Monthly Archives: May 2016

Good nutrition for your health

That’s the main finding of a new study from two University of Pennsylvania researchers: Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in Penn’s School of Nursing and Perelman School of Medicine, and Adrian Raine, the Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology. They published their results in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition.

It’s a unique take on a field that often focuses on how poor diet negatively influences early childhood development.

“What people are not doing is looking at positive effects of good nutrition, in particular on social behavior,” said Raine, a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor with appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and Medicine. “We link nutrition to physical health but also social health and positive social behavior.”

Liu, whose interdisciplinary research focuses on early health factors and children’s neurobehavioral outcomes, said it’s a gap in the research she hopes this work might bridge. “No one has looked at positive social behavior,” she said. “Childhood social behavior, even adult social behavior, has a lot of implications for physical and mental health and well being.”

For this study, the scientists analyzed a sample of 1,795 3-year-old children from Mauritius, an island off the eastern coast of Africa with a population of about 1.3 million people. They focused on four aspects of physical health related to nutrition and four indicators of social development.

Physical health factors included anemia expressed by low hemoglobin levels, reflecting iron deficiency; angular stomatitis revealed by cracked lips and a lack of vitamin B2 and niacin; and insufficient protein intake indicated by thin or sparse hair and hair discoloration. On Mauritius, where the majority of children have black hair, that fourth factor shows up as an orange or red tint to the hair.

The researchers considered a child with just one of the quartet as “suffering from nutritional deficits.” However, children with more malnutrition indicators showed more impaired social behavior.

Social interactions studied included friendliness, extent of verbalization, active social play and exploratory behavior. A research assistant observed every child’s success and rated these factors on a specified scale. The observer knew that the research concentrated on child development and behavior but was unaware of the nutrition-related hypothesis.

Examining the relationship between these components after the fact, Liu and Raine then teased out a neurocognitive link between nutrition and comprehensive social behavior. It’s a connection undiscovered to this point.

“The bigger message is give children good nutrition early on,” Liu said. “Not only will it enhance cognitive function but, importantly, promote good social behavior,” which is essential to brain development and intelligence.

“In the same study,” Raine said, “we’ve shown that children with positive social behavior, eight years later, they have higher IQs.”

Despite the diversity of Mauritius, which has Indian, Creole and, to a smaller extent, Chinese, French and English populations, the researchers acknowledge a desire to replicate their findings in large cities in the United States. Another limitation is the study’s cross-sectional nature, meaning measurements occurred all at once rather than over a long period of time.

Ideally, Raine said, “you want a randomized control trial. You want to manipulate nutrition to see whether you can get improvements in social behavior and cognitive function.”

It’s possible to reverse the effects of poor nutrition, too, according to the researchers.

The advantages of diets

unduhan-18The findings are published online and will appear in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

“Little research has been done on how diet impacts physical function later in life. We study the connection between diet and many other aspects of health, but we don’t know much about diet and mobility, ” says Francine Grodstein, ScD, senior author of the study and a researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH. “We wanted to look at diet patterns and try to learn how our overall diet impacts our physicial function as we get older. “

Researchers examined the association between the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, a measure of diet quality, with reports of impairment in physical function among 54,762 women involved in the Nurses’ Health Study. Physical function was measured by a commonly used standard instrument every four years from 1992 to 2008 and diet was measured by food frequency questionnaires, which were administered approximately every four years beginning in 1980.

The data indicate that women who maintained a healthier diet were less likely to develop physical impairments compared to women whose diets were not as healthy. They also found a higher intake of vegetables and fruits, a lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fats, and sodium, and a moderate alcohol intake, were each significantly associated with reduced rates of physical impairment. Among individual foods, the strongest relations were found for increased intakes of oranges, orange juice, apples and pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts. However, researchers noted specific foods generally had weaker associations than the overall score, which indicates that overall diet quality is more important than individual foods.

“We think a lot about chronic diseases, cancer, heart disease, and tend not to think of physical function. Physical function is crucial as you age; it includes being able to get yourself dressed, walk around the block, and could impact your ability to live independently,” says Kaitlin Hagan, ScD, MPH, first author and a postdoctoral fellow at BWH.

Future research is needed to better understand dietary and lifestyle factors that influence physical function.

What is the risk factors of depression

images-32More than 10 million people had a stroke in 2013 and more than 30 million people worldwide live with a stroke diagnosis.

Merete Osler, M.D., D.M.Sc., Ph.D., of Copenhagen University, Denmark, and coauthors used data linked from seven Danish nationwide registers to examine how risk and risk factors for depression differ between patients with stroke and a reference population without stroke, as well as how depression influences death.

Among 135,417 patients with stroke, 34,346 (25.4 percent) had a diagnosis of depression within two years after stroke and more than half of the cases of depression (n=17,690) appeared in the first three months after stroke.

In a reference population of 145,499 people without stroke, 11,330 (7.8 percent) had a depression diagnosis within two years after entering the study and less than a quarter of the cases (n=2,449) appeared within the first three months, according to the results.

The risk of depression in patients during the first three months after stroke was eight times higher than in the reference population without stroke, the authors report.

Major risk factors for depression for patients after stroke and in the reference population were older age, female sex, living alone, basic educational attainment, diabetes, a high level of somatic comorbidity, history of depression and stroke severity (in patients with stroke), according to the results.

In both groups — patients with stroke and the reference population without stroke — depressed individuals, especially those with new onset, had increased risk of death from all causes.

Study limitations include a definition of depression that was based on psychiatric diagnoses and filling of antidepressant prescriptions, and most cases were defined by filling antidepressants, which can be prescribed for various diseases.

“Depression is common in patients with stroke during the first year after diagnosis, and those with prior depression or severe stroke are especially at risk. Because a large number of deaths can be attributable to depression after stroke, clinicians should be aware of this risk,” the study concludes.

You should know about migraine risk

According to the Professional Association of German Neurologists (BDN), migraine headaches have a high prevalence in the general population, and affect approximately one in five women. While migraines are known to be linked to an increased risk of stroke, only a few studies exist that demonstrate the relationship of migraines with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. A team of US and German researchers have now analyzed data from more than 115,500 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II.

The participants were aged between 25 and 42 years at baseline and free from cardiovascular disease and, of them, 17,531 (just over 15%) reported a physician’s diagnosis of migraine. Between 1989 and 2011, cardiovascular events were observed in 1,329 of these women; 223 died as a result. “Our analysis suggests that migraine should be considered an important risk marker for cardiovascular disease, particularly in women,” concludes Prof. Kurth, adding that: “The risk of developing cardiovascular events was shown to be 50% higher in women with a diagnosis of migraine. When compared to women unaffected by the condition, the risk of developing a heart attack was 39% higher for women with migraine, the risk of having a stroke 62% higher, and that of developing angina 73% higher.”

While the study included a large number of vascular risk factors, no information was available on individual biomarkers, or migraine specifics such as the presence or absence of migraine aura. Further research will therefore be necessary in order to identify the underlying causes responsible for these links, and to develop preventative treatments. The question of whether male migraine sufferers also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease remains to be elucidated. “Migraine has a high prevalence in the general population. Consequently, there is an urgent need to understand the biological mechanisms and processes to provide preventative solutions for patients with migraine.”