Tag Archives: Stress

Dartmouth College study: Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth

15 Apr

Moi reported about the effect stress has on genes in Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes https://drwilda.com/2014/04/08/penn-state-study-stress-alters-childrens-genomes/ A Tulane Medical School study finds that family violence or trauma alters a child’s genomes.

Science Daily reported in the article, Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events….
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617102505.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/stress/

Science Daily reported in Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth:

Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new Dartmouth-led study published in Scientific Reports. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.
Through a meta-analysis of 114 results from a total of 39 observational and experimental studies across 14 vertebrate species, including birds, snakes, sheep and humans, the study examines the impact of prenatal exposure to maternal stress on offspring. The researchers analyzed the role of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis, the stress physiological system that is shared across all vertebrates, which ultimately, results in the production of stress hormones known as “glucocorticoids.” The HPA-axis is the hormonal system responsible for mobilizing an animal’s stress response. Offspring exposed prenatally to maternal stress were found to have more stress hormone levels (glucocorticoids) after birth. This could reflect a biological adaptation with an evolutionary history, as more stress hormones could increase an animal’s chances for survival in a stressful environment.
In the present study, the researchers tested the strength of the effect of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels across a range of characteristics. Remarkably, the effects of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormones were consistent across species, regardless of evolutionary relationships or factors, such as brain or body size. There were also no differences when considering offspring sex, age of the offspring at the time of assessment, or the timing of the stressor exposure prenatally or its severity.
Only two factors influenced the size of the effect. Experimental studies had a stronger effect than observational studies. In addition, studies that measured glucocorticoid recovery showed a greater association with prenatal stress than was observed at baseline or during peak glucocorticoid response….
An animal’s stress response tends to be activated by external factors, such as when its see a predator or whether food is availabile. Higher stress hormone levels among offspring may help extend survival but come at a cost and may affect other physiological systems, such as reproduction. In humans, the mere anticipation of stress or just thinking about prior experiences of discrimination or trauma can activate a stress response. Overactive stress hormones can lead to chronic health problems in humans, including anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.
One of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at how maternal stress hormones in pregnant snow hares changed in relation to the abundance of their natural predators, lynxes, over a 10-year cycle. The research team found that in years where there were more lynxes, snow hare offspring had more stress hormones and anti-predator behaviors….’’ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180410161135.htm

Citation:

Humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth
Date: April 10, 2018
Source: Dartmouth College
Summary:
Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new study. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.

Journal Reference:
1. Zaneta M. Thayer, Meredith A. Wilson, Andrew W. Kim, Adrian V. Jaeggi. Impact of prenatal stress on offspring glucocorticoid levels: A phylogenetic meta-analysis across 14 vertebrate species. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23169-w

Here is the press release from Dartmouth College:

Public Release: 10-Apr-2018
Study finds humans and others exposed to prenatal stress have high stress levels after birth
Dartmouth College
Vertebrate species, including humans, exposed to stress prenatally tend to have higher stress hormones after birth, according to a new Dartmouth-led study published in Scientific Reports. While previous research has reported examples of maternal stress experience predicting offspring stress hormones in different species, this study is the first to empirically demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels using data from all known studies across vertebrates.
Through a meta-analysis of 114 results from a total of 39 observational and experimental studies across 14 vertebrate species, including birds, snakes, sheep and humans, the study examines the impact of prenatal exposure to maternal stress on offspring. The researchers analyzed the role of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis, the stress physiological system that is shared across all vertebrates, which ultimately, results in the production of stress hormones known as “glucocorticoids.” The HPA-axis is the hormonal system responsible for mobilizing an animal’s stress response. Offspring exposed prenatally to maternal stress were found to have more stress hormone levels (glucocorticoids) after birth. This could reflect a biological adaptation with an evolutionary history, as more stress hormones could increase an animal’s chances for survival in a stressful environment.
In the present study, the researchers tested the strength of the effect of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormone levels across a range of characteristics. Remarkably, the effects of prenatal stress on offspring stress hormones were consistent across species, regardless of evolutionary relationships or factors, such as brain or body size. There were also no differences when considering offspring sex, age of the offspring at the time of assessment, or the timing of the stressor exposure prenatally or its severity.
Only two factors influenced the size of the effect. Experimental studies had a stronger effect than observational studies. In addition, studies that measured glucocorticoid recovery showed a greater association with prenatal stress than was observed at baseline or during peak glucocorticoid response.
“Animals, including humans, modify their stress hormones in response to their environment. Your stress response is set like a thermostat– your body can amp up or down stress hormones in response to anticipated environmental conditions,” explains lead author Zaneta Thayer, an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth.
An animal’s stress response tends to be activated by external factors, such as when its see a predator or whether food is availabile. Higher stress hormone levels among offspring may help extend survival but come at a cost and may affect other physiological systems, such as reproduction. In humans, the mere anticipation of stress or just thinking about prior experiences of discrimination or trauma can activate a stress response. Overactive stress hormones can lead to chronic health problems in humans, including anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.
One of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at how maternal stress hormones in pregnant snow hares changed in relation to the abundance of their natural predators, lynxes, over a 10-year cycle. The research team found that in years where there were more lynxes, snow hare offspring had more stress hormones and anti-predator behaviors.
“Our stress response is meant to be adaptive to acute stress, such as being chased by predators. However, humans’ stress response is often triggered by social evaluative threats and is not serving the adaptive purpose that it was designed for,” added Thayer. “This research confirms what other scientists have long speculated that there are trends across species when it comes to linking prenatal stress and offspring hormonal stress responses.”
Prior work co-authored by Thayer has explored early origins of humans’ health disparities and the impacts of maternal stress during pregnancy on offspring’s postnatal stress hormone levels.
###
Thayer is available for comment at: Zaneta.Marie.Thayer@dartmouth.edu.
Meredith A. Wilson at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Andrew W. Kim at Northwestern University and Adrian V. Jaeggi at Emory University, also served as co-authors of 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.
https://sciencesources.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/dc-sfh041018.php

