Study Title: Telomere length and early severe social deprivation: linking early adversity and cellular aging
Authors: S S Drury, K Theall, M M Gleason, A T Smyke, I De Vivo, J Y Y Wong, N A Fox, C H Zeanah and C A Nelson
Abstract: Accelerated telomere length attrition has been associated with psychological stress and early adversity in adults; however, no studies have examined whether telomere length in childhood is associated with early experiences. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project is a unique randomized controlled trial of foster care placement compared with continued care in institutions. As a result of the study design, participants were exposed to a quantified range of time in institutional care, and represented an ideal population in which to examine the association between a specific early adversity, institutional care and telomere length. We examined the association between average relative telomere length, telomere repeat copy number to single gene copy number (T/S) ratio and exposure to institutional care quantified as the percent of time at baseline (mean age 22 months) and at 54 months of age that each child lived in the institution. A significant negative correlation between T/S ratio and percentage of time was observed. Children with greater exposure to institutional care had significantly shorter relative telomere length in middle childhood. Gender modified this main effect. The percentage of time in institutional care at baseline significantly predicted telomere length in females, whereas the percentage of institutional care at 54 months was strongly predictive of telomere length in males. This is the first study to demonstrate an association between telomere length and institutionalization, the first study to find an association between adversity and telomere length in children, and contributes to the growing literature linking telomere length and early adversity.
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Study Title: Timing of Intervention Affects Brain Electrical Activity in Children Exposed to Severe Psychosocial Neglect
Authors: Ross E. Vanderwert, Peter J. Marshall, Charles A. Nelson III, Charles H. Zeanah, Nathan A. Fox
Early psychosocial deprivation has profound effects on brain activity in the young child. Previous reports have shown increased power in slow frequencies of the electroencephalogram (EEG), primarily in the theta band, and decreased power in higher alpha and beta band frequencies in infants and children who have experienced institutional care.
We assessed the consequences of removing infants from institutions and placing them into a foster care intervention on brain electrical activity when children were 8 years of age. We found the intervention was successful for increasing high frequency EEG alpha power, with effects being most pronounced for children placed into foster care before 24 months of age.
The dependence on age of placement for the effects observed on high frequency EEG alpha power suggests a sensitive period after which brain activity in the face of severe psychosocial deprivation is less amenable to recovery.
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Study Title: The health of children adopted from Romania
Authors: Johnson DE, Miller LC, Iverson S, Thomas W, Franchino B, Dole K, Kiernan MB, Georgieff MK, Hostetter MK
Abstract: This comes from our initial article on Romanian adoptees which clearly showed that children lost one month of linear growth for each month they were institutionalized based on growth lag (chronological age minus height age). Sixty-five Romanian adoptees who were brought to the United States during a 12-month period beginning in October 1990; only 15% were judged to be physically healthy and developmentally normal. Infants’ length, weight, head circumference, and weight-for-height were adversely affected by institutionalization. Older children’s height was reduced. Only 10% of children older than 12 months were developmentally normal. The orphanage environment had a clear and adverse effect on growth during infancy.
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Study Title: Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Uganda; Are Orphans More Malnourished Than Non-Orphans
Author: Lubaale Yovani A. Moses, School of Statistics and Planning formerly Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda
Abstract: Many scholars and policy makers have often said that orphaned children are more vulnerable than any other children within the same environment in which they live. This paper compared the nutrition status of orphans and non-orphans to see if orphans were more malnourished and if not to investigate factors affecting nutrition of children. It is based on the 2006 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey data. The analysis compared orphans and non-orphaned children in relation to the three anthropometric measures of underweight, stunting and wasting limiting itself to -2SD. The findings indicated that orphans (wasting-33.1%, underweight-17.0% and stunted-5.9%) were not more malnourished than non-orphans (wasting-39.2%, underweight-17.2% and stunted-6.5%). Results showed that maternal orphans (48.2%) are affected more in terms of nutritional indicators at least in the short term than paternal orphans (29.0%). The most important determinant on nutrition was the household wealth index and level of education of the mother for children living with their mothers in the same households.
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Authors: Kristen E. Cheney
Abstract: This article considers ways to shift the implementation of children’s rights-based aid approaches from protectionism, which hinders orphans and vulnerable children’s (OVCs) survival strategies, to empowerment in order to transform OVC livelihoods. I emphasize children’s citizenship as a means of increasing OVC participation in policy-making.
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Author: Juma, Milka
Date: March 2013
Abstract: A household survey of male and female adolescents was conducted to establish whether orphanhood or other factors contribute to risky sexual behavior. Results show that orphanhood was not associated with risky sexual behavior. Sleeping in a different house from the household head and attending social activities at night were positively associated with sexual activity and transactional sex among boys and girls. Older adolescents were more likely to be sexually active while urban residents, and those who perceived their caregivers as able to provide for their basic needs, were less likely to have ever engaged in sex. Condom use at last sex was associated with older age and having talked with parents/caregivers about sexual risks. Interventions should address these predictors, promote risk reduction among all adolescents irrespective of orphan status, and strengthen parents’/guardians’ capacity to discuss sexuality with adolescents and to provide for their basic needs.
