Monday, November 19, 2012

Stressful pregnancy 'could make children easier prey for bullies'

At risk of being unkind, this study could be interpreted as showing that feral parents have pathetic children.  The physiological effects postulated could be real but are speculation.  Genetic factors could also be involved.  The journal article is:  "Prenatal family adversity and maternal mental health and vulnerability to peer victimisation at school"

A mother's stress can pass to her baby in the womb.  Children whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy are more likely to be bullied at school, according to new research.

A study of nearly 9,000 children found anxiety during pregnancy could be passed on to the baby in the womb. Affected youngsters were more likely to cry, run away or feel anxious at school, making them easier prey for bullies.

Research leader Professor Dieter Wolke, of the University of Warwick, said: 'When we are exposed to stress, large quantities of neurohormones are released into the blood stream and in a pregnant woman this can change the developing foetus’ own stress response system.'

The study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry is based on 8,829 children from the Avon Longtitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Prof Wolke said: 'This is the first study to investigate stress in pregnancy and a child’s vulnerability to being bullied.  'Changes in the stress response system can affect behaviour and how children react emotionally to stress such as being picked on by a bully.  'Children who more easily show a stress reaction such as crying, running away, anxiety are then selected by bullies to home in to.'

His researchers identified the main prenatal stress factors as severe family problems, such as financial difficulty or alcohol and drug abuse, and maternal mental health.

Added Prof Wolke: 'The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, a child with an altered stress response system is more likely to be bullied, which affects their stress response even further and increases the likelihood of them developing mental health problems in later life.'

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) - which is also known as Children of the 90s - is a long-term health research project.

More than 14,000 mothers enrolled during pregnancy in 1991 and 1992, and the health and development of their children has been followed in great detail ever since.


Air pollution in towns and cities ‘ages brains of over-50s by three years’

Tell me the old, old story: Pollution bad!   As this iteration  of the scare has not been peer reviewed and published it is hard to evaluate but it is probably just more evidence that it is mainly the poor who live beside busy roads and other polluted areas

The higher level of air pollution in towns and cities is ageing the brains of over-50s by up to three years, research suggests.

Scientists have found that exposure to higher levels of air pollution can lead to decreased brain power in over-50s. Earlier research has also linked bad air to an increased risk of heart and breathing problems.

In a study of almost 15,000 older adults, researchers at the US-based National Institute on Aging found fine air particulate matter may be an important environmental risk factor for reduced thought power.  If inhaled, it is small enough to deposit in the lungs and possibly the brain.

Air pollution is already estimated to reduce the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months, probably by affecting the heart and lungs.

‘As a result of age-related declines in health and functioning, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of exposure to unhealthy air,’ said Dr Jennifer Ailshire, from the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California.

‘Air pollution has been linked to increased cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and even premature death, in older populations, and there is emerging evidence that exposure to particulate air pollution may have adverse effects on brain health and functioning as well.’

Scientists were studying the impact of a minute air pollutant known as PM2.5 on the health of the participants, which is produced by vehicle exhaust emissions, as well as gas boilers and heavy industry.

They found that for every additional 10 micrograms of the pollutant in a cubic metre of air - roughly the difference between inner London and rural Britain - the drop in participants brain power was equivalent to three years of ageing.

The association even remained after accounting for other factors, such as age, ethnicity, education, smoking behaviour, and respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

Professor Frank Kelly, a professor of environmental health at King’s College London, said: ‘The average amount of this pollutant in London is around 13 to 15 mcg per cubic metre, while in some rural areas away from traffic it can be as low as three or four mcg.

‘Here is another study showing that the quality of the air that we breathe can not only affect for our heart and lungs, but our brains as well.’

The new research was presented at The Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) 65th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego.


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