Young teens’ weight terror ‘common’


Scales
About 10% of 13-year-old girls are “terrified” about putting on weight, the first UK study looking for warning signs of eating disorders suggests.

Doctors said they were “worried” by the high degree of weight fixation found in 13-year-old girls, years before eating disorders typically start.

Researchers say it might be possible to stop full eating disorders developing.

Their findings, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, came from interviews with the parents of 7,082 13-year-olds.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia, tend to start in the mid-teenage years, although they can begin before then.

“Start Quote

For me the results were particularly worrying”

Dr Nadia Micali

The study, by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, looked at the years before those disorders tend to start.

Interviews with the parents of 7,082 13-year-old schoolchildren showed:

  • Nearly 12% of girls and 5% of boys were “terrified” by the thought of getting fat
  • 52% of girls and a third of boys said they were “a little worried” about getting fat
  • One in three girls and one in five boys were “distressed” by their body shape
  • 26% of girls and 15% of boys had “eating disorder behaviours” such as fasting
  • Some habits, such as uncontrolled bingeing, were linked to higher weight two years later

One of the researchers, Dr Nadia Micali, told the BBC she was surprised children were so concerned about weight at such a young age.

“For me the results were particularly worrying, I wouldn’t have thought they’d be so common at this age.

“Part of me thinks it’s a shame we didn’t ask earlier, we don’t know when this behaviour starts.

“Quite a large proportion will develop full-blown eating disorders, maybe more than half.”

However, she said there might be an opportunity to help children before they develop an eating disorder if a reliable set of warning signs could be developed for parents and teachers.

In a statement the eating disorder charity Beat said it was an interesting and important study.

“This is the first time a study like this has been carried out so we have nothing to compare it to and therefore don’t know if the problem is increasing or getting worse.

“However it is striking and worrying how many young people had concerns about their weight from such a young age.

“It does not mean that they will all go on to develop eating disorders, but they could be tempted by unhealthy ways to control their weight and shape.”

The findings came through data collected from the Children of the 90s study.

Bullying

A separate analysis of those children, by a team at the University of Warwick, suggested bullying was linked to an increased risk of psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices, and paranoia.

Lead researcher Prof Dieter Wolke said: “We want to eradicate the myth that bullying at a young age could be viewed as a harmless rite of passage that everyone goes through – it casts a long shadow over a person’s life and can have serious consequences for mental health.

“It strengthens on the evidence base that reducing bullying in childhood could substantially reduce mental health problems.

“The benefit to society would be huge, but of course, the greatest benefit would be to the individual.”

Depression risk ‘starts in the womb’


Children whose mothers are depressed during pregnancy have a small increased risk of depression in adulthood, according to a UK study.

Medical treatment during pregnancy could lower the risk of future mental health problems in the child, say researchers at Bristol University.

Pregnant woman

The study followed the offspring of more than 8,000 mothers who had postnatal or antenatal depression.

The risk is around 1.3 times higher than normal at age 18, it found.

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry. Lead researcher Dr Rebecca Pearson told the BBC: “Depression in pregnancy should be taken seriously and treated in pregnancy. It looks like there is a long-term risk to the child, although it is small.”

She said it was an association, not a causal link, and needed further investigation.

Prof Carmine Pariante of King’s College London‘s Institute of Psychiatry said the development of an individual’s mental health did not start at birth but in the uterus.

“The message is clear – helping women who are depressed in pregnancy will not only alleviate their suffering but also the suffering of the next generation.”

Prof Celso Arango of Gregorio Maranon General University Hospital, Madrid, said stress hormones may affect the child’s development in the womb.

“Women with depression would ideally be treated before getting pregnant, but if they are already pregnant when diagnosed with depression it is even more important that they are treated as it will impact on the mother and child.”

The researchers think different factors may be involved in antenatal and postnatal depression, with environmental factors such as social support having a bigger impact in postnatal depression.

The data comes from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – a long-term health research project, also known as Children of the 90s.

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

Iodine deficiencies during pregnancy linked to lower IQ in offspring.


