[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to understand and make inferences about other people's intentions, feelings, and beliefs. Although children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are known to have deficits in social-cognitive function, little is known about ToM in FASD. ToM ability was assessed using a developmentally sensitive ToM battery, including the reading the mind in the eyes (RME) test, a measure of mental inferential ability that has been found to be impaired in other clinical populations. IQ and executive function (EF) were assessed as potential mediating variables. The battery was administered to 63 children (aged 9 to 11 years) from Cape Town, South Africa, whose mothers had been prospectively recruited during pregnancy. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS; n = 8) and partial FAS (PFAS; n = 19), as well as nonsyndromal heavily exposed children (n = 17), were compared to children born to abstaining or light drinkers (n = 19) from the same community. No FASD group differences were found on the less challenging ToM tasks. By contrast, children with FAS and PFAS performed more poorly than controls on a more challenging ToM task, the RME test. A continuous measure of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) was more sensitive than FASD diagnosis in that it was related to 4 higher-order ToM measures, particularly the ability to attribute mental states assessed on RME. IQ only partially mediated the effect of exposure on RME performance, and these effects were not mediated by EF. Hence, the data suggest that these ToM measures tap into a specific alcohol-related social-cognitive deficit that does not merely reflect poorer EF. FASD diagnosis and PAE were each also related to RME after control for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These findings suggest that deficits in higher-order ToM function may play a significant role in the social-cognitive behavioral impairment in FASD.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Consistent localization of cerebellar cortex in a standard coordinate system is important for functional studies and detection of anatomical alterations in studies of morphometry. To date, no pediatric cerebellar atlas is available.
The probabilistic Cape Town Pediatric Cerebellar Atlas (CAPCA18) was constructed in the age-appropriate National Institute of Health Pediatric Database asymmetric template space using manual tracings of 16 cerebellar compartments in 18 healthy children (9-13 years) from Cape Town, South Africa. The individual atlases of the training subjects were also used to implement multi atlas label fusion using multi atlas majority voting (MAMV) and multi atlas generative model (MAGM) approaches. Segmentation accuracy in 14 test subjects was compared for each method to 'gold standard' manual tracings.
Spatial overlap between manual tracings and CAPCA18 automated segmentation was 73% or higher for all lobules in both hemispheres, except VIIb and X. Automated segmentation using MAGM yielded the best segmentation accuracy over all lobules (mean Dice Similarity Coefficient 0.76; range 0.55-0.91; mean Hausdorff distance 0.9mm; range 0.8-2.7mm).
Comparison with existing methods:
In all lobules, spatial overlap of CAPCA18 segmentations with manual tracings was similar or higher than those obtained with SUIT (spatially unbiased infra-tentorial template), providing additional evidence of the benefits of an age appropriate atlas. MAGM segmentation accuracy was comparable to values reported recently by Park et al. (2014) in adults (across all lobules mean DSC=0.73, range 0.40-0.89).
CAPCA18 and the associated multi-subject atlases of the training subjects yield improved segmentation of cerebellar structures in children.
No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Neuroscience Methods
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alcoholism is a debilitating disorder that can take a significant toll on health and professional and personal relationships. Excessive alcohol consumption can have a serious impact on both drinkers and developing fetuses, leading to long-term learning impairments. Decades of research in laboratory animals and humans have demonstrated the value of eyeblink classical conditioning (EBC) as a well-characterized model system to study the neural mechanisms underlying associative learning. Behavioral EBC studies in adults with alcohol use disorders and in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders report a clear learning deficit in these two patient populations, suggesting alcohol-related damage to the cerebellum and associated structures. Insight into the neural mechanisms underlying these learning impairments has largely stemmed from laboratory animal studies. In this mini-review, we present and discuss exemplary animal findings and data from patient and neuroimaging studies. An improved understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying learning deficits in EBC related to alcoholism and prenatal alcohol exposure has the potential to advance the diagnoses, treatment, and prevention of these and other pediatric and adult disorders.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Frontiers in Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
This study investigated trajectories of alcohol use and binge drinking among Inuit women starting from a year before pregnancy until a year after delivery, examined transition rates between time periods, and established whether specific factors could be identified as predictors of changes in alcohol behaviors.
