School exclusion ‘leads to long-term mental health problems’

Children who are excluded from school are more vulnerable to long-term psychiatric problems and psychological distress | OnMedica

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Researchers studied responses from more than 5,000 children, parents and teachers which were taken from child and adolescent mental health surveys collected by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health.

They found a “bi-directional association” between psychological distress and exclusion. Children with psychological distress were more likely to be excluded but the study suggests that their exclusion acted as a predictor of increased psychological distress three years later on.

The team confirmed that more children with conditions such as ADHD, depression, anxiety and those on the autism spectrum were more likely to be excluded.

It also found that there were more children with mental health disorders among those who had been excluded than those who had not.

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Very preterm birth not associated with mood & anxiety disorders

Do very-preterm or very-low-weight babies develop anxiety and mood disorders later in life? Researchers have concluded a study to answer this question | ScienceDaily

The team studied nearly 400 individuals from birth to adulthood. Half of the participants had been born before 32 weeks gestation or at a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds), and the other half had been born at term and normal birth weight. They assessed each participant when they were 6, 8 and 26 years old using detailed clinical interviews of psychiatric disorders.

“Previous research has reported increased risks for anxiety and mood disorders, but these studies were based on small samples and did not include repeated assessments for over 20 years,”

Their results? At age 6, children were not at an increased risk of any anxiety or mood disorders, but by age 8 — after they had entered school — more children had an anxiety disorder. By 26, there was a tendency to have more mood disorders like depression, but the findings were not meaningfully different between the two groups.

This study is the first investigation of anxiety and mood disorders in childhood and adulthood using clinical diagnoses in a large whole-population study of very preterm and very-low-birth-weight individuals as compared to individuals born at term.

The team also found that having a romantic partner who is supportive is an important factor for good mental health because it helps protect one from developing anxiety or depression. However, the study found fewer very-preterm-born adults had a romantic partner and were more withdrawn socially.

How mental health can be affected at various stages of development

Children’s mental health will be affected by different factors and in different ways as they develop. Here, the Centre for Mental Health summarises  some of these key factors, taken from their report Missed Opportunities.

0-4 years

Good mental health, wellbeing and cognitive development in under five year olds is shaped very early on from the first spark of life in the womb and is affected by multiple complex genetic and environmental factors.

5-10 years

Schools are the biggest single influence on a child’s mental health after their family. Schools can either enhance or undermine a child’s mental health and it is essential they know how to help.

11-15 years

Adolescence is a period of significant neurodevelopmental change for most children. While adolescence and early adulthood are a period of our best physical health, it is also the peak period for the development of mental health problems.

16-25 years

75% of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem will have experienced their first symptoms by the age of 24. Evidence shows that common mental health conditions that first emerge in adolescence have a higher chance of persistence into young adult years if not quickly treated and contained.

More detail at Centre for Mental Health

Antidepressant use in early pregnancy does not increase autism & ADHD risk in kids

Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily

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A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.

The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.

Read the full commentary here

The original research abstract is available here

Relationship Between Predictors of Incident Deliberate Self-Harm and Suicide Attempts

Huang, Y-S. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: 31 January 2017

Purpose: Data on the incidence of deliberate self-harm (DSH) and suicide attempts (SAs) are lacking in non-Western adolescents, and no studies have investigated differences in incident DSH and SA worldwide. This study aimed to investigate the incidence rates and relationships between predictors in DSH and SA.

Conclusions: The incidence rates of DSH and SA were similar to those reported in Western countries. The predictors of incident DSH and SA were similar but not identical. Our results highlight the risk factors which should be considered in terms of early identification and intervention among adolescents to prevent suicidality.

Read the full abstract here