Malnutrition in the first few years of life leads to antisocial and aggressive behavior throughout childhood and late adolescence, according to a new University of Southern California study.
"These are the first findings to show that malnutrition in the early postnatal years is associated with behavior problems through age 17," said Jianghong Liu, a postdoctoral fellow with USCs Social Science Research Institute and the lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatrys November issue.
"Identifying the early risk factors for this behavior in childhood and adolescence is an important first step for developing successful prevention programs for adult violence," she said. For 14 years, researchers followed the nutritional, behavioral and cognitive development of more than 1,000 children who lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa.
The childrens intelligence level and cognitive ability were also tested, and social workers visited their homes to come up with a so-called adversity score that summarized factors such as the income, occupation, health, age and education levels of their parents and their overall living conditions.
At ages 8, 11 and 17 years, the researchers looked at how the children were behaving in school and at home.
At age 8, teachers gave feedback about whether the subjects were acting out in school with behavior ranging from irritability to picking fights with other children.
At age 11, the feedback came from parents who told researchers about whether their children lied, cheated, got into fights, bullied others, destroyed property or used obscene language.
At age 17, both parents and teachers reported on antisocial behavior such as stealing, drug use, destroying property or being deliberately cruel to others.
Over time, a link became evident between malnourishment and antisocial or aggressive behavior, said Adrian Raine, a co-author of the study and holder of the Robert Grandford Wright Professorship in Psychology in USCs College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Compared to those in the control group – the group that did not suffer from nutritional deficiencies – malnourished children showed a 41 percent increase in aggression at age 8, a 10 percent increase in aggression and delinquency at age 11 and a 51 percent increase in violent and antisocial behavior at age 17.
While social class did not play a significant factor in behavior, intelligence level did, Raine said. "Poor nutrition, characterized by zinc, iron, vitamin B and protein deficiencies, leads to low IQ, which leads to later antisocial behavior," he said. "These are all nutrients linked to brain development."
Researchers also found that the more indicators of malnutrition there were, the greater the antisocial behavior. The findings have implications for the United States, Raine said, where 7 percent of toddlers suffer from iron deficiency, a number that jumps to between 9 percent and 16 percent in adolescent and female groups.
Iron deficiency is between 19 percent and 22 percent in black and Mexican American females, he said. "This is a problem in America. Its not just a problem in the far-away Indian Ocean," Raine said. "If its causal, theres an intervention implication there. At a societal level, should parents be thinking more about what kids are eating?"
The study also casts antisocial behavior in a light where it may be preventable. "Theres more to antisocial behavior than nutrition, but we argue that it is an important missing link," Raine said. "Biology is not destiny. We can change the biological disposition to antisocial and aggressive behavior."
The other authors were Sarnoff A. Mednick, a professor of psychology in USC College and director of the USC Social Science Research Institute, and Peter H. Venables, a professor of psychology at the University of York, England.
Usha Sutliff | EurekAlert!
New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
29.09.2016 | Event News
28.09.2016 | Event News
27.09.2016 | Event News
29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences
29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences
29.09.2016 | Interdisciplinary Research