Drinking trajectories and movement among alcohol users and binge drinkers (i.e. non-binging and binging) were explored by Markov modeling across time periods. Two hundred and forty-eight Inuit women from Arctic Quebec were interviewed at mid-pregnancy, and at 1 and 11 months postpartum to obtain descriptive data on alcohol use during the year before pregnancy, the conception period, the pregnancy and the year after delivery.
The proportions of drinkers and bingers were 73 and 54% during the year prior to pregnancy and 62 and 33% after delivery. Both alcohol use and binge drinking trajectories demonstrated a significant drop in prevalence between the year before conception to the conception period. We also noted high probabilities of becoming an abstainer or not binging at this time. However, up to 60% of women continued to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Women in couples and not consuming marijuana were more likely to decrease their binge drinking at conception.
This study emphasizes the importance of including the period around conception in the definition of drinking patterns during pregnancy. The importance of considering alcohol consumption in a multidimensional way (personal, familial and social determinants) is also addressed while trying to minimize problems both for the fetus and the mother.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Alcohol and Alcoholism
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large proportion of Inuit children in Arctic Quebec are adopted in accordance with traditional Inuit customs. In contrast to adoptions in Southern Canada and the United States, the child is adopted at birth and by a close family member; he or she knows who his or her biological parents are, and will typically have contact with them. Studies of other populations have reported an increased incidence of behavior problems in adopted compared with nonadopted children. This study examined the actual extent of the increase in the number of behavior problems seen in Inuit children adopted in accordance with traditional customs. In a prospective longitudinal study conducted in the Canadian Arctic (n = 46 adopted and 231 nonadopted children), prenatal and familial variables were documented at birth and at school age (M = 11.3 years). Behavior problems were assessed on the Teacher Report Form of the Child Behavior Checklist. Adopted children lived in more economically disadvantaged families, but their caregivers were less prone to depression, domestic violence, or alcohol abuse compared with those of the nonadopted children. The adoption status was not related to the teacher's report of attention problems, externalizing or internalizing behaviors, after controlling for confounders. Despite less favorable socioeconomic circumstances, a higher extent of behavioral problems was not seen at school age in Inuit children adopted at birth by a family member. Psychosocial stressors associated with adoption are more likely to be responsible for an association with higher levels of childhood behavior problems rather than adoption per se. (PsycINFO Database Record
(c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
No preview · Article · May 2015 · American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Number processing deficits are frequently seen in children prenatally exposed to alcohol. Although the parietal lobe, which is known to mediate several key aspects of number processing, has been shown to be structurally impaired in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), effects on functional activity in this region during number processing have not previously been investigated. This fMRI study of 49 children examined differences in activation associated with prenatal alcohol exposure in five key parietal regions involved in number processing, using tasks involving simple addition and magnitude comparison. Despite generally similar behavioral performance, in both tasks greater prenatal alcohol exposure was related to less activation in an anterior section of the right horizontal intraparietal sulcus known to mediate mental representation and manipulation of quantity. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome and partial fetal alcohol syndrome appeared to compensate for this deficit by increased activation of the angular gyrus during the magnitude comparison task.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Previous studies using the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version (CVLT-C) to examine effects of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure on verbal learning and memory have reported impaired information acquisition (i.e., encoding), rather than retrieval, as the primary mechanism underlying learning and memory impairment. We administered the CVLT-C to 2 independent cohorts to determine whether (i) effects on encoding are also seen at moderate exposure levels, using both categorical (diagnostic/exposure group) and continuous exposure measures; (ii) these deficits are specific or secondary to alcohol-related impairment in IQ; (iii) effects on retrieval can be detected over and above effects on initial encoding; and (iv) effects on learning are attributable to less efficient learning strategy use.
We administered the CVLT-C and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children to 151 Cape Town heavy and nonexposed children (M = 10.3 years), and 291 Detroit adolescents recruited to over-represent moderate-to-heavy prenatal alcohol exposure (M = 14.4 years).
Effects on encoding in the heavily exposed Cape Town cohort and on retrieval in both cohorts were significant after adjustment for IQ. Although effects on retrieval were no longer significant in Cape Town after control for initial encoding, effects on recognition memory continued to be evident in Detroit. Children with full or partial fetal alcohol syndrome were less able to use the semantic cluster encoding strategy implicit in the CVLT-C.