Here is information about the Adverse Child Experiences Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study. http://acestudy.org/
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/study-some-of-the-effects-of-adverse-stress-do-not-go-away/

Science Daily reported in Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten — a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.
“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions…”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160718111939.htm

Citation:

Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development
Date: July 18, 2016
Source: New York University
Summary:
A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life.

Journal Reference:
1. Alessio Travaglia, Reto Bisaz, Eric S Sweet, Robert D Blitzer, Cristina M Alberini. Infantile amnesia reflects a developmental critical period for hippocampal learning. Nature Neuroscience, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nn.4348

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

The Effects of Stress on Your Body
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress
http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/all/1/

Chronic Stress: The Body Connection
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53737

Understanding Stress Symptoms, Signs, Causes, and Effects
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

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 ©
https://drwilda.com/

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Michigan State University study: Discrimination harms your health and your partner’s health

10 Dec

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) list the following types of discrimination:

Discrimination by Type
Learn about the various types of discrimination prohibited by the laws enforced by EEOC. We also provide links to the relevant laws, regulations and policy guidance, and also fact sheets, Q&As, best practices, and other information.
• Age
• Disability
• Equal Pay/Compensation
• Genetic Information
• Harassment
• National Origin
• Pregnancy
• Race/Color
• Religion
• Retaliation
• Sex
• Sexual Harassment
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/

The EEOC describes the following types of laws:

Laws & Guidance
Federal Laws prohibit workplace discrimination and are enforced by EEOC. These are passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Regulations implement federal workplace discrimination laws. They are voted on by the Commission after the public has a formal opportunity to provide comments to EEOC. Find our current regulations, read and comment on proposed regulations, and see our regulatory agenda at the link above.
EEOC Subregulatory Guidance expresses official agency policy and explains how the laws and regulations apply to specific workplace situations. EEOC seeks and obtains input from the public in a variety of ways for these documents before they are voted on by the Commission.
Commission Decisions concern a specific charge of discrimination where the Commission votes to express official agency policy to be applied in similar cases by EEOC. They should not be confused with EEOC’s federal sector appellate decisions in federal employee complaints of discrimination.
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) explain how two or more agencies will cooperate and interact when their enforcement responsibilities overlap. MOUs involving other federal agencies must be approved by a majority of the Commissioners. EEOC also enters into MOUs with foreign embassies and consulates to enhance cooperation on matters involving employment discrimination.
EEOC Resource Documents assist the public in understanding existing EEOC positions. Since they do not create new policy, they are not voted on by the Commission.
Workplace Laws Not Enforced by the EEOC
Federal laws prohibiting discrimination or regulating workplace issues that are not enforced by the EEOC. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/index.cfm
Findlaw describes discrimination.
According to Findlaw discrimination is:
Lawful vs. Unlawful Discrimination
Not all types of discrimination will violate federal and/or state laws that prohibit discrimination. Some types of unequal treatment are perfectly legal, and cannot form the basis for a civil rights case alleging discrimination. The examples below illustrate the difference between lawful and unlawful discrimination.
Example 1: Applicant 1, an owner of two dogs, fills out an application to lease an apartment from Landlord. Upon learning that Applicant 1 is a dog owner, Landlord refuses to lease the apartment to her, because he does not want dogs in his building. Here, Landlord has not committed a civil rights violation by discriminating against Applicant 1 based solely on her status as a pet owner. Landlord is free to reject apartment applicants who own pets.
Example 2: Applicant 2, an African American man, fills out an application to lease an apartment from Landlord. Upon learning that Applicant 2 is an African American, Landlord refuses to lease the apartment to him, because he prefers to have Caucasian tenants in his building. Here, Landlord has committed a civil rights violation by discriminating against Applicant 2 based solely on his race. Under federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws, Landlord may not reject apartment applicants because of their race.
Where Can Discrimination Occur?
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against members of protected groups (identified above) in a number of settings, including:
• Education
• Employment
• Housing
• Government benefits and services
• Health care services
• Land use / zoning
• Lending and credit
• Public accommodations (Access to buildings and businesses)
• Transportation
• Voting
Anti-Discrimination Laws
Most laws prohibiting discrimination, and many legal definitions of “discriminatory” acts, originated at the federal level through either:
• Federal legislation, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• Other federal acts (supplemented by court decisions) prohibit discrimination in voting rights, housing, extension of credit, public education, and access to public facilities.
OR
• Federal court decisions, like the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which was the impetus for nationwide racial desegregation of public schools. Other Supreme Court cases have shaped the definition of discriminatory acts like sexual harassment, and the legality of anti-discrimination remedies such as affirmative action programs.
Today, most states have anti-discrimination laws of their own which mirror those at the federal level. For example, in the state of Texas, Title 2 Chapter 21 of the Labor Code prohibits employment discrimination. Many of the mandates in this Texas law are based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law making employment discrimination unlawful…. http://civilrights.findlaw.com/civil-rights-overview/what-is-discrimination.html

