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Inner-ear problems could be a cause of hyperactive behaviour, research suggests. A study on mice, published in Science, said such problems caused changes in the brain that led to hyperactivity. It could lead to the development of new targets for behaviour disorder treatments, the US team says. A UK expert said the study's findings were "intriguing" and should be investigated further. Behavioural problems such as ADHD are usually thought to originate in the brain. But scientists have observed that children and teenagers with inner-ear disorders - especially those that affect hearing and balance - often have behavioural problems. However, no causal link has been found. The researchers in this study suggest inner-ear disorders lead to problems in the brain which then also affect behaviour. The team from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York noticed some mice in the lab were particularly active - constantly chasing their tails. They were found to be profoundly deaf and have disorders of the inner ear - of both the cochlea, which is responsible for hearing, and the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance. The researchers found a mutation in the Slc12a2 gene, also found in humans. Blocking the gene's activity in the inner ears of healthy mice caused them to become increasingly active. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 18613 - Posted: 09.07.2013

Posted by Dr. Sushrut Jangi The child's family and physician were making decisions about how to treat this disease. Many readers voted that starting an ADHD medication and behavioral therapy together might be a good way forward. Her doctor agrees with this approach. "A lot of judgement happens the day I talk about starting medicines for young children," Dr. Chan says. Most parents have already tried numerous other routes, such as behavioral therapy which is frequently recommended first. But behavioral therapy alone is hard to implement. "It's hard to access and there's not too many families who can actually carry it out," Chan says. "If you're a single parent working multiple jobs, its really hard to fit the time to take your child regularly. It's a huge time investment." J's parents tried the behavioral therapy route and they worked hard at it. But he wasn't improving. Dr. Chan is more than familiar with the culture of fear that surrounds ADHD medications, but she feels these fears are overinflated. Consequently, children who might benefit from being on medicine get delayed treatments, which can have harmful social effects. "Children in his class already know that he's different, so they react to him differently. Children with ADHD start getting negative feedback from their peers early on." Dr. Chan feels that this is one potential justification for starting medications early. "These medicines can help children get out of cycles of negative-feedback. And we're not condemning children to medicine for the rest of their lives. They can be started as a trial, and then stopped down the line." © 2013 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18551 - Posted: 08.24.2013

Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters Children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as kids who don't have a developmental disability, according to a new study. Researchers also found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk of gaming addictions, compared to children without the disabilities. "What we found is that it looks like (addictive gaming) was largely driven by inattention," Christopher Engelhardt, one of the study's authors from the University of Missouri in Columbia, told Reuters Health. Previous studies have found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD spend more time playing video games and are at increased risk for gaming addictions than other children, write the researchers in the journal Pediatrics. No single study, however, has looked at the three groups to see whether shared features of autism and ADHD - such as inattention or hyperactivity - seem to drive video game use. For the new study, Engelhardt and his colleague surveyed the parents of 141 boys between the ages of 8 and 18 years old. Of those, 56 had an autism spectrum disorder, 44 had ADHD and 41 were developing normally. Overall, they found that kids with an autism spectrum disorder played - on average - 2.1 hours of video games per day. Children with ADHD spent about 1.7 hours per day playing video games and normally developing kids played about 1.2 hours per day.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18442 - Posted: 08.01.2013

By SABRINA TAVERNISE WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that it had approved the first brain wave test to help diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. The test uses an electroencephalogram, or EEG, with sensors attached to a child’s head and hooked by wires to a computer to measure brain waves. It traces different types of electrical impulses given off by nerve cells in the brain and records how many times those impulses are given off each second. The test takes 15 to 20 minutes, and measures two kinds of brain waves — theta and beta. Certain combinations of those waves tend to be more prevalent in children with A.D.H.D., the Food and Drug Administration said in a news release. The disorder is one of the most common behavioral disorders in children. About 9 percent of adolescents have A.D.H.D. and the average age of diagnosis is 7, the drug agency said, citing the American Psychiatric Association. Children who have it tend to be hyperactive, impulsive and exhibit behavioral problems. The maker of the testing device, NEBA Health of Augusta, Ga., gave the F.D.A. data from a study of 275 children and adolescents, ages 6 to 17, with attention or hyperactivity problems. Clinicians used the device, called a Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid, in combination with traditional testing methods, like listing the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, behavioral questionnaires and I.Q. testing. An outside group of researchers then reviewed the data and decided whether the child had the disorder. The results showed that the device helped doctors make a more accurate diagnosis than using traditional methods alone, the F.D.A. said. An agency spokeswoman said it did not release the study’s data. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 18380 - Posted: 07.16.2013

