egg, the study found. Previous studies had strongly suggested as much, including an analysis published in April that found that this risk was higher at age 35 than 25 and crept up with age. The new report quantifies that risk for the first time, calculating how much it accumulates each year.

The research team found that the average child born to a 20-year-old father had 25 random mutations that could be traced to paternal genetic material. The number increased steadily by two mutations a year, reaching 65 mutations for offspring of 40-year-old men.

The average number of mutations coming from the mother’s side was 15, no matter her age, the study found.

“This study provides some of the first solid scientific evidence for a true increase in the condition” of autism, said Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. “It is extremely well done and the sample meticulously characterized.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/health/fathers-age-is-linked-to-risk-of-autism-and-schizophrenia.html?emc=eta1

Citation:

Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father’s age to disease risk

Journal name: Nature

Volume: 488,

Pages: 471–475

Date published: (23 August 2012)

DOI: doi:10.1038/nature11396

Received 28 February 2012  Accepted 04 July 2012 Published online 22 August 2012

Abstract

Article tools

Parents must pay attention to whether their children are developing within the parameters of what is appropriate for the child’s age.

Resources:

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:

BRAIN
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352-9424
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

Association for Science in Autism Treatment
P.O. Box 188
Crosswicks, NJ   08515-0188
info@asatonline.org
http://www.asatonline.org
Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)
P.O. Box 429
Forest Knolls, CA   94933
http://www.autcom.org
Autism Network International (ANI)
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY   13235-5448
jisincla@syr.edu
http://www.ani.ac
Autism Research Institute (ARI)
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA   92116
director@autism.com
http://www.autismresearchinstitute.com
Tel: 866-366-3361
Fax: 619-563-6840
Autism Science Foundation
419 Lafayette Street
2nd floor
New York, NY   10003
contactus@autismsciencefoundation.org
http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/
Tel: 646-723-3978
Fax: 212-228-3557
Autism Society of America
4340 East-West Highway
Suite 350
Bethesda, MD   20814
http://www.autism-society.org
Tel: 301-657-0881 800-3AUTISM (328-8476)
Fax: 301-657-0869
Autism Speaks, Inc.
2 Park Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY   10016
contactus@autismspeaks.org
http://www.autismspeaks.org
Tel: 212-252-8584 California: 310-230-3568
Fax: 212-252-8676
Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
976 Lake Baldwin Lane
Suite 104
Orlando, FL   32814
betty@birthdefects.org
http://www.birthdefects.org
Tel: 407-895-0802
MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN   46308
info@aspergersyndrome.org
http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/
Tel: 219-662-1311
Fax: 219-662-1315
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC   20009
nichcy@aed.org
http://www.nichcy.org
Tel: 800-695-0285 202-884-8200
Fax: 202-884-8441
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 2A32 MSC 2425
Bethesda, MD   20892-2425
http://www.nichd.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-5133
Fax: 301-496-7101
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD   20892-3456
nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Tel: 800-241-1044 800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC   27709
webcenter@niehs.nih.gov
http://www.niehs.nih.gov
Tel: 919-541-3345
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD   20892-9663
nimhinfo@nih.gov
http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Tel: 301-443-4513/866-415-8051 301-443-8431 (TTY)
Fax: 301-443-4279

“Autism Fact Sheet,” NINDS. Publication date September 2009.

NIH Publication No. 09-1877

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©