A Michigan State University study reported that discrimination harms both the victim and the victim’s partner.

Science Daily reported in Discrimination harms your health and your partner’s health:

Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.
The work, which analyzed a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health. The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that’s not the full story — this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well,” said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology who conducted the study with current and former MSU students.
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94. Survey participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.
Chopik said the study found that it didn’t matter where the discrimination came from (e.g., because of race, age, gender or other factors). “What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That’s what had the biggest impact on the person’s health.”
And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person’s spouse or partner. Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171207154506.htm

Citation:

Discrimination harms your health, and your partner’s, study shows
Date: December 7, 2017
Source: Michigan State University
Summary:
Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research.

Here is the press release from Michigan State University:

Published: Dec. 7, 2017
Discrimination harms your health – and your partner’s
Contact(s): William Chopik , Andy Henion
Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.
The work, which analyzed a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health. The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that’s not the full story – this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well,” said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology who conducted the study with current and former MSU students.
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94. Survey participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.
Chopik said the study found that it didn’t matter where the discrimination came from (e.g., because of race, age, gender or other factors). “What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That’s what had the biggest impact on the person’s health.”
And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person’s spouse or partner. Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said.
“We found that a lot of the harmful effects of discrimination on health occurs because it’s so damaging to our relationships,” he said. “When one partner experiences discrimination, they bring that stress home with them and it strains the relationship. So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner’s as well.” http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/discrimination-harms-your-health-and-your-partners/

Discrimination harms relationships and produces toxic environments.

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World. https://tanenbaum.org/tanenbaum-resources/the-golden-rule/ At the core of all bullying is a failure to recognize another’s humanity and a basic lack of respect for life. At the core of the demand for personal expression and failure to tolerate opinions which are not like one’s own is a self-centeredness which can destroy the very society it claims to want to protect.

Resources:

Examples of discrimination in society today https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/individuals-and-society/discrimination/a/examples-of-discrimination-in-society-today

The impact of prejudice on society http://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/crime_courts/article_a86ea0dc-270a-11e3-ad90-0019bb30f31a.html

The Effects of Racial, Sexual or Religious Discrimination https://lawlex.org/lex-bulletin/the-effects-of-racial-sexual-or-religious-discrimination/8682

Is discrimination wrong? http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-discrimination-wrong

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 ©
https://drwilda.com/

New York University study: Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development

19 Jul

Prolonged stress can have adverse effects on humans. Moi wrote about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in Study: Some of the effects of adverse stress do not go away:

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity:

Research from Dr. Shonkoff’s center and from other experts finds that positive stress—the kind that comes from telling a toddler he can’t have a cookie or a teenager that she’s about to take a pop quiz—causes a brief rise in heart rate and stress hormones. A jolt can focus a student’s attention and is generally considered healthy.

Similarly, a child can tolerate stress that is severe but may be relatively short-term—from the death of a loved one, for example—as long as he or she has support….

‘Toxic’ Recipe

By contrast, so-called “toxic stress” is severe, sustained, and not buffered by supportive relationships.

