J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry [journal]
- Belongings. [Letter]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):825.
- Functional Connectivity of the Amygdala Is Disrupted in Preschool-Aged Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):817-24.
The objective of this study was to determine whether functional connectivity of the amygdala is altered in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to assess the clinical relevance of observed alterations in amygdala connectivity.A resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging study of the amygdala (and a parallel study of primary visual cortex) was conducted in 72 boys (mean age 3.5 years; n = 43 with ASD; n = 29 age-matched controls).The ASD group showed significantly weaker connectivity between the amygdala and several brain regions involved in social communication and repetitive behaviors, including bilateral medial prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, and striatum (p < .05, corrected). Weaker connectivity between the amygdala and frontal and temporal lobes was significantly correlated with increased autism severity in the ASD group (p < .05). In a parallel analysis examining the functional connectivity of primary visual cortex, the ASD group showed significantly weaker connectivity between visual cortex and sensorimotor regions (p < .05, corrected). Weaker connectivity between visual cortex and sensorimotor regions was not correlated with core autism symptoms, but instead was correlated with increased sensory hypersensitivity in the visual/auditory domain (p < .05).These findings indicate that preschool-age children with ASD have disrupted functional connectivity between the amygdala and regions of the brain important for social communication and language, which might be clinically relevant because weaker connectivity was associated with increased autism severity. Moreover, although amygdala connectivity was associated with behavioral domains that are diagnostic of ASD, altered connectivity of primary visual cortex was related to sensory hypersensitivity.
- Altered Prefrontal Cortex Function Marks Heightened Anxiety Risk in Children. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):809-16.
Anxiety disorders are prevalent and cause substantial disability. An important risk factor for anxiety disorders is inhibited temperament, the tendency to be shy and to avoid new situations. Inhibited adults have heightened amygdala activation and less flexible engagement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC); however, it remains unknown whether these brain alterations are present in inhibited children before the onset of anxiety disorders.A total of 37 children (18 inhibited and 19 uninhibited), 8 to 10 years of age, completed a task testing anticipation and viewing of threat stimuli and social stimuli in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Brain activation and functional connectivity were measured.During the anticipation of threat stimuli, inhibited children failed to show the robust PFC engagement observed in the uninhibited children. In contrast, when viewing social stimuli, inhibited children had increased medial PFC and dorsolateral PFC activation. Connectivity analyses revealed a pattern of reduced connectivity between prefrontal and limbic regions and among distinct PFC regions in the inhibited group. The medial PFC emerged as a key hub of the altered PFC circuitry in inhibited children.This study provides new evidence of a neural signature of vulnerability to anxiety disorders. By investigating both anticipation and response to images, we identified that high-risk, inhibited children have widespread alterations in PFC function and connectivity, characterized by an inability to proactively prepare for social threat combined with heightened reactivity to social stimuli. Thus, children at high risk for anxiety show significantly altered prefrontal cortical function and connectivity before the onset of anxiety disorders.
- Reduced Default Mode Connectivity in Adolescents With Conduct Disorder. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):800-808.e1.
Conduct disorder (CD) is characterized by impulsive, aggressive, and antisocial behaviors that might be related to deficits in empathy and moral reasoning. The brain's default mode network (DMN) has been implicated in self-referential cognitive processes of this kind.This study examined connectivity between key nodes of the DMN in 29 adolescent boys with CD and 29 age- and sex-matched typically developing adolescent boys. The authors ensured that group differences in DMN connectivity were not explained by comorbidity with other disorders by systematically controlling for the effects of substance use disorders (SUDs), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, psychopathic traits, and other common mental health problems.Only after adjusting for co-occurring ADHD symptoms, the group with CD showed hypoconnectivity between core DMN regions compared with typically developing controls. ADHD symptoms were associated with DMN hyperconnectivity. There was no effect of psychopathic traits on DMN connectivity in the group with CD, and the key results were unchanged when controlling for SUDs and other common mental health problems.Future research should directly investigate the possibility that the aberrant DMN connectivity observed in the present study contributes to CD-related deficits in empathy and moral reasoning and examine self-referential cognitive processes in CD more generally.