Effects on verbal learning were seen primarily in the more heavily exposed Cape Town cohort; effects on recall and recognition memory were also seen at moderate exposure levels in Detroit. These effects were not attributable to alcohol-related impairment in overall intellectual competence. The finding that effects on retention continued to be evident after statistical adjustment for initial encoding in Detroit suggests that a fetal alcohol-related deficit in retrieval is not secondary to a failure to encode the initial information. These data confirm that this impairment in initial learning is mediated, in part, by failure to use the semantic cluster learning strategy.
No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although prenatal methylmercury exposure has been linked to poorer intellectual function in several studies, data from two major prospective, longitudinal studies yielded contradictory results. Associations with cognitive deficits were reported in a Faroe Islands cohort, but few were found in a study in the Seychelles Islands. It has been suggested that co-exposure to another contaminant, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), may be responsible for the positive findings in the former study and that co-exposure to nutrients in methylmercury-contaminated fish may have obscured and/or protected against adverse effects in the latter.
To determine the degree to which co-exposure to PCBs may account for the adverse effects of methylmercury and the degree to which co-exposure to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may obscure these effects in a sample of Inuit children in Arctic Québec.
IQ was estimated in 282 school-age children from whom umbilical cord blood samples had been obtained and analyzed for mercury and other environmental exposures.
Prenatal mercury was related to poorer estimated IQ after adjustment for potential confounding variables. The entry of DHA into the model significantly strengthened the association with mercury, supporting the hypothesis that beneficial effects from DHA intake can obscure adverse effects of mercury exposure. Children with cord mercury ≥ 7.5 μg/L were four times as likely to have an IQ score below 80, the clinical cut-off for borderline intellectual disability. Co-exposure to PCBs did not alter the association of mercury with IQ.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to document an association of prenatal mercury exposure with poorer performance on a school-age assessment of IQ, a measure whose relevance for occupational success in adulthood is well established. This association was seen at levels in the range within which many U.S. children of Asian American background are exposed.
Preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Environmental Health Perspectives
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives:
We examined the relation of household crowding to food insecurity among Inuit families with school-aged children in Arctic Quebec.
We analyzed data collected between October 2005 and February 2010 from 292 primary caregiver-child dyads from 14 Inuit communities. We collected information about household conditions, food security, and family socioeconomic characteristics by interviews. We used logistic regression models to examine the association between household crowding and food insecurity.
Nearly 62% of Inuit families in the Canadian Arctic resided in more crowded households, placing them at risk for food insecurity. About 27% of the families reported reducing the size of their children's meals because of lack of money. The likelihood of reducing the size of children's meals was greater in crowded households (odds ratio=3.73; 95% confidence interval=1.96, 7.12). After we adjusted for different socioeconomic characteristics, results remained statistically significant.
Interventions operating across different levels (community, regional, national) are needed to ensure food security in the region. Targeting families living in crowded conditions as part of social and public health policies aiming to reduce food insecurity in the Arctic could be beneficial.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · American Journal of Public Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Classical eyeblink conditioning (EBC), an elemental form of learning, is among the most sensitive indicators of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The cerebellum plays a key role in maintaining timed movements with millisecond accuracy required for EBC. Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to identify cerebellar regions that mediate timing in healthy controls and the degree to which these areas are also recruited in children with prenatal alcohol exposure.
fMRI data were acquired during an auditory rhythmic/non-rhythmic finger tapping task. We present results for 17 children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or partial FAS, 17 heavily exposed (HE) nonsyndromal children and 16 non- or minimally exposed controls.
Controls showed greater cerebellar blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activation in right crus I, vermis IV-VI, and right lobule VI during rhythmic than non-rhythmic finger tapping. The alcohol-exposed children showed smaller activation increases during rhythmic tapping in right crus I than the control children and the most severely affected children with either FAS or PFAS showed smaller increases in vermis IV-V. Higher levels of maternal alcohol intake per occasion during pregnancy were associated with reduced activation increases during rhythmic tapping in all four regions associated with rhythmic tapping in controls.
The four cerebellar areas activated by the controls more during rhythmic than non-rhythmic tapping have been implicated in the production of timed responses in several previous studies. These data provide evidence linking binge-like drinking during pregnancy to poorer function in cerebellar regions involved in timing and somatosensory processing needed for complex tasks requiring precise timing.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Clinical neuroimaging