The same brain flexibility, called plasticity, that makes children open to learning in their early years also makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from the toxic stressors that often accompany poverty: high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food instability; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse; and other problems, according to Pat Levitt, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Southern California and the director of the Keck School of Medicine Center on the Developing Child in Los Angeles…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/07/11poverty_ep.h32.html?tkn=QLYF5qldyT3U0BI0xqtD5885mihZIxwbX4qZ&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is information about the Adverse Child Experiences Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study. http://acestudy.org/

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

Science Daily reported in Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten — a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.

“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions…”

In their study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers examined the mechanisms of infantile memory in rats — i.e., memories created 17 days after birth. This is the equivalent of humans under the age of three and when memories of who, what, when, and where — known as episodic memories — are rapidly forgotten. The phenomenon, referred as to “infantile or childhood amnesia,” is in fact the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories that took place during the first two to four years of life.

In addressing this matter, Alberini and her colleagues compared rats’ infantile memory with that when they reached 24 days old — that is, when they are capable of forming and retaining long-term memories and at an age that roughly corresponds to humans at six to nine years old.

The episodic memory tested in the rodents was the memory of an aversive experience: a mild foot shock received upon entering in a new place. Adult rats, like humans, remember unpleasant or painful experiences that they had in specific places, and then avoid returning to them.

To do so, rodents were placed in a box divided into two compartments: a “safe” compartment and a “shock” compartment. During the experiment, each rat was placed in the safe compartment with its head facing away from the door. After 10 seconds, the door separating the compartments was automatically opened, allowing the rat access to the shock compartment. If the rat entered the shock compartment, it received a mild foot shock.

The first set of results was not surprising. The authors found infantile amnesia for the 17 day-old rats, which showed avoidance of the “shock” compartment right after the experience, but lost this memory very rapidly: a day later these rats quickly returned to this compartment. In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place — revealing a memory similar to that of adult rats.

However, remarkably, the younger rats, which had apparently forgotten the initial experience, subsequently showed they actually had kept a trace of the memory. When, later in life, these rats were prompted with reminders — i.e., they were presented with recollections of the context and the foot shock — they indicated having a specific memory, which was revealed by their avoidance of the specific context in which they received a shock at day 17 of life. These findings show how early life experience, although not expressed or remembered, can influence adult life behavior.

The findings raised the following question: what is occurring — neurologically — that explains why memories are retained by the younger rats only in a latent form but are stored and expressed long-term by older ones? Or, more specifically, what occurs during development that enhances the ability to form lasting memories?

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term…                               https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160718111939.htm

Citation:

Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development

Date:         July 18, 2016

Source:      New York University

Summary:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life.

Journal Reference:

  1. Alessio Travaglia, Reto Bisaz, Eric S Sweet, Robert D Blitzer, Cristina M Alberini. Infantile amnesia reflects a developmental critical period for hippocampal learning. Nature Neuroscience, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nn.4348

Here is the press release from New York University:

Infantile Memory Study Points to Critical Periods in Early-Life Learning for Brain Development

July 18, 2016

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten—a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.

“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions.”

The other authors of the study, conducted in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, included: Alessio Travaglia, a post-doctoral researcher at NYU; Reto Bisaz, an NYU research scientist at the time of the study; Eric Sweet, a post-doctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; and Robert Blitzer, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai.

In their study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers examined the mechanisms of infantile memory in rats—i.e., memories created 17 days after birth. This is the equivalent of humans under the age of three and when memories of who, what, when, and where–known as episodic memories–are rapidly forgotten. The phenomenon, referred as to “infantile or childhood amnesia,” is in fact the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories that took place during the first two to four years of life.

In addressing this matter, Alberini and her colleagues compared rats’ infantile memory with that when they reached 24 days old—that is, when they are capable of forming and retaining long-term memories and at an age that roughly corresponds to humans at six to nine years old.

The episodic memory tested in the rodents was the memory of an aversive experience: a mild foot shock received upon entering in a new place. Adult rats, like humans, remember unpleasant or painful experiences that they had in specific places, and then avoid returning to them.

To do so, rodents were placed in a box divided into two compartments: a “safe” compartment and a “shock” compartment. During the experiment, each rat was placed in the safe compartment with its head facing away from the door. After 10 seconds, the door separating the compartments was automatically opened, allowing the rat access to the shock compartment. If the rat entered the shock compartment, it received a mild foot shock.

The first set of results was not surprising. The authors found infantile amnesia for the 17 day-old rats, which showed avoidance of the “shock” compartment right after the experience, but lost this memory very rapidly: a day later these rats quickly returned to this compartment. In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place—revealing a memory similar to that of adult rats.

