Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Malnutrition in early years leads to low IQ and later antisocial behavior

12.11.2004


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 USC’s Social Science Research Institute and the lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry’s 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 sample of boys and girls included children with Indian, Creole, Chinese, English and French ethnicities.

Researchers assessed their nutrition at age 3, looking for four indicators in particular:

  • angular stomatitis, or cracking in the lips and corners of the mouth that is caused by a deficiency of the B vitamin riboflavin;
  • hair dyspigmentation, a condition – found primarily in tropical regions – where children’s hair takes on a reddish-orange color due to protein deficiency;
  • sparse, thin hair created by a deficiency in protein, zinc and iron; and
  • anemia, which reflects iron deficiency.

The children’s 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 USC’s 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. It’s not just a problem in the far-away Indian Ocean," Raine said. "If it’s causal, there’s 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. "There’s 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!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>