By ALAN SCHWARZ An analysis published Wednesday by the American Medical Association said children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who take stimulant medication do not have a lower risk over all for later substance abuse, contradicting the longstanding and influential message that such medicines tend to deter those with the disorder from abusing other substances. The paper, written by three researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, examined data from 15 previous studies on the subject and determined that, on average, medications like Adderall and Ritalin had no effect one way or the other on whether children abused alcohol, marijuana, nicotine or cocaine later in life. A 2003 study in the journal Pediatrics had concluded that the introduction of stimulant medication to children with A.D.H.D. reduced the risk of such abuse later in life, a finding that has been repeated by doctors and pharmaceutical companies not only to assuage parents’ fears of medication but also to suggest that the pills would protect their children from later harm. “I always doubted the whole ‘protection’ argument, and I wasn’t the only one, but that message was really out there,” said Liz Jorgensen, an adolescent addiction specialist at Insight Counseling in Ridgefield, Conn. “Hopefully, this message will be heard loud and clear.” The study comes amid growing concern about the persistent rise in A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for medication among children. A recent New York Times analysis of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 11 percent of all children ages 4 through 17 — 6.4 million over all — had received a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. from a medical professional. The diagnosis rate rose to 19 percent for boys of high school age. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18206 - Posted: 05.30.2013

By Tara Haelle Identification and treatment issues surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are challenging enough. Now research is shedding light on long-term outcomes for people with ADHD. A recent study in Pediatrics reports that men who had ADHD in childhood are twice as likely to be obese in middle age, even if they no longer exhibit symptoms of ADHD. ADHD is a mental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention and inability to focus. It affects approximately 6.8 percent of U.S. children ages 3 to 17 in any given year, according to a recent report by the CDC. Medications used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine), are stimulants that can suppress appetite, however, a couple recent retrospective studies have pointed to a possible increased risk for obesity among adults diagnosed with ADHD as children. The new 33-year prospective study started with 207 healthy middle-class white boys from New York City between 6 and 12 years old, who had been diagnosed with ADHD. When the cohort reached an average age of 18, another 178 healthy boys without ADHD were recruited for comparison. At the most recent follow-up when the participants were an average age of 41, a total of 222 men remained in the study. A troubling pattern emerged: A comparison of the men’s self-reported height and weight revealed that twice as many men with childhood ADHD were obese than those without childhood ADHD. The average body mass index (BMI) of the men with childhood ADHD was 30.1 and 41.4 percent were obese, whereas those without the condition as kids reported an average BMI of 27.6 and an obesity rate of 21.6 percent. The association held even after the researchers controlled for socioeconomic status, depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 18174 - Posted: 05.20.2013

By Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz A German children's book from 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman featured “Fidgety Philip,” a boy who was so restless he would writhe and tilt wildly in his chair at the dinner table. Once, using the tablecloth as an anchor, he dragged all the dishes onto the floor. Yet it was not until 1902 that a British pediatrician, George Frederic Still, described what we now recognize as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since Still's day, the disorder has gone by a host of names, including organic drivenness, hyperkinetic syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and now ADHD. Despite this lengthy history, the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in today's children could hardly be more controversial. On his television show in 2004, Phil McGraw (“Dr. Phil”) opined that ADHD is “so overdiagnosed,” and a survey in 2005 by psychologists Jill Norvilitis of the University at Buffalo, S.U.N.Y., and Ping Fang of Capitol Normal University in Beijing revealed that in the U.S., 82 percent of teachers and 68 percent of undergraduates agreed that “ADHD is overdiagnosed today.” According to many critics, such overdiagnosis raises the specter of medicalizing largely normal behavior and relying too heavily on pills rather than skills—such as teaching children better ways of coping with stress. Yet although data point to at least some overdiagnosis, at least in boys, the extent of this problem is unclear. In fact, the evidence, with notable exceptions, appears to be stronger for the undertreatment than overtreatment of ADHD. © 2013 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18105 - Posted: 05.02.2013