However, remarkably, the younger rats, which had apparently forgotten the initial experience, subsequently showed they actually had kept a trace of the memory. When, later in life, these rats were prompted with reminders—i.e., they were presented with recollections of the context and the foot shock—they indicated having a specific memory, which was revealed by their avoidance of the specific context in which they received a shock at day 17 of life. These findings show how early life experience, although not expressed or remembered, can influence adult life behavior.

The findings raised the following question: what is occurring—neurologically—that explains why memories are retained by the younger rats only in a latent form but are stored and expressed long-term by older ones? Or, more specifically, what occurs during development that enhances the ability to form lasting memories?

To address this, the scientists focused on the brain’s hippocampus, which previous scholarship has shown is necessary for encoding new episodic memories. Here, in a series of experiments similar to the box tests, they found that if the hippocampus was inactive, the ability of younger rats to form latent memories and recall them later by reminders as they got older was diminished. They then found that mechanisms of “critical periods” are fundamental for establishing these infantile memories.

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term.

“Early in life, while the brain cannot efficiently form long-term memories, it is ‘learning’ how to do so, making it possible to establish the abilities to memorize long-term,” explains Alberini. “However, the brain needs stimulation through learning so that it can get in the practice of memory formation—without these experiences, the ability of the neurological system to learn will be impaired.”

These studies, the researchers observe, suggest that using learning and environmental interventions during a critical period may significantly help to address learning disabilities.

The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH074736, R01-NS072359), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Geneva-based Agalma Foundation.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Research, Arts and Science, Faculty

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

The Effects of Stress on Your Body                                                                       http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress                                                              http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/all/1/

Chronic Stress: The Body Connection                                                      http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53737

Understanding Stress Symptoms, Signs, Causes, and Effects                     http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

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 ©                                                                                                                https://drwilda.com/

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study: Stress felt by children shows up in their art

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.

Will Huntsberry of NPR wrote in the article, Kids’ Drawings Speak Volumes About Home:

When children reach 6 years old, their drawings matter.

Not because of those purple unicorns or pinstripe dragons but because of how kids sketch themselves and the very real people in their lives.

In a new study, researchers found that children who experienced chaos at home — including high levels of noise, excessive crowding, clutter and lack of structure — were more likely to draw themselves at a distance from their parents or much smaller in size relative to other figures.

In some cases, these kids drew themselves with drooping arms and indifferent or sad faces.

Their drawings were a reflection of this simple fact: Chaos at home meant parents were interacting with them less and, in many cases, the interactions that were happening were shorter and interrupted.

As a result, kids ended up with a depreciated sense of self, says Roger Mills-Koonce, who led the study with Bharathi Zvara at UNC-Chapel Hill. To be clear, Mills-Koonce did not blame parents or caretakers but called this kind of stress in the home a “function of poverty….”                                                                                                                                http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/12/08/368693069/kids-drawings-speak-volumes-about-home

Citation:

The Mediating Role of Parenting in the Associations Between Household Chaos and Children’s Representations of Family Dysfunction

Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors

2014

From the abstract: “Children’s drawings are thought to reflect their mental representations of self and their interpersonal relations within families. Household chaos is believed to disrupt key proximal processes related to optimal development. The present study examines the mediating role of parenting behaviors in the relations between two measures of household chaos, instability and disorganization, and how they may be evidenced in children’s representations of family dysfunction as derived from their drawings. The sample (N = 962) is from a longitudinal study of rural poverty exploring the ways in which child, family, and contextual factors shape development over time. Findings reveal that, after controlling for numerous factors including child and primary caregiver covariates, there were significant indirect effects from cumulative family disorganization, but not cumulative family instability, on children’s representation of family dysfunction through parenting behaviors. Results suggest that the proximal effects of daily disorganization outweigh the effects of periodic instability overtime.”

Related Project(s):

Children Living in Rural Poverty: The Continuation of the Family Life Project
Family Life Project

Available here: Attachment & Human Development

Or, you may utilize your local academic library to locate this copyrighted material.

Citation: Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors. (2014). The mediating role of parenting in the associations between household chaos and children’s representations of family dysfunction. Attachment & Human Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

http://fpg.unc.edu/resources/mediating-role-parenting-associations-between-household-chaos-and-childrens-representation

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/

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

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Tulane University Medical School study: Family violence affects the DNA of children

17 Jun

Moi reported about the effect stress has on genes in Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes https://drwilda.com/2014/04/08/penn-state-study-stress-alters-childrens-genomes/ A Tulane Medical School study finds that family violence or trauma alters a child’s genomes.

