"Growth deficiency is a defining feature of FASD and typically babies and children with FASD have short stature and low weight," explained Jeffrey R. Wozniak, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, as well as corresponding author for the study. "...a number of FASD investigators have consistently heard from families that weight gain is a problem in adolescence and adulthood in some patients, and we thought it was important to examine this further."
Neglect is difficult to study. Researchers normally can't control a child's environment, and they usually don't know what harm a child has experienced before he or she appears in the clinic. This is especially true for children living in poverty, says Gunnar, who sees many of them. “We can use fancy statistics to try to isolate the early effects from continuing and ongoing adversity,” but the results are uncertain.
Minnesota groundwater contains some of the highest naturally occurring manganese levels in North America and that metal makes its way into the state’s drinking water. Although an essential trace nutrient, manganese has the potential to produce adverse neurological changes. Emerging evidence from other countries suggests that even low levels of environmental exposure in school-age children may affect their neurodevelopment.
For her field-shaping contributions to the study of risk and resilience among children, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents unanimously approved the appointment of Ann Masten as Regents Professor at its June meeting. She joins a select group of 30 professors at the U of M who have earned this highest faculty honor.
In a report broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) on Tuesday, June 25, Megan Gunnar, Regents Professor and director at the Institute of Child Development, emphasized the value of quality pre-K programs, not only for their effect on later academic achievement, but also for their effect on the development of children's overall and life-long social and decision making skills.
The Association for Psychological Science has named Megan Gunnar, Regents Professor, Director of the Institute of Child Development, and CNBD Associate Director, the 2014 recipient of the APS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement. APS recently established this annual award to recognize and to honor members of the discipline who masterfully help students and others discover and pursue their own career and research goals.
The right timing can make all the difference. And where children’s brain development is concerned, University of Minnesota researchers are finding that particularly important.
“The earlier you intervene, the bigger impact you can have,” says Michael Georgieff, M.D., director of the University’s Center for Neurobehavioral Development and a neonatologist at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. “You’re laying the foundation for a healthy adult mental life.”
Today autism spectrum disorders can be reasonably diagnosed by a child’s third or fourth birthday, but researchers want to see if they can be predicted even earlier, well before language and behavioral symptoms typically arise. Early diagnosis and intervention can help kids with ASDs navigate how to learn, play, and interact with others as they grow.