Brain Scans, Saliva Tests, and Baby Teeth: Inside the Massive, Government-Funded Effort to Understand How Kids’ Brains Develop

Researchers expect this massive endeavor, receiving $30 million in federal funding per year, will transform our understanding of brain development. Neuroscientists are positively giddy about ABCD, and for good reason: It is larger and more racially and socioeconomically diverse than any comparable study to date. “We’re going to be working with this dataset for decades,” […]

Stable home lives improve prospects for preemies

As they grow and develop, children who were born at least 10 weeks before their due dates are at risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder and anxiety disorders. They also have a higher risk than children who were full-term babies for other neurodevelopmental issues, including cognitive problems, language difficulties and motor delays. Researchers […]

For malnourished children, new therapeutic food boosts gut microbes, healthy development

A new type of therapeutic food, specifically designed to repair the gut microbiomes of malnourished children, is superior to standard therapy in an initial clinical trial conducted in Bangladesh. An interdisciplinary team of investigators from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, have […]

Metcalfe gift supports study of adversity’s effects on children’s brains

Compelled by the potential to improve the lives of vulnerable children, emeritus trustee Walter Metcalfe Jr. and his wife, Cynthia, have made a commitment of nearly $4 million through outright and estate gifts to support the work of Joan L. Luby, MD, a highly regarded child psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. […]

E3 Nutrition Lab Links Child Nutrition, Economics and Evolution

A transdisciplinary laboratory at the Brown School is undertaking research across the world to address “hidden hunger”— poverty-related nutritional deficiencies in mothers and young children. The founder and director of the E3 Nutrition Lab is Lora Iannotti, associate professor and associate dean for public health. The three “E”s represent the lab’s principles for nutrition interventions: […]

Cannabis during pregnancy bumps psychosis risk in offspring

Pregnant women who use cannabis may slightly increase the risk their unborn child will develop psychosis later in life, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis. Fine “Our research shows that prenatal marijuana exposure after maternal knowledge of pregnancy is associated with a small increase in psychosis proneness during middle childhood or about […]

How team sports change a child’s brain

Adult depression has long been associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain region that plays an important role in memory and response to stress. Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis has linked participation in team sports to larger hippocampal volumes in children and less depression in boys ages 9 to 11. […]

Wash U Researchers Discuss Latest Findings About Suicidal Ideation Among Children, Young People

A study released this week by the National Institutes of Health indicates that nearly one-third of Americans between the ages of 10 and 12 “screened positive for suicide risk in emergency department settings.” Meanwhile, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have been studying even younger children who think and talk about suicide – and their […]

Young kids with suicidal thoughts understand concept of death

Depressed children ages 4 to 6 who think and talk about committing suicide understand what it means to die better than other kids, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Such children with suicidal thoughts and words — what psychiatrists call suicidal ideation — were more than three times […]

Scholars highlight impact of early adversity on developing brain, implications for criminal justice

From NPR’s St. Louis Public Radio… The early development of the human brain begins in utero and continues into a person’s early-to-mid-20s. In that time, various environmental factors such as poverty, toxins and violence can influence that development. Among adolescent youth, who are susceptible to engaging in risky behavior, the impact of such stressors can […]

Repetitive behaviors tied to brain activity patterns in toddlers

From Spectrum News… Children who have repetitive behaviors, a core autism trait, show particular patterns of brain activity as early as 1 year of age, according to a new study1. Autistic people have brain activity patterns that differ from those of their typical peers. These differences emerge early in life: A study last year showed […]

Addressing racial disparity in autism outcomes, Washington University seeks to improve diagnosis and intervention for black children

From the St. Louis American… The Center for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network most recently reported that 1 in 59 children, or about 1.7 percent, have an autism spectrum disorder. Historically, African-American children have being identified with autism spectrum disorder at a significantly lower rate than Caucasian children, but this gap has […]

More pregnant women in U.S. smoking pot

From Reuters… Even as alcohol and tobacco use continue to decline among pregnant women in the U.S., a new study offers fresh evidence that more American mothers are using cannabis during pregnancy. Other recent studies have also documented a rise in cannabis use among pregnant women of all ages, with some evidence of particularly sharp […]

Following tragedy, St. Louis hospitals renew commitment to postpartum mental health

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch… While pregnant with her fourth baby, Jerrika Massey felt depressed because her father died before he could meet his newest grandchild. He had always been there for her previous births. Massey didn’t tell anyone she was struggling because “I thought it was something I could handle by myself,” she said. […]