Science Daily reported in the article, Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events….
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617102505.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

Citation:

Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children
Date: June 17, 2014
Source: Tulane University
Summary:
Children in homes affected by violence, suicide, or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres -— a cellular marker of aging — than those in stable households. The study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children.
Journal Reference:
1. S. S. Drury, E. Mabile, Z. H. Brett, K. Esteves, E. Jones, E. A. Shirtcliff, K. P. Theall. The Association of Telomere Length With Family Violence and Disruption. PEDIATRICS, 2014; 134 (1): e128 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3415

Here is the press release from Tulane University:

Study: Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children
June 16, 2014
Keith Brannon
Phone: 504-862-8789

kbrannon@tulane.edu
A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events.
“Family-level stressors, such as witnessing a family member get hurt, created an environment that affected the DNA within the cells of the children,” said lead author Dr. Stacy Drury, director of the Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Laboratory at Tulane. “The greater the number of exposures these kids had in life, the shorter their telomeres were – and this was after controlling for many other factors, including socioeconomic status, maternal education, parental age and the child’s age.”
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said.

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 © https://drwilda.com/

‘Peer Counseling’ in schools

28 Apr

Moi wrote about a high school support program in Helping troubled children: The ‘Reconnecting Youth Program’:
Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children:

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.
The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.
Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.
Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play….
Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.
Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/school-psychologists-shortage-amid-increased-need/2012/02/26/gIQAU7psdR_blog.html

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/ In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Rebecca Jones of Ed News Colorado wrote about the Reconnecting Youth Program in the article, Reconnecting Youth program boosts teens.
http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/10/30/51106-reconnecting-youth-program-boosts-teens https://drwilda.com/2012/10/30/helping-troubled-children-the-reconnecting-youth-program/
Another model many schools are trying is peer counseling.

Evie Blad reported in the Education Week article, Schools Explore Benefits of Peer Counseling about peer counseling:

Schools in Baltimore, New York City, New Jersey, and North Carolina have used the program—created by the Princeton, N.J.-based Center for Supportive Schools—to boost attendance, academic persistence, and graduation rates.
At a time when schools are increasingly recognizing the important role social and emotional factors can play in academic success, leaders are wasting a valuable resource if they don’t enlist energetic students to help their peers, said Daniel F. Oscar, the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Supportive Schools.
“It becomes a very positive feedback loop where, by the act of helping the school out, that older student is in fact deepening his or her own education,” Mr. Oscar said. “Leadership is increasingly something that we don’t only expect from the person who has the top title in an organization. It’s something we expect from everyone.”
A study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. published in the Journal of Educational Research found that Peer Group Connection had notable success raising graduation rates for Latino males.
Promising Signs
In a randomized control study, researchers tracked four-year graduation rates for 268 participating students at a high-poverty, mid-Atlantic, urban high school that is not named in the study. Of the program’s participants, 77 percent graduated high school in four years, compared with 68 percent of their nonparticipating peers. Latino males in the experimental group had an 81 percent graduation rate, compared to 63 percent in the control group.
Peer Group Connection is more successful than some other peer-mentoring efforts because it is integrated into the school day, incorporates several meetings with students’ families to reinforce lessons and supports, and requires buy-in from principals and teachers before a school implements the program, the researchers wrote.
The program employs a “train the trainer” model under which juniors and seniors complete a yearlong, credit-bearing leadership course where they practice group exercises and discussions. Older students also meet once a week with younger students to complete the exercises they practiced in class.
The class is led by teachers who received extensive training on the program, primarily through an 11-day course and a retreat with Center for Supportive Schools staff.
That training helps prepare teachers for a level of honesty they might not typically experience with students, said Sherry Barr, the vice president of the organization.
“When they go through it themselves and experience what it means to them to break down some of those barriers, that’s a very powerful experience,” Ms. Barr said. “They sort of leave transformed in the sense that they really want to have that experience with their students.”
As those teachers work with peer mentors in training, those discussions—often centered on experiences that can form hurdles for school completion and persistence—can be emotional.
On an April afternoon in Baltimore, peer leaders at the Academy for College and Career Exploration practiced how they would react to various text messages from peers, including nude photos and an angry message from a friend. Would they forward the photos to others? Would they respond to anger with anger?
“Keep it real,” teacher Candice Boone told senior Jada Davis, urging her to avoid simply telling adults in the room what she thought they’d want to hear about how she would respond to the hypothetical angry text message.
“You know I am,” Ms. Davis said, admitting that she “most likely would be going back and forth” with her friend if she got such a message.
Students also discussed the way girls are bullied and teased if they send a nude photo to a boyfriend, only to have it circulating on social media the next day. It’s a side of students teachers don’t always see, Ms. Boone said…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29peerconnection.h33.html

The Center for Supportive Schools is one of the primary providers of training for peer counselors.

Here is what the Center for Supportive Schools says about Peer Counseling.