By ALAN SCHWARZ FRESNO, Calif. — Lisa Beach endured two months of testing and paperwork before the student health office at her college approved a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Then, to get a prescription for Vyvanse, a standard treatment for A.D.H.D., she had to sign a formal contract — promising to submit to drug testing, to see a mental health professional every month and to not share the pills. “As much as it stunk, it’s nice to know, ‘O.K., this is legit,' ” said Ms. Beach, a senior at California State University, Fresno. The rigorous process, she added, has deterred some peers from using the student health office to obtain A.D.H.D. medications, stimulants long abused on college campuses. “I tell them it takes a couple months,” Ms. Beach said, “and they’re like, ‘Oh, never mind.’ ” Fresno State is one of dozens of colleges tightening the rules on the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. and the subsequent prescription of amphetamine-based medications like Vyvanse and Adderall. Some schools are reconsidering how their student health offices handle A.D.H.D., and even if they should at all. Various studies have estimated that as many as 35 percent of college students illicitly take these stimulants to provide jolts of focus and drive during finals and other periods of heavy stress. Many do not know that it is a federal crime to possess the pills without a prescription and that abuse can lead to anxiety, depression and, occasionally, psychosis. Although few experts dispute that stimulant medications can be safe and successful treatments for many people with a proper A.D.H.D. diagnosis, the growing concern about overuse has led some universities, as one student health director put it, “to get out of the A.D.H.D. business.” © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18102 - Posted: 05.01.2013

By Linda Carroll, Kate Snow and Meghan Frank, NBC News As a little girl, Bonnie Ihme had big plans. Bright and artistically talented, she dreamed of becoming an architect. But the older she got, the more distant that dream seemed. By third grade, school had become a struggle. She felt easily distracted and found it impossible to focus in class. Eventually she abandoned her plan to be an architect. Ihme got married, had two kids and began cleaning houses and helping her husband with his business. But even that simpler life felt impossibly difficult. The Michigan mom had trouble keeping track of all the threads of her life. She’d send her kids to school without sneakers on gym day. She’d forget to bring library books back. She felt more overwhelmed than ever before. “I really would try hard to pull it all together,” Ihme told NBC’s Kate Snow in an interview airing on Rock Center Friday. “But when … you’re late for a Christmas concert that your daughter was really looking forward to going to and we get there and her class is walking back to the classroom and the tears in her eyes… you try harder.” Ihme saw history repeating itself in her 10-year-old son, Jacob, who began struggling with school, just as she had. Jacob would spend hours doing his homework, only to forget to bring it to school the next morning. Ihme’s heart ached for her son. © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 18001 - Posted: 04.08.2013

By ALAN SCHWARZ and SARAH COHEN Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children. The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis. “Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.” And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17970 - Posted: 04.01.2013

By Jan Brogan Paula Driscoll had a hard time sitting still as a kid, doodled a lot, and often wrestled with the feeling that she should be accomplishing more. But she made it through high school and college and became an elementary school teacher. With three small children at home, she did not feel she had trouble managing her life. But when her youngest child went to school, she found herself with what felt like too much time on her hands. “I couldn’t get anything done,” she said. “I had one room I started to paint, another I was going to reorganize, and I could never complete a task. I couldn’t stay in the house. I went out on one errand after the next.” Driscoll was 45 when she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. ADHD, a neurobiological disorder that makes it difficult to focus and can also include hyperactivity and impulsivity, has historically been viewed as a childhood disease. Over the last couple decades, research has shown that many of those afflicted carry symptoms into adulthood. The latest study, led by a Boston Children’s Hospital researcher and published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that nearly 30 percent of those with childhood ADHD still have the condition as adults ­— often after discontinuing treatment. The researchers followed hundreds of children with ADHD into adulthood and reported that the majority had mental health problems such as alcohol or drug dependence, anxiety, depression, or a personality disorder. © 2012 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17893 - Posted: 03.12.2013

by Sheila M. Eldred Picture someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and you probably conjure up an image of an elementary school-age boy. But an analysis of data from the first large, population-based study to follow kids through to adulthood shows that the neurobehavioral disorder rarely goes away with age. Indeed, as ADHD patients make the transition to adulthood, the issues they face often multiply: they are more likely to have other psychiatric disorders and even commit suicide, reports a new study published online today in Pediatrics. NEWS: ADHD Linked to Missing Genes In fact, researchers found that only 37.5 percent of the adults who had been diagnosed with the disorder as a child were free of other psychiatric disorders, including alcohol and drug dependence, in their late 20s. Very few of the children with ADHD were still being treated as adults -- although neuropsychiatric interviews confirmed that 29 percent still had it. “I think there has been a view that ADHD is a childhood disorder, and it’s only relatively recently that people have been trained to detect it in adults,” said Nathan Blum, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study. Among the adults who’d had ADHD as a child, 57 percent had at least one other psychiatric disorder, compared with 35 percent of the controls. Just under 2 percent percent had died; of the seven deaths, three were suicides. Of the controls, less than 1 percent had died. Of those 37 deaths, five were from suicide. And 2.7 percent were incarcerated at the time of recruitment for the study. © 2013 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 17865 - Posted: 03.04.2013