New child maltreatment research center launched with $6.5 million NIH grant

Multidisciplinary center includes Constantino’s research on newborns From the WashU Newsroom… Melissa Jonson-Reid, the Ralph and Muriel Pumphrey Professor of Social Work Research at the Brown School, and her team, including faculty from several disciplines across Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University, have received a five-year, $6,496,050 grant from the National Institutes of Health […]

Diagnosing Depression in Young Kids is Harder, Incredibly Important

Experts agree that preschoolers are entirely capable of suffering from clinical depression. And that this depression is not always the result of abuse or neglect. From Fatherly… Until he began doodling bloody pictures of bleeding necks, April Lisbon wasn’t worried about the mental health of her four-year-old student. As a psychologist working with young children […]

How bacteria can save children’s lives

A ground-breaking new project in Bangladesh could help reduce the life-long health problems that come from childhood malnourishment – by focusing on the gut. From BBC – Future… For decades, undernourished infants across the world have been treated with a course of high-calorie, high-protein rich foods. The foods may come in various forms – from […]

Perfectionism in young children may indicate OCD risk

Study involving behavior, brain scans may help ID issues early in life From the WashU School of Medicine News… Studying young children, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that kids who possess tendencies toward perfectionism and excessive self-control are twice as likely as other children to develop obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) […]

Barch receives $3.5 million for research on brain, mental illness

From the WashU Newsroom… Mental health researcher Deanna Barch, of Washington University in St. Louis, has been awarded a $3.5 million MERIT award from the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Barch Barch is chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences and the Gregory […]

Parent-child therapy helps young children with depression

Early intervention supports kids in processing emotions From the WashU School of Medicine News… Children as young as 3 can be clinically depressed, and often that depression recurs as kids get older and go to school. It also can reappear during adolescence and throughout life. But new research from Washington University School of Medicine in […]

A New Model for Evaluating Stress in Black American Families

From the WashU Brown School News… Societal stressors such as racism and segregation should be considered when studying the impact of stress on the health of African-American families, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University. Building on previous literature, the authors proposed an integrative […]

Policy Report Details Ways to Address Child Mental Health in Uganda

From the WashU Brown School News… At the request of the Parliament of Uganda, a three-part policy report detailing evidence-based policies that would successfully address child and adolescent mental health in the country was issued by the Brown School’s ICHAD (International Center for Child Health and Development), the SMART Africa Center (Strengthening Mental Health and […]

Gordon receives British Royal Society’s highest honor

Illuminated role of gut microbial communities in human health, disease From the WashU Newsroom… Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the 2018 Copley Medal from the Royal Society in Britain. He is being honored for his studies of human gut microbial communities, which have led to a […]

For the Sake of All, community partners unveil new report on segregation in St. Louis

From the WashU Newsroom… A new, 115-page community-driven report on segregation and housing in St. Louis was released April 25 by numerous local partners in the fields of public health, law, fair housing and community development. “Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide” is the product of a collaborative partnership involving For the Sake of […]

Rates of autism continue to rise, new data indicate

Many children still diagnosed late, after age 4 From the WashU Newsroom… New statistics indicate rates of autism in children have continued to increase. However, the rates have increased only modestly, suggesting there may be a leveling off. Still, researchers found that many children aren’t getting diagnosed until age 4 or older. The older a […]

Childhood poverty costs U.S. $1.03 trillion in a year, study finds

Total amounts to 28 percent of the federal budget From the WashU Newsroom… Childhood poverty cost $1.03 trillion in 2015, about 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. These costs are clustered around the loss of […]

3-D mapping babies’ brains

Examining brain folds — as unique to an individual as fingerprints — could hold key to new diagnostic tools From the WashU Newsroom… During the third trimester, a baby’s brain undergoes rapid development in utero. The cerebral cortex dramatically expands its surface area and begins to fold. Previous work suggests that this quick and very vital […]

Can Brain Activity in Infants Predict Psychiatric Disorders?