Peer Group Connection (PGC)
Through Peer Group Connection (PGC), CSS trains school faculty to teach leadership courses to select groups of older students, who in turn educate and support younger students. Our goal is to help schools enable and inspire young people to become engaged leaders who positively influence their peers. The CSS peer-to-peer student leadership model taps into schools’ most underutilized resources – students – and enlists them in strengthening the educational offerings of a school while simultaneously advancing their own learning, growth, and development.
Transition to High School
High School Juniors and Seniors Supporting Freshmen in Their Transition to High School
Peer Group Connection (PGC) for High Schools is an evidence-based program that supports and eases students’ successful transition from middle to high school. The program taps into the power of high school juniors and seniors to create a nurturing environment for incoming freshmen. Once per week, pairs of junior and senior peer leaders meet with groups of 10-14 freshmen in outreach sessions designed to strengthen relationships among students across grades. These peer leaders are simultaneously enrolled in a daily, for-credit, year-long leadership course taught by school faculty during regular school hours. PGC is CSS’s seminal peer leadership program, and has been implemented with a 70% sustainability rate in more than 175 high schools since 1979. A recently released, four-year longitudinal, randomized-control study conducted by Rutgers University and funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that, among other major results, PGC improves the graduation rates of student participants in an inner city public school by ten percentage points and cuts by half the number of male students who would otherwise drop out.
http://supportiveschools.org/solutions/peer-group-connection/

Not all are supportive of peer counseling.

Andrew S. Latham wrote in the 1997 Education Leadership article, Research Link / Peer Counseling Proceed with Caution:

One of Lewis and Lewis’s concerns is that students serving as peer counselors are increasingly being asked to shoulder a burden that should be overseen only by trained, seasoned professionals. In a sobering study, the two researchers compared suicide rates among schools with no peer-led suicide-prevention program; schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a noncounselor (for example, a teacher or building administrator); and schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a certified counselor, psychologist, or social worker. Shockingly, the 38 schools with the noncounselor-led peer programs had the highest ratio of student suicides: Between 1991 and 1993, 11 of those 38 schools (29 percent) reported at least one suicide, as opposed to 7 of 55 schools (13 percent) with no prevention program at all, and just 5 of 65 schools (8 percent) with a counselor-led peer program….
Although Lewis and Lewis focus on suicide-prevention programs, we can extend this argument to other health and safety issues teens face, such as AIDS and drug and alcohol abuse. As teens confront the problems of the 1990s, they want concrete advice, not just an empathetic listener. Morey and colleagues (1993) confirmed this fact when they used a stepwise regression to identify factors that contribute to students’ satisfaction with peer counseling. Two such factors were “empathy and problem identification” and “empathy and problem solving,” indicating that students want help from peers who are willing to listen and understand their problems, and who can suggest ways to address those problems.
Professional Support Is Critical
These studies point to the need for students to receive extensive training and professional support both before and throughout their work with their peers. If such support is given, peer programs have tremendous potential.
A case in point: O’Hara and colleagues (1996) studied the effects of a student-led AIDS prevention program in an alternative school for at-risk youth. Following an initial interview, the peer counselors were trained over the course of eight weeks, including five classroom sessions, two retreats, and a trip to a local clinic for sexually transmitted diseases. Peer counselors with attendance problems were dropped from the program. Those who successfully completed the program then conducted two carefully structured large-group sessions with their peers, followed by two small-group sessions and various schoolwide activities. The results were impressive: pre- and post-intervention student surveys revealed that the number of students who intended to use condoms each time they had sex rose from 55 to 65 percent, while those reporting they had never used a condom dropped from 15 to 4 percent.
The lesson from these examples is that peer-led programs must be adopted carefully, particularly when dealing with the high-stakes problems that many teenagers face today. In fact, professional intervention may be preferable to peer support for potentially lethal issues, such as teen suicide…. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct97/vol55/num02/Peer-Counseling@-Proceed-with-Caution.aspx

For research on peer counseling programs, see http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/rh/counseffective.asp

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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/

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 © https://drwilda.com/

Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes

8 Apr

Moi said in Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children:
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

Schools are developing strategies to deal with troubled kids.