By melody Yesterday, Alan Schwarz, reporting for the Sunday edition of The New York Times, published an alarmist piece on Adderall abuse. The story chronicles the short life of Richard Fee, a popular young pre-med who, after dabbling in fast-acting stimulants in college, faked his way into an ADHD diagnosis and, within months of filling his first prescription, began heavily abusing the drug, leading to severe addiction and psychosis, and ultimately to his suicide, two years ago, at the age of twenty-four. The story of Richard Fee is a tragic one, and one that highlights both the dangers of prescribing ADHD drugs to neurotypical adults and some of the problems endemic in psychiatric diagnosis. Regrettably, the reporter seems to believe that these problems are somehow specific to amphetamines, signaling “widespread failings in the system through which five million Americans take medication for ADHD”, and that Richard’s harrowing case, while undoubtedly rare, “underscores aspects of ADHD treatment that are mishandled every day with countless patients”. Schwarz is a Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, renowned for exposing the danger of concussive head injuries in football. More recently, he has cast that same critical eye on how attention-deficit disorder is diagnosed. The question is – to what end? Presumably – in the case of this story – to tighten the restrictions on how amphetamines are prescribed to adults, and to ward against the kind of negligence and lack of oversight that characterized Richard’s case. But there is a delicate balance to be struck here between serving the needs of the ADHD population, many of whom benefit tremendously from the regulated use of stimulants, and potential drug addicts, like Richard. It is also far from clear, given the nature of psychiatric nosology, that there are any surefire ways of stopping con-artists and addicts from gaming the system. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17764 - Posted: 02.05.2013

By ALAN SCHWARZ VIRGINIA BEACH — Every morning on her way to work, Kathy Fee holds her breath as she drives past the squat brick building that houses Dominion Psychiatric Associates. It was there that her son, Richard, visited a doctor and received prescriptions for Adderall, an amphetamine-based medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was in the parking lot that she insisted to Richard that he did not have A.D.H.D., not as a child and not now as a 24-year-old college graduate, and that he was getting dangerously addicted to the medication. It was inside the building that her husband, Rick, implored Richard’s doctor to stop prescribing him Adderall, warning, “You’re going to kill him.” It was where, after becoming violently delusional and spending a week in a psychiatric hospital in 2011, Richard met with his doctor and received prescriptions for 90 more days of Adderall. He hanged himself in his bedroom closet two weeks after they expired. The story of Richard Fee, an athletic, personable college class president and aspiring medical student, highlights widespread failings in the system through which five million Americans take medication for A.D.H.D., doctors and other experts said. Medications like Adderall can markedly improve the lives of children and others with the disorder. But the tunnel-like focus the medicines provide has led growing numbers of teenagers and young adults to fake symptoms to obtain steady prescriptions for highly addictive medications that carry serious psychological dangers. These efforts are facilitated by a segment of doctors who skip established diagnostic procedures, renew prescriptions reflexively and spend too little time with patients to accurately monitor side effects. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17752 - Posted: 02.04.2013

By Linda Carroll In just 10 years the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, rose dramatically, a large new study suggests. Overall, about 5 percent of nearly 843,000 kids ages 5 to 11 were diagnosed between 2001 and 2010 with the condition that can cause impulsive behavior and trouble concentrating. But during that time, rates of new ADHD diagnoses skyrocketed 24 percent – jumping from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010. That’s according to a comprehensive review of medical records for children who were covered by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health plan. Rates rose most among minority kids during the study period, climbing nearly 70 percent overall in black children, and 60 percent among Hispanic youngsters, according the study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Among black girls, ADHD rates jumped 90 percent. Rates remained highest in white children, climbing from 4.7 percent to 5.6 percent during the study period. The biggest factor driving this increase may be the heightened awareness of ADHD among parents, teachers, and pediatricians, says the study’s lead author Dr. Darios Getahun, a scientist with Kaiser Permanente. For kids who need help, that’s a good thing, Getahun says. “The earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier we can initiate treatment which leads to a better outcome for the child,” he says. © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17706 - Posted: 01.22.2013

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR A new study of elementary and middle school students has found that those who are the youngest in their grades score worse on standardized tests than their older classmates and are more likely to be prescribed stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The findings suggest that in a given grade, students born at the end of the calendar year may be at a distinct disadvantage. Those perceived as having academic or behavioral problems may in fact be lagging simply as a result of being forced to compete with classmates almost a full year older than them. For a child as young as 5, a span of one year can account for 20 percent of the child’s age, potentially making him or her appear significantly less mature than older classmates. The new study found that the lower the grade, the greater the disparity. For children in the fourth grade, the researchers found that those in the youngest third of their class had an 80 to 90 percent increased risk of scoring in the lowest decile on standardized tests. They were also 50 percent more likely than the oldest third of their classmates to be prescribed stimulants for A.D.H.D. The differences diminished somewhat over time, the researchers found, but continued at least through the seventh grade. The new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, used data from Iceland, where health and academic measures are tracked nationally and stimulant prescription rates are high and on par with rates in the United States. Previous studies carried out there and in other countries have shown similar patterns, even among college students. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17519 - Posted: 11.21.2012

