Maria Kroupina
May 3, 2016

The first years of life are crucial for the developing mind, but mental health services are often not available for infants. The goal of the 0–3 Brain Initiative is to bridge this gap in care. Maria Kroupina, Ph.D., director of the U’s Birth to Three Mental Health Clinical Program, and others are examining the impact of early adversity experiences such as neglect, deprivation, hospitalization, traumatic loss, and more on lifelong health. Kroupina’s 0–3 Brain Initiative is the first in Minnesota and one of only a few nationally to provide infant and toddler mental health services in the context of academic pediatric programs.

Dr. Suma Jacob
April 22, 2016

The University of Minnesota joined with 19 other institutions Thursday to launch the largest autism research study in U.S. history — an online registry of 50,000 patients and their families to uncover how genetic and environmental differences influence the course of the developmental disability. The study itself is simple: people diagnosed with autism and their parents can register online, type in relevant personal and medical information, and receive kits and instructions for sending in saliva samples by mail.

Alicia Kunin-Batson, PhD
April 8, 2016

“Children with elevated anxiety scores at the initiation of consolidation therapy were 4 times more likely to have elevated anxiety scores after treatment, and children with elevated depression scores at 6 months after diagnosis were 8 times more likely to have elevated depression after treatment,” Kunin-Batson wrote. “The rapid identification of anxiety and depressive symptoms and effective interventions directed toward children who exhibit distress (eg, mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches) early in the course of treatment may help to mitigate long-term emotional distress.”

Dr. Kelvin Lim
March 11, 2016

We all know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause a host of long-term problems, including cognitive disabilities; memory loss; motor function limitations; vision impairment; or change in sense of smell, taste or touch. But fewer people are aware of the long-term psychological impact of TBI: People who have experienced head injuries also may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including depression and anxiety, poor impulse control, verbal or physical outbursts, lack of empathy, general apathy or a tendency toward risky behavior. Some of these impacts are lasting; others fade as the brain heals from the trauma.

Dana Johnson photo
February 16, 2016

Dana Johnson, MD, PhD, never fully appreciated the importance of a loving, committed family in normal child development, until he began seeing children from orphanages who had been deprived of all those things.

Johnson, a University of Minnesota Health neonatologist who is also the father of an adopted child, founded the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic in 1986. The clinic’s mission? Support families through the adoption process—and help adoptive children overcome the challenges of early adversity.

This year, the clinic is celebrating its 30th anniversary. 

Jed Elison
January 20, 2016

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost has announced the 2016-18 McKnight Land-Grant Professorships. Jed Elison, Institute of Child Development, is receiving the grant for is work on infant social cognition, the development of the social brain, and the emergence of clinically impairing behaviors during the toddler and preschool-age periods, with a focus on potential biomarkers of autism spectrum disorder. The Professorship includes a research grant of $25,000 in each of the two years of the award, to be used for expenditures related to the recipient’s research/scholarly work.


Maria Kroupina
January 20, 2016

Children who have experienced early social or emotional adversity, including institutionalization or numerous family transitions, are at risk for attachment challenges.

Attachment relationships are special bonds that infants develop with their parents or primary caregiver(s), often in the first year of life. These relationships serve many purposes in a child’s development, and can help a child become more resilient against long-term mental health issues.

Michael Georgieff
January 5, 2016

Once you introduce solid foods to your baby at around 6 months, the pressure is on. No longer will breast milk or formula cover your little one's nutritional bases. Instead, your food selections as a parent are critical. "It's the kids at [ages] 1 to 3 who really make me nervous because they're at the mercy of what the parents are eating," Georgieff says. Some of the most important nutrients for a baby's brain at this stage are iron, zinc, copper, iodine, choline, folate and vitamins A, B12 and D.