Strange & Interesting News
Published: Mar 6, 2012
ADHD Study: Anesthetics, Stimulants, Genes, Food Coloring Affect Youngest Children
by Staff

Multiple exposures to anesthesia at a young age are associated with higher rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, says one study, but younger children within the same grade level may actually be over-diagnosed with ADHD as compared to their counterparts.

Dr. David Warner, a Mayo Clinic pediatric anesthesiologist, and colleagues found children exposed to two or more anesthetics before age 3 had more than double the incidence of ADHD than children who had no exposure.

The study utilized results of an existing epidemiological study that looked at educational records of children born between 1976 and 1982 in Rochester, Minn., and determined those who developed some form of learning disability or ADHD.

Children who had no exposure to anesthesia and surgery had ADHD at a rate of 7.3 percent and the rate after a single exposure to anesthesia and surgery was approximately the same. However, for children who had two or more exposures to anesthesia and surgery, the rate of ADHD was 17.9 percent, even after researchers adjusted for other factors, including gestational age, sex, birth weight and co-morbid health conditions, Warner said.

The findings, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, do not mean that anesthesia causes ADHD.

"This is an observational study," Warner said in a statement. "A wide range of other factors might be responsible for the higher frequency of ADHD in children with multiple exposures. The findings certainly do suggest that further investigation into this area is warranted, and investigators at Mayo Clinic and elsewhere are actively pursuing these studies."

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder who routinely spend time outside with trees and grass exhibit milder symptoms, researchers say.

Study authors Andrea Faber Taylor, a visiting crop sciences teaching associate at the University of Illinois, and Frances (Ming) Kuo, a natural resources and environmental sciences professor at the school, said the study involved 400 children with ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD include severe difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity and poor impulse control.

"Before the current study, we were confident that acute exposures to nature -- sort of one-time doses -- have short-term impacts on ADHD symptoms," Kuo said in a statement.

"The question is, if you're getting chronic exposure, but it's the same old stuff because it's in your back yard or it's the playground at your school, then does that help?"

The study, published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, found children with ADHD who regularly played in outdoor settings with lots of green -- grass and trees, for example -- have milder ADHD symptoms than those who play indoors or in built outdoor environments.

"On the whole, the green settings were related to milder overall symptoms than either the 'built outdoors' or 'indoors' settings," Taylor added.

The researchers also found that children who were high in hyperactivity -- rather than ADD -- tended to have milder symptoms if they regularly played in a green and open environment such as a soccer field or expansive lawn rather than in a green space with lots of trees or an indoor or built outdoor setting.

Additionally, the greater the severity of a child's attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms, the more negative the child's quality of life, researchers say.

Dr. Christine Limbers, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, says the study compared children with ADHD in different types of treatment settings.

The researchers surveyed nearly 200 families and evaluated health-related quality of life and family functioning, such as physical, emotional, social and family relationships, from both the perspective of children with physician-diagnosed ADHD and their parents.

Researchers then compared those results to a sample of healthy children and to children with ADHD being seen in a psychiatric clinic.

The study, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, found that children with ADHD treated by a pediatrician had better overall health-related quality of life and family functioning than children with ADHD being treated in a psychiatric clinic.

"These findings have potential implications for the healthcare needs of children with ADHD," Limbers says in a statement.

"The finding that overall agreement between children and parent ratings of the child's quality of life was low underscores the importance of evaluating both children's and parents' perspectives regarding quality of life in routine assessment in clinical practice and clinical trials for children with ADHD since their different perspectives potentially provide unique information."

Poor children whose mothers experienced diabetes while pregnant are at higher risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Yoko Nomura of Queens College, City University of New York, in Flushing, and colleagues, compared offspring of mothers with and without gestational diabetes mellitus -- in an economically diverse sample.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy -- especially during the third trimester, Nomura said.

The study authors distributed the ADHD Rating Scale-IV to parents of children ages 3-4 children in preschools surrounding Queens College, and recruited 212 participants at a 2:1 ratio of "at risk" to "typically developing" children, Nomura said.

Children in low socioeconomic status families, compared to high socioeconomic status families, had greater inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity scores, Nomura said.

The results showed no difference in the risk for ADHD at baseline, but a two-fold increased risk at age 6 among children exposed to gestational diabetes mellitus compared with children who were not exposed.

There was also a two-fold increased risk for ADHD at baseline and at age 6 among children in low socioeconomic status families, the study said.

Researchers have also analyzed genetic influences on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and found changes in some genes affected brain signaling pathways.

Study leader Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the discovery raises the possibility that drugs acting on those pathways might offer a new treatment option for patients with ADHD who have those gene variants.

"At least 10 percent of the ADHD patients in our sample have these particular genetic variants," Hakonarson said in a statement.

The study team did whole-genome analyses of 1,000 children with ADHD, recruited at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, compared to 4,100 children without ADHD.

The researchers searched for copy number variations, which are deletions or duplications of DNA sequences, and evaluated the initial findings in multiple independent cohorts that included nearly 2,500 cases with ADHD and 9,200 control subjects.

Co-first author Dr. Josephine Elia, a child psychiatrist at Children's Hospital, said thousands of genes may contribute to the risk of ADHD, but identifying a gene family responsible for 10 percent of cases is a robust finding in a common neuropsychiatric disorder such as ADHD. (c) UPI

Interesting short article here

And here's a great article about food dyes affecting the hyper-behaviour of children. Simply eliminating some key foods from your child's diet can help immensely in controlling behaviour issues. (c) tPC

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