Neuroimaging may predict risk for depressive and anxiety symptoms in children. From Psychology Today… Young children can demonstrate behaviors predictive of depressive and anxiety disorders. These behaviors correlate with activity in certain brain areas, including the amygdala, a region known to be involved in emotional regulation. It is possible to measure functional connectivity between the amygdala […]

WashU Expert: If you see signs of child abuse, report it

From the WashU Newsroom… David and Louise Turpin have been accused of abusing their 13 children for years inside their California home, a case that has captured international attention. What should you do to try to better recognize signs of abuse in your neighborhood? The bottom line: If you think a child is in danger […]

Combatting ‘disinformation’ about child abuse

New book aims to explain what everyone can do to help kids who need it most From the WashU Newsroom… Children need nurturing, attention to health and basic needs, safety and appropriate supervision. Child abuse and neglect, also called “child maltreatment,” too often endanger the health, well-being and even lives of children. Especially for the […]

Eggs improve biomarkers related to infant brain development

From the WashU Newsroom… Feeding eggs to infants could provide them with key nutrients for better brains. A study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis finds infants who were in introduced to eggs beginning at 6 months showed significantly higher blood concentrations of choline, other biomarkers in choline pathways, and docosahexaenoic acid […]

Mental Health Issues Can Affect Children As Young As Three

From Fix.com… According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 12 million children and teens are not receiving the mental health treatment they need. Mental health disorders like depression often hit people in early adulthood, but now a new report on NBC News explains that serious mental and emotional problems can begin with children as young […]

Generation at risk: America’s youngest facing mental health crisis

From the NBC Newsroom… Alex Crotty was just 11 when things started feeling wrong. It wasn’t just a matter of being unhappy. She always felt empty and miserable — never content or connected to other children. For years, she suffered alone, filled with shame. She switched schools, but that didn’t help. “I didn’t feel unloved. […]

Brain networks that help babies learn to walk ID’d

Autism risk, walking linked via brain connections From the WashU Newsroom… Scientists have identified brain networks involved in a baby’s learning to walk — a discovery that eventually may help predict whether infants are at risk for autism. The findings build on previous research that has shown that babies who have delays in developing skills involved […]

On KPLR 11: Washington University research into brain development; local Rhodes Scholars

(Video) From KPLR 11’s The Pulse of St. Louis Researchers [Drs. Cynthia Rogers and Chad Sylvester] at Washington University are conducting a study that focuses on brain development and anxiety disorders, including social anxiety. Learn about what scientists are doing to develop treatments to help children impacted by the conditions.   Watch the conversation!

The misunderstood social safety net

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch Few topics are more misunderstood than the U.S. social safety net. From Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” to current HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s caricature of a comfortable life in public housing, the safety net and those who use it have been routinely vilified. Just recently in St. Charles, President Donald Trump, […]

‘Journal on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America’ Launches

From the WashU Newsroom… The Collaboration on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America (CRISMA) in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis is pleased to announce the launch of the Journal on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America (JRISMA) with Washington University Libraries. JRISMA features scholarly works in the fields of social work, public health, […]

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation visits The SPOT

Pop star’s organization highlights support the center offers From the WashU Newsroom… Representatives from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation stopped by The SPOT in the Central West End on Thursday, Nov. 16, to celebrate and promote youth empowerment and the importance of positive environments. The foundation is visiting and bringing gifts to selected youth-based nonprofits in cities on Gaga’s […]

Research team developing new pediatric neuroimaging technology

Washington University researchers are developing a new way to look inside the brains of pediatric patients. From the WashU Newsroom… A team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis is developing a new way to look inside the brains of the littlest patients — a technique that will provide precise measurements without requiring children to […]

Obituary: William Landau, professor emeritus, 93

Former head of neurology specialized in movement disorders From the WashU Newsroom… William M. Landau, MD, a professor emeritus of neurology, died in his sleep Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, at his home in University City. He was 93. Landau wasa professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis from 1954 to 2012 […]

In autism, too many brain connections may be at root of condition

Learning, social issues may reflect neuronal miscommunication From the WashU Newsroom… A defective gene linked to autism influences how neurons connect and communicate with each other in the brain, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Rodents that lack the gene form too many connections between brain neurons and have […]

Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens

Study is first to point to brain changes that underlie poor health in some children From the WashU Newsroom… Adverse experiences in childhood — such as the death of a parent, growing up in poverty, physical or sexual abuse, or having a parent with a psychiatric illness — have been associated with physical and mental health […]

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

Surveys over a decade indicate positive behavioral shifts From the WashU Newsroom… More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according to results of a national survey analyzed […]

Conference to focus on early brain development, social outcomes

Universitywide initiative explores intersection of neuroscience and societal issues From the WashU Newsroom… In recent years, research has emerged detailing the detrimental effects of poverty and stress on early brain development. Such societal ills can reshape the human brain and cause lifelong problems in behavior, learning, physical health and mental wellbeing. To explore these connections, Washington […]