Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mother love gives kids a head start?

Groan! More epidemiological naivety. Middle class mothers probably treat their kids better and also have higher IQs. And high IQ tends to go with bigger brain size. No effect of "mother love" is shown in this research at all

THE power of a mother's love is so great it can cause a child's brain to grow larger. Scientists found that love and nurturing in a child's first years can be measured in the size of the hippocampus, the brain's centre of learning.

That part of the brain, also linked to memory and dealing with stress, is up to 10 per cent larger in children raised in a loving environment.

Using MRI scans in a study of 92 children, US researchers from Washington University in Missouri found emotional support was "strongly predictive" of the size of the hippocampus by school age.

"The finding that early parenting support is directly related to healthy development of a key brain region opens an exciting opportunity to impact the development of children in a powerful and positive fashion," the study said.


Sleeping pill users 'up to five times more likely to die early'

Probably because people who are unwell to start with often need pills to get to sleep. Some healthy skepticism expressed towards the end of the article below

Sleeping pills used by millions of Britons may increase the risk of early death more than five-fold, warn researchers. The higher the dose, the greater the risk. Those on higher doses also have an increased risk of cancer.

But a study suggests even patients taking fewer than 18 pills a year are more likely to die prematurely than those not on medication.

The findings come from U.S. research, but most of the drugs involved are commonly prescribed in Britain. They include benzodiazepines such as temazepam and diazepam, newer sedative hypnotics zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon, and barbiturates and sedative antihistamines.

British experts said worried patients should not stop taking the pills but talk to their GPs first.

The study found those prescribed sleeping pills were 4.6 times more likely to die during a two-and-a-half-year period compared with those not on the drugs.

Those taking the lowest doses – four to 18 pills a year – had a 3.6 times higher risk of dying compared with non-users.

But the study, conducted by researchers at the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California, found the risk was greater at higher doses.

Those taking 18 to 132 pills a year had a 4.4 times higher risk of dying, while those on more than 132 pills a year were 5.3 times more likely to die.

Those taking the highest doses each year accounted for 93 per cent of prescriptions in the study.

This group was also 35 per cent more likely to develop a major cancer. For the drug zolpidem, the risk of death was 5.7 times higher, and for temazepam 6.6 times higher.

The effects were greatest among 18 to 55-year-olds, although the reasons are not clear. Just over 10,500 patients taking sleeping pills were compared with 23,500 not on the drugs, and the study took into account pre-existing illnesses.

The researchers concluded non-drug treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy may be more successful and NHS guidance backing 'even short-term use of hypnotics' should be reconsidered. Writing in BMJ Open, they said: 'The meagre benefits of hypnotics, as critically reviewed by groups without financial interest, would not justify substantial risks.'

The journal's editor-in-chief Dr Trish Groves added: 'Although the authors have not been able to prove that sleeping pills cause premature death... these findings raise important concerns.'

Insomnia prescription figures show that in 2010 in England, 2.8million were given for temazepam and almost 5.3million for zopiclone. There were also more than 725,000 prescriptions for zolpidem and more than 9,400 for zaleplon.

Malcolm Lader, professor of clinical psychopharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said patients should discuss any concerns they had with their GPs but 'should not under any circumstances stop taking their medication' suddenly.

He added: 'I agree these drugs do have problems, but I find some of these results difficult to accept. 'The main one is that with 18 doses a year you have three times the mortality – that's quite incredible, because you would have people dropping like flies. 'We need to hold judgment until we have further studies.'


1 comment:

Carole said...

Great blog - you might like to look at this article in the Telegraph about research showing that attending meetings lowers IQ