HEALTH BITES

Computer game helps children with ADHD, teen mums have higher rate of autistic kids; general anaesthetic may lower IQ of youngsters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 June, 2015, 6:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 June, 2015, 6:09am

Computer game helps with ADHD

New research on students in China diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has found playing a computer game that exercises their concentration can improve their behaviour in the classroom. The software syncs with a wireless headband that monitors brainwaves during gameplay, and adjusts the level of difficulty and scoring system in order to target and train the attention control, working memory and impulse-control. Five elementary school students were involved in the study. This has provided the foundation for a large randomised control trial currently under way in Australia. Also, four of the five sets of parents saw improvements in their child's interactions with teachers and peers. "The present study implies that the neurocognitive training can result in broader and more socially meaningful outcomes than improvement of ADHD symptoms," write study authors Han Jiang and Stuart Johnstone.

Autism rate higher with teen mums

The largest-ever multinational study of parental age and autism risk has found increased autism rates among the children of teen mothers and among children whose parents have relatively large gaps between their ages. The study also confirmed that older parents are at higher risk of having children with autism. The analysis, funded by Autism Speaks, an advocacy organisation in the US, included more than 5.7 million children across Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia. The children - including more than 30,000 with autism - were born between 1985 and 2004, and followed up until 2009. Autism rates were 15 per cent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s, and 18 per cent higher among children born to teen mums, compared to those born to mothers in their 20s. Autism rates also rose with widening gaps between two parents' ages and were highest when dads were between 35 and 44 and their partners were 10 or more years younger.

Anaesthetic in young kids may lower IQ

Children who received a general anaesthetic for surgery before age four had diminished language comprehension, lower IQ and decreased grey matter density in posterior regions of their brain, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. For the retrospective study, the researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre compared the scores of 53 healthy participants of a language development study (aged five to 18 years with no history of surgery) with the scores of 53 children in the same age range who had undergone surgery before the age of four. The authors stress that average test scores for all 106 children in the study were within population norms, regardless of surgical history. Still, compared with children who had not undergone surgery, children exposed to anaesthesia scored much lower in listening comprehension and performance IQ.