That’s News

By Thomas Crocker
Monday, January 6, 2020

Increasing Exercise May Reduce Depression Despite Genetic Predisposition

People who are genetically predisposed to depression may be able to counteract their increased risk by exercising more, according to Harvard University researchers.

In a new study published in Depression and Anxiety, a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) examined EMR data for nearly 8,000 people and identified individuals diagnosed with depression or a related condition. The researchers created a score to predict each person’s genetic risk for depression.

More active individuals were less likely to develop depression, even if they were genetically predisposed. An extra four hours of high- or low-intensity exercise per week — about 35 minutes per day — reduced risk of a new depressive episode 17%, the researchers found.

“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny,” says lead author Karmel Choi, PhD, of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a MGH press release.

Study: Chronic Itch Linked With Depression

Depression is more than twice as common for individuals with chronic itch caused by a skin condition, according to findings published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Researchers with the European Society for Dermatology and Psychiatry compared 3,530 individuals with skin diseases with more than 1,000 healthy individuals. Itch was present in at least 70% of patients in six categories of skin conditions, with a high of 90% in individuals with prurigo and related conditions. Individuals with itch had higher rates of depression (14% to 5.7%) and suicidal thoughts (15.7% to 9%) than people without itch.

Lead investigator Florence J. Dalgard, MD, PhD, of the Department of Dermatology and Venereology at Skåne University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden, tells Elsevier, “This study illustrates the burden of the symptom of itch and its multidimensional aspect. The management of patients with itch should involve access to a multidisciplinary team when necessary, as is already the case in several European countries.”

Young Maternal Age May Increase ADHD Risk in Children

Women who give birth for the first time at an early age — especially before age 20 — are more likely to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study from the University of South Australia.

In analysis of the genetic data of 220,685 women from a UK database, researchers found a strong correlation between children’s genetic risk for ADHD and young maternal age. The findings were published in the Nature Research journal Scientific Reports. The team hopes this discovery will lead to better education for women about the challenges of giving birth at a young age and how to spot the signs of ADHD in children.

In a university press release, researcher and Associate Professor Hong Lee says, “ADHD is treatable, but early diagnosis and interventions are key to a successful outcome.”