- Lack of Gender-Related Differences in Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):792-9.
Gender differences, including younger age of onset and greater premorbid deficits in men, have been reported in adult-onset schizophrenia. This study comprehensively evaluated gender differences in childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS), a rare variant of the disorder.Demographic, premorbid, clinical, familial, and cognitive characteristics, presence of chromosomal abnormalities, and brain magnetic resonance imaging cortical volumes were evaluated in 133 patients with COS. Cortical analyses included age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers (n = 124).Males with COS (n = 72) had a slightly but significantly younger age of onset than females with COS (mean age 9.51 ± 2.28 versus 10.29 ± 1.63 years, t131 = 2.21, p = .03), higher verbal IQ scores (83.00 ± 15.97 versus 75.58 ± 15.10, t89 = 2.24, p = .03), and higher rates of comorbid pervasive developmental disorder (28.17% versus 6.90%, χ(2)1 = 9.54, p < .01) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (43.86% versus 21.43%, χ(2)1 = 5.40, p = .02). There were no significant gender differences across other demographic, IQ, or clinical measurements, frequency of chromosomal abnormalities, family clinical measurements, premorbid functioning, or in gender-by-disorder interactions for magnetic resonance imaging brain measurements.The present comprehensive examination found few remarkable gender differences in COS. Although less striking than that seen in adult-onset schizophrenia, males with COS had a younger age of onset. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and pervasive developmental disorder rates were high in COS overall, suggesting greater neurodevelopmental vulnerability in COS. However, the gender ratios of these comorbidities in COS mirror those of the general populations, indicating that these gender differences might be unrelated to COS.
- Prenatal Maternal Smoking and Increased Risk for Tourette Syndrome and Chronic Tic Disorders. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):784-91.
We assessed the role of prenatal maternal smoking in risk for Tourette syndrome and chronic tic disorder (TS/CT) and pediatric-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).In an analysis of 73,073 singleton pregnancies from the Danish National Birth Cohort, we calculated incidence rates (IR) per 1,000 person-year for TS/CT and OCD. We then determined crude and adjusted hazard ratios and 95% CIs associated with prenatal maternal smoking, considering smoking as a dichotomous (yes/no) variable or a stratified variable (no smoking, light smoking, and heavy smoking [≥10 cigarettes/day]). Additional analyses examined the effect of maternal smoking on risk for TS/CT with other comorbid psychiatric conditions.In final adjusted analyses, heavy smoking was associated with a 66% increased risk for TS/CT (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.17-2.35). In addition, heavy smoking was associated with a 2-fold increased risk for TS/CT with comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and both light and heavy smoking were associated with a more than 2-fold increased risk for TS/CT with any non-ADHD psychiatric comorbidity. Our parallel analyses of pediatric-onset OCD were likely underpowered but showed similar relationships.Prenatal maternal smoking was associated with increased risk for TS/CT as well as TS/CT with comorbid psychiatric conditions, even after adjustment for several important variables, including maternal psychiatric history, socioeconomic status, and partner smoking. Our findings point to a pathway linking prenatal tobacco exposure and altered brain development to TS/CT.
- Correlates of Mental Illness and Wellbeing in Children: Are They the Same? Results From the UK Millennium Cohort Study. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):771-83.
