About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children Could Signal Future Mental Health Problems

by Adeline Dorcas on March 30, 2019 at 11:28 AM
Font : A-A+

Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children Could Signal Future Mental Health Problems

Gastrointestinal complaints in children could be a warning sign for future mental health problems, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

A Columbia University study has found that adversity early in life is associated with increased gastrointestinal symptoms in children that may have an impact on the brain and behavior as they grow to maturity.

Advertisement


"One common reason children show up at doctors' offices is intestinal complaints," said Nim Tottenham, a professor of psychology at Columbia and senior author on the study. "Our findings indicate that gastrointestinal symptoms in young children could be a red flag to primary care physicians for future emotional health problems."

Scientists have long noted the strong connection between the gut and brain. Previous research has demonstrated that a history of trauma or abuse has been reported in up to half of the adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), at a prevalence twice that of patients without IBS.
Advertisement

"The role of trauma in increasing vulnerability to both gastrointestinal and mental health symptoms is well established in adults but rarely studied in childhood," said study lead author Bridget Callaghan, a post-doctoral research fellow in Columbia's psychology department. In addition, she said, animal studies have demonstrated that adversity-induced changes in the gut microbiome - the community of bacteria in the body that regulates everything from digestion to immune system function-influence neurological development, but no human studies have done so.

"Our study is among the first to link disruption of a child's gastrointestinal microbiome triggered by early-life adversity with brain activity in regions associated with emotional health," Callaghan said.

The researchers focused on development in children who experienced extreme psychosocial deprivation due to institutional care before international adoption. Separation of a child from a parent is known to be a powerful predictor of mental health issues in humans. That experience, when modeled in rodents, induces fear and anxiety, hinders neurodevelopment and alters microbial communities across the lifespan.

The research team drew upon data from 115 children adopted from orphanages or foster care on or before approximately they were 2 years old, and from 229 children raised by a biological caregiver. The children with past caregiving disruptions showed higher levels of symptoms that included stomach aches, constipation, vomiting and nausea.

From that sample of adoptees, the researchers then selected eight participants, ages 7 to 13, from the adversity exposed group and another eight who'd been in the group raised by their biological parents. Tottenham and Callaghan collected behavioral information, stool samples and brain images from all the children. They used gene sequencing to identify the microbes present in the stool samples and examined the abundance and diversity of bacteria in each participant's fecal matter.

The children with a history of early caregiving disruptions had distinctly different gut microbiomes from those raised with biological caregivers from birth. Brain scans of all the children also showed that brain activity patterns were correlated with certain bacteria. For example, the children raised by parents had increased gut microbiome diversity, which is linked to the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain known to help regulate emotions.

"It is too early to say anything conclusive, but our study indicates that adversity-associated changes in the gut microbiome are related to brain function, including differences in the regions of the brain associated with emotional processing," says Tottenham, an expert in emotional development.

More research is needed, but Tottenham and Callaghan believe their study helps to fill in an important gap in the literature.

"Animal studies tell us that dietary interventions and probiotics can manipulate the gut microbiome and ameliorate the effects of adversity on the central nervous system, especially during the first years of life when the developing brain and microbiome are more plastic," Callaghan says. "It is possible that this type of research will help us to know if and how to best intervene in humans, and when."

Callaghan and Tottenham are currently working on a larger-scale study with 60 children in New York City to see if their findings can be replicated. They expect the results later this year.

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Ways to Manage Stress during COVID-19 Pandemic
Can Adjusting Fatty Acid Intake Improve Mood in Bipolar Disorder Patients?
Insulin Resistance Doubles the Risk of Major Depressive Disorder
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Adolescence Depression Anxiety Disorder Height and Weight-Kids Reiki-A Holistic Healing Method Flowers And What They Mean To Us Health Insurance - India Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Mental Health - Neurosis vs Psychosis Personality Disorder Understanding the Role of Love in Mental Health 

Recommended Reading
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort and a fluctuating ......
Stress Responsible for Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children With Autism
Increased stress hormone response is responsible for gastrointestinal symptoms in children with ......
Study Finds Gastric Problems Prevalent in Autistic Kids
Parents reveal that children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) often face ......
Exercise Promotes Gastrointestinal Health
A study suggests that exercise to improve cardiorespiratory fitness may support gut health by ......
Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder involves excessive worry about actual circumstances, events or conflicts. Anyone ca...
Flowers And What They Mean To Us
Flowers can be used as infusion for treating digestive disorders or they can be used as poultice for...
Health Insurance - India
Health insurance has emerged as one of the fastest growing segments in the non-life insurance indust...
Mental Health - Neurosis vs Psychosis
Mental well-being is a concern and abnormal coping of emotions can lead to neurosis or psychosis. Me...
Personality Disorder
Personality disorder is a type of mental illness that can strain relationships at work or home, but ...
Understanding the Role of Love in Mental Health
Love plays a crucial role in our mental health. Love that comes from a friend, a partner, a sibling,...
Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a psychological measure of human intelligence. Regular physical and me...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use