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR A new study suggests that prenatal exposure to mercury is associated with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but the greater a mother’s consumption of fish — a source of mercury — the less likely her child is to suffer these symptoms. The apparently paradoxical findings, published online last week in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, come from an analysis of 607 children born between 1993 and 1998. The researchers reviewed data on the amounts of mercury in the mothers’ hair, comparing them against dietary records. At ages 7 to 10, the children underwent neuropsychological examinations. After controlling for fish consumption and many other factors, the scientists found an association between several A.D.H.D.-related behaviors and levels of mercury above one microgram per gram in the maternal hair samples. At the same time, they found that after adjusting for mercury levels, mothers who ate more than two servings of fish per week — more than the 12 ounces that government guidelines suggest — were less likely to have children with A.D.H.D.-related behaviors. “All fish has some mercury in it, but there are very different levels,” said the lead author, Sharon K. Sagiv, an assistant professor at Boston University. The findings may seem contradictory, she added, but “they highlight an important public health issue: Eating fish is good for you, but eating fish that is high in mercury is not.” Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17375 - Posted: 10.16.2012

By Kate Kelland and Reuters, Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder who take stimulants such as Ritalin tend to feel that the drugs help them control their behavior and do not turn them into “robots,” as many skeptics assume, a study reported on Monday. The research, which for the first time asked children taking ADHD drugs what they felt about their treatment and its effects, found that many said medication helped them manage their impulsivity and make better decisions. “With medication, it’s not that you’re a different person. You’re still the same person, but you just act a little better,” said Angie, an 11-year-old American who took part in the study and was quoted in a report about its findings. The results are likely to further fuel the debate about whether children with ADHD, some as young as 4 years old, should be given stimulants. ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders in the United States, where parents report that 9.5 percent of children ages 4 and older have received such a diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Britain, where the authors of the study are based, experts estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of children and adolescents have ADHD. Symptoms of the disorder include difficulty staying focused, hyperactivity and problems with controlling disruptive or aggressive behavior. © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17374 - Posted: 10.16.2012

By Janet Raloff For pregnant women, diets rich in fish can offer their babies protection against developing behaviors associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, a new study finds. Yet for most Americans, fish consumption is the leading source of exposure to mercury — a potent neurotoxic pollutant that has been linked to a host of health problems, including delays in neural development. Data from the new study, published online October 8 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, demonstrate that low-mercury diets and regular fish consumption are not mutually exclusive, says epidemiologist and study leader Susan Korrick of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It really depends on the type of fish that you’re eating,” she says. In fact, some study participants had been eating more than two servings of fish weekly yet accumulated relatively little mercury. As part of a long-running study of children born during the 1990s in New Bedford, Mass., 515 women who had just given birth completed a dietary survey. About 420 also provided samples of their hair for mercury testing. About eight years later, Korrick’s team administered a battery of IQ and other tests to assess behaviors associated with ADHD in the children. The children spanned a continuum running from almost no ADHD-related behaviors to those with outright clinical disease. A mom’s hair-mercury level tended to be associated with where her child fell along this spectrum. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17351 - Posted: 10.09.2012

By Marla Cone and Environmental Health News Children exposed to higher levels of mercury or lead are three to five times more likely to be identified by teachers as having problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to a scientific study published today. The study – of Inuit children in Arctic Quebec – is the first to find a high rate of attention-deficit symptoms in children highly exposed to mercury in the womb. In addition, the Inuit children more often had hyperactivity symptoms if they were exposed to the same low levels of lead commonly found in young U.S. children. In the United States, one of every 10 children has been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is one of the most common brain disorders of childhood. Researchers from Laval University in Quebec surveyed teachers of 279 children in Nunavik between the ages of 8 and 14, using standardized questionnaires developed by psychiatrists for diagnosing ADHD. Developmental psychologist Gina Muckle, the study’s senior author, said the findings are important because they show for the first time that mercury’s effects on children are not just subtle, but are actually noticeable to teachers. The effects from exposure in the womb “may be clinically significant and may interfere with learning and performance in the classroom,” says the study, published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. . © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 17285 - Posted: 09.22.2012