Iodine deficiencies during pregnancy may have negative neurocognitive outcomes among offspring, according to findings by researchers in the United Kingdom that were published in The Lancet.

Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should ensure adequate iodine intake; good dietary sources are milk, dairy products and fish. Women who avoid these foods and are seeking alternative iodine sources can consult the iodine fact sheet that we have developed, which is available on the websites of the University of Surrey and the British Dietetic Association. Kelp supplements should be avoided, as they may have excessive levels of iodine,” Sarah C. Bath, PhD, RD, of the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey, said in a press release.

Bath and colleagues analyzed stored samples of urinary iodine concentrations from 1,040 first-trimester pregnant women, measures of IQ from the offspring aged 8 years and reading ability at age 9 years. The mother-child pairs were collected from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

The researchers defined mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency as a median urinary iodine concentration of 91.1 mcg/L (interquartile range [IQR], 53.8-143; iodine-to-creatinine ratio of 110 mcg/g; IQR, 74-170).

After adjusting for 21 socioeconomic, parental and child factors as confounders, data indicated that children of women with an iodine-to-creatinine ratio of less than 150 mcg/g were more likely to have scores in the lowest quartile for verbal IQ (OR=1.58; 95% CI, 1.09-2.3), reading accuracy (OR=1.69; 95% CI, 1.15-2.49) and reading comprehension (OR=1.54; 95% CI, 1.06-2.23) vs. those of mothers with ratios of at least 150 mcg/g. Furthermore, scores continued to dwindle when the less than 150-mcg/g group was subdivided, researchers wrote.

In an accompanying commentary, Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE,professor of medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, andElizabeth N. Pearce, MD, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, wrote that this study, along with previous research, represents a call-to-action because of the documented link between iodine deficiency and poor neurocognitive outcomes.

 “Absence of a public health policy in the face of clear documentation of moderate iodine deficiency and strong evidence of its deleterious effect on the neurodevelopmentof children is ill advised,” they wrote. “Nor should unmonitored and adventitious dietary iodine sources continue to be relied on.”

Source: Endocrine Today

Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

Summary

Background

As a component of thyroid hormones, iodine is essential for fetal brain development. Although the UK has long been considered iodine replete, increasing evidence suggests that it might now be mildly iodine deficient. We assessed whether mild iodine deficiency during early pregnancy was associated with an adverse effect on child cognitive development.

Methods

We analysed mother—child pairs from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort by measuring urinary iodine concentration (and creatinine to correct for urine volume) in stored samples from 1040 first-trimester pregnant women. We selected women on the basis of a singleton pregnancy and availability of both a urine sample from the first trimester (defined as ≤13 weeks’ gestation; median 10 weeks [IQR 9—12]) and a measure of intelligence quotient (IQ) in the offspring at age 8 years. Women’s results for iodine-to-creatinine ratio were dichotomised to less than 150 μg/g or 150 μg/g or more on the basis of WHO criteria for iodine deficiency or sufficiency in pregnancy. We assessed the association between maternal iodine status and child IQ at age 8 years and reading ability at age 9 years. We included 21 socioeconomic, parental, and child factors as confounders.

Findings

The group was classified as having mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency on the basis of a median urinary iodine concentration of 91·1 μg/L (IQR 53·8—143; iodine-to-creatinine ratio 110 μg/g, IQR 74—170). After adjustment for confounders, children of women with an iodine-to-creatinine ratio of less than 150 μg/g were more likely to have scores in the lowest quartile for verbal IQ (odds ratio 1·58, 95% CI 1·09—2·30; p=0·02), reading accuracy (1·69, 1·15—2·49; p=0·007), and reading comprehension (1·54, 1·06—2·23; p=0·02) than were those of mothers with ratios of 150 μg/g or more. When the less than 150 μg/g group was subdivided, scores worsened ongoing from 150 μg/g or more, to 50—150 μg/g, to less than 50 μg/g.

Interpretation

Our results show the importance of adequate iodine status during early gestation and emphasise the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient. Iodine deficiency in pregnant women in the UK should be treated as an important public health issue that needs attention.

Source: Lancet