To investigate a framework of correlates of both mental illness and wellbeing in a large, current, and nationally representative sample of children in the United Kingdom.An ecologic framework of correlates including individual (sociodemographic and human capital), family, social, and wider environmental factors were examined in 12,347 children aged 11 years old from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Mental illness and wellbeing scores were standardized to allow comparisons, and the variance explained by the different predictors was estimated.Mental illness and wellbeing were weakly correlated in children (r = 0.2), and their correlates were similar in some instances (e.g., family structure, sibling bullying, peer problems) but differed in others (e.g., family income, perceived socioeconomic status, cognitive ability, health status, neighborhood safety). The predictors included in the study explained 47% of the variance in symptoms of mental illness, with social relationships, home environment, parent health, cognitive ability, socioeconomic status, and health factors predicting large amounts of variance. A comparatively lower 26% of the variance in wellbeing was explained by the study variables, with wider environment, social relationships, perceived socioeconomic status, and home environment predicting the most variance.Correlates of children's mental illness and wellbeing are largely distinct, stressing the importance of considering these concepts separately and avoiding their conflation. This study highlights the relevance of these findings for understanding social gradients in mental health through the life course and the conceptualization and development of mental illness and wellbeing in childhood as precursors to lifelong development in these domains.
- A Randomized Controlled Trial of a School-Implemented School-Home Intervention for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Impairment. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):762-70.
This study evaluated the efficacy of a novel psychosocial intervention (Collaborative Life Skills [CLS]) for primary-school students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. CLS is a 12-week program consisting of integrated school, parent, and student treatments delivered by school-based mental health providers. Using a cluster randomized design, CLS was compared with usual school/community services on psychopathology and functional outcomes.Schools within a large urban public school district were randomly assigned to CLS (12 schools) or usual services (11 schools). Approximately 6 students participated at each school (N = 135, mean age 8.4 years, grade range 2-5, 71% boys). Using PROC GENMOD (SAS 9.4), the difference between the means of CLS and usual services for each outcome at posttreatment was tested. To account for clustering effects by school, the generalized estimating equation method was used.Students from schools assigned to CLS compared with those assigned to usual services had significantly greater improvement on parent and teacher ratings of ADHD symptom severity and organizational functioning, teacher-rated academic performance, and parent ratings of oppositional defiant disorder symptoms and social/interpersonal skills.These results support the efficacy of CLS compared with typical school and community practices for decreasing ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms and improving key areas of functional impairment. They further suggest that existing school-based mental health resources can be redeployed from non-empirically supported practices to those with documented efficacy. This model holds promise for improving access to efficient evidence-based treatment for inattentive and disruptive behavior beyond the clinic setting. Clinical Trial Registration Information-Study of the Collaborative Life Skills Program; http://clinicaltrials.gov/; NCT01686724.
- Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation: Results of a Statewide Random-Controlled Evaluation. [Journal Article]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):754-61.
Despite recent federal recommendations calling for increased funding for early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) as a means to decrease preschool expulsions, no randomized-controlled evaluations of this form of intervention have been reported in the scientific literature. This study is the first attempt to isolate the effects of ECMHC for enhancing classroom quality, decreasing teacher-rated behavior problems, and decreasing the likelihood of expulsion in targeted children in early childhood classrooms.The sample consisted of 176 target children (3-4 years old) and 88 preschool classrooms and teachers randomly assigned to receive ECMHC through Connecticut's statewide Early Childhood Consultation Partnership (ECCP) or waitlist control treatment. Before randomization, teachers selected 2 target children in each classroom whose behaviors most prompted the request for ECCP. Evaluation measurements were collected before and after treatment, and child behavior and social skills and overall quality of the childcare environment were assessed. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to evaluate the effectiveness of ECCP and to account for the nested structure of the study design.Children who received ECCP had significantly lower ratings of hyperactivity, restlessness, externalizing behaviors, problem behaviors, and total problems compared with children in the control group even after controlling for gender and pretest scores. No effects were found on likelihood of expulsion and quality of childcare environment.ECCP resulted in significant decreases across several domains of teacher-rated externalizing and problem behaviors and is a viable and potentially cost-effective means for infusing mental health services into early childhood settings. Clinical and policy implications for ECMHC are discussed.
- The Origins of Tourette Syndrome: Prenatal Risk Factors and the Promise of Birth Cohort Studies. [Editorial]
- J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2016 Sep; 55(9):751-3.