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Authors: Kyte A, Trocmé N, Chamberland C.
Differential response (DR) models have been implemented internationally since the mid-1990s as an innovative way of responding to child maltreatment. The purpose of the present article is to review the literature on DR and the implications it has for current child welfare research, policy and practice.
A review of DR studies published from 2000 to 2012 available through various social service databases was conducted. DR evaluation reports from various states were also reviewed. Salient factors are reported.
DR does not compromise child safety, positive results have been found with regards to family engagement, worker satisfaction, quicker response times and involvement with community organizations.
Rigorous methodological testing needs to be conducted to further strengthen DR findings.
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Authors: Sinha V, Trocmé N, Fallon B, Maclaurin B.
The overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in child welfare systems in the U.S., Canada, and Australia is well documented, but limited attention has been paid to investigation-stage disproportionality. This paper examines the overrepresentation of First Nations (the largest of three federally recognized Aboriginal groups in Canada) children, focusing on three questions: (1) What is the level/nature of First Nations overrepresentation at the investigation stage? (2) What is known about the source of referrals in child welfare investigations involving First Nations children? (3) What risk factors and child functioning concerns are identified for investigated First Nations children and families?
The First Nations Component of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (FNCIS-2008) was designed to address limitations in existing Aboriginal child welfare data: it sampled one quarter of the Aboriginally governed child welfare agencies that conduct investigations in Canada, gathered data on over 3,000 investigations involving First Nations children, and incorporated weights designed for analysis of First Nations data. Bivariate analyses are used to compare investigations involving First Nations and non-Aboriginal children.
The rate of investigations for First Nations children living in the areas served by sampled agencies was 4.2 times that for non-Aboriginal children; investigation-stage overrepresentation was compounded by each short term case disposition examined. A higher proportion of First Nations than non-Aboriginal investigations involved non-professional referrals, a pattern consistent with disparities in access to alternative services. Workers expressed concerns about multiple caregiver risk factor concerns for more than ½ of investigated First Nations families and, with the exception of “health issues”, identified every caregiver/household risk factor examined in a greater percentage of First Nations than non-Aboriginal households.
It would be extremely difficult to reduce First Nations overrepresentation at later decision points without addressing overrepresentation at the investigation-stage. Despite the serious needs of investigated First Nations families, alternatives to traditional child protection responses may be appropriate in many cases. If First Nations overrepresentation is to be reduced, child welfare agencies must be equipped to provide supports needed to help families address factors such as poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, and lack of social supports.
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Authors: Temcheff CE, Serbin LA, Martin-Storey A, Stack DM, Hastings P, Ledingham J, Schwartzman AE.
Literature suggests that early patterns of aggressive behaviour in both girls and boys are predictive of a variety of health risks in adulthood. However, longitudinal examination of the predictive links between childhood aggression, negative physical health outcomes in adulthood and overall use of health care has not been done. We looked at use of health care and a variety of physical health outcomes in adulthood to extend the current body of knowledge regarding the long-term negative sequelae of childhood aggression.
Participants of the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project were eligible for the current study if they had received medical care in the province of Quebec between 1992 and 2006, and if we were able to retrieve their medical and education records. Our primary outcome was use of the health care system, as determined using records from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec and the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux. Our controlled variables were socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood in which participants lived in 1986 and level of education. We used hierarchical multiple regression to explore the association between childhood behaviour and physical health in adulthood.
During the 15-year period studied, childhood agression corresponded to an increase in medical visits (8.1% per 1 standard deviation increase in agression), and injuries (10.7%) or lifestyle-related illnesses (44.2%), visits to specialists (6.2%) and visits to emergency departments (12.4%). We saw a positive relation between social withdrawal during childhood and government-funded visits to dentists. Peer-rated likeability during childhood showed negative relations with use of health care (overall), medical visits due to injuries and government-funded visits to dentists.
Childhood aggression is a health risk that should be considered when designing interventions to improve public health and diminish the costs of medical services, particularly when considering interventions targeting children and families.
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Authors: McDermott JM, Westerlund A, Zeanah CH, Nelson CA, Fox NA.
Abstract: Early adversity can negatively impact the development of cognitive functions, although little is known about whether such effects can be remediated later in life. The current study examined one facet of executive functioning – inhibitory control – among children who experienced institutional care and explored the impact of a foster care intervention within the context of the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP). Specifically, a go/nogo task was administered when children were eight years old and behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) measures were collected. Results revealed that children assigned to care as usual (i.e. institutional care) were less accurate and exhibited slower neural responses compared to children assigned to the foster care intervention and children who had never been institutionalized. However, children in both the care as usual and foster care groups exhibited diminished attention processing of nogo cues as assessed via P300 amplitude. Foster care children also showed differential reactivity between correct and error responses via the error-related negativity (ERN) as compared to children in the care as usual group. Combined, the results highlight perturbations in neural sources of behavioral and attention problems among children experiencing early adversity. Potential implications for academic adjustment in at risk children are discussed.
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