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.
When researchers examined the DNA of 40 boys from major US cities at age 9, they found that the telomeres of children from harsh home environments were 19% shorter than those of children from advantaged backgrounds. The length of telomeres is often considered to be a biomarker of chronic stress.
The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brings researchers closer to understanding how social conditions in childhood can influence long-term health, says Elissa Epel, a health psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the research.
Participants’ DNA samples and socio-economic data were collected as part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, an effort funded by the National Institutes of Health to track nearly 5,000 children, the majority of whom were born to unmarried parents in large US cities in 1998–2000. Children’s environments were rated on the basis of their mother’s level of education; the ratio of a family’s income to needs; harsh parenting; and whether family structure was stable, says lead author Daniel Notterman, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey.
The telomeres of boys whose mothers had a high-school diploma were 32% longer compared with those of boys whose mothers had not finished high school. Children who came from stable families had telomeres that were 40% longer than those of children who had experienced many changes in family structure, such as a parent with multiple partners.
Genetic links
The link between stressful home environments and telomere length is moderated by genetic variants in pathways that process two chemical transmitters in the brain, serotonin and dopamine, the study found. Previous studies have correlated variants in some of the genes studied, such as TPH2, with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental-health issues. Variants of another gene, 5-HTT, reduce the amount of the protein that recycles serotonin in nerve synapses. Some alleles of these genes are thought to increase the sensitivity of carriers to external risks…. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stress-alters-childrens-genomes/?WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

Citation:

Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children’s telomere length
1. Colter Mitchella,
2. John Hobcraftb,
3. Sara S. McLanahanc,1,
4. Susan Rutherford Siegeld,
5. Arthur Bergd,
6. Jeanne Brooks-Gunne,
7. Irwin Garfinkelf, and
8. Daniel Nottermand,g,1
Author Affiliations
Significance
This paper makes two contributions to research on the link between the social environment and health. Using data from a birth cohort study, we show that, among African American boys, those who grow up in highly disadvantaged environments have shorter telomeres (at age 9) than boys who grow up in highly advantaged environments. We also find that the association between the social environment and telomere length (TL) is moderated by genetic variation within the serotonin and dopamine pathways. Boys with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments. To our knowledge, this report is the first to document a gene–social environment interaction for TL, a biomarker of stress exposure.
Abstract
Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. We use data from 40, 9-y-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to extend this observation to African American children. We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic variants in serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. Consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis, subjects with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged social environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments.
gene–environment
adversity
senescence
Footnotes
↵1To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: dan1@princeton.edu or mclanaha@princeton.edu.
Author contributions: C.M., J.H., S.S.M., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. designed research; C.M., J.H., S.S.M., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. performed research; S.R.S. and D.N. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; C.M., J.H., S.S.M., A.B., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. analyzed data; and C.M. and D.N. wrote the paper.
Reviewers: T.E.S., Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; S.J.S., Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article contains supporting information online at http://www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1404293111/-/DCSupplemental.
Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

Here is the press release from Penn State:

Disadvantaged environments affect genetic material, study finds
By Scott Gilbert
April 8, 2014
HERSHEY, Pa. — Children experiencing chronic stress from a disadvantaged life have shorter telomeres than their advantaged peers, according to a study led by Dr. Daniel Notterman, vice dean for research and graduate studies, and professor of pediatrics, and biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State College of Medicine.
Telomeres are DNA sequences at the end of each chromosome that protect the ends of the chromosomes from damage. They vary in length per person and shrink as a person ages, a process that may be linked to health and disease.
The negative health effects of long-term chronic stress may be connected to the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres shorten faster in individuals experiencing chronic stress, such as that from living in a disadvantaged environment.
Notterman and colleagues studied genetic information from 40 9-year-old African-American boys.
Boys from disadvantaged environments had shorter telomeres than peers in the study who were not. In addition, the effect of environment on telomere length was mediated by genes involved with the function of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Neurotransmitters help transmit signals between brain cells and send information throughout the body.
For boys with genetic variants of dopamine or serotonin pathways that conferred greater sensitivity to environmental signals associated with stress, those from disadvantaged environments had the shortest telomeres, and those from advantaged environments had the longest.
The results suggest a link between genetic factors and social environment associated with changing telomere length and provides a biomarker for chronic stress exposure in children as young as 9, according to the authors.
Researchers also from Penn State College of Medicine are Arthur Berg, associate professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics, and Sue Siegel, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and was supported by the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute. For more information, visit PNAS’s Early Edition.
Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity:
The stress of a spelling bee or a challenging science project can enhance a student’s focus and promote learning. But the stress of a dysfunctional or unstable home life can poison a child’s cognitive ability for a lifetime, according to new research.
While educators and psychologists have said for decades that the effects of poverty interfere with students’ academic achievement, new evidence from cognitive and neuroscience is showing exactly how adversity in childhood damages students’ long-term learning and health….
Good experiences, like nurturing parents and rich early-child-care environments, help build and reinforce neural connections in areas such as language development and self-control, while adversity weakens those connections.
Over time, the connections, good or bad, stabilize, “and you can’t go back and rewire; you have to adapt,” Dr. Shonkoff said. “If you’ve built on strong foundations, that’s good, and if you have weak foundations, the brain has to work harder, and it costs more to the brain and society…”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study. http://acestudy.org/

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

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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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