Dr. Wu: ‘I have no intention of giving up’

Newsday.com title Newborns are more likely to have a history of neurological damage, according to research article Newborn babies who suffer from severe head injuries and other neurological disorders are more than twice as likely to develop symptoms that can lead to brain damage and death, according a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers also found that newborns who suffered traumatic brain injuries, a condition known as posttraumatic stress disorder, were significantly more likely than those who did not have such a history to suffer from depression, anxiety and psychosis.

“These are babies who have been subjected to severe brain injuries,” said Dr. Richard Wu, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the study.

“It’s not only that their brains are damaged, but their brains also respond to stress and trauma differently than normal.”

The study, which was published online Aug. 25 in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology, looked at the neurological problems experienced by more than 200,000 infants who were born to parents who had been hospitalized in the past year.

The researchers looked at whether the severity of the injury caused brain damage.

They also looked at how the baby’s caregivers responded to the injuries.

“There are a lot of questions about how severe the injuries were, how long they took, how much the child’s cognitive abilities were impacted,” Wu said.

“We don’t know how long this type of trauma is lasting and what the impact on the baby is going to be.”

The researchers found that among the babies who had experienced severe brain trauma, a greater percentage of them developed depression, social anxiety, posttraumatic anxiety and posttraumatic psychosis than those with no history of trauma.

Those who had had brain injuries were also at higher risk for developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

“Posttraumatic stress disorders are very common,” Wu explained.

“They occur at any age in infancy.

They’re common in children who have suffered traumatic injuries.

They’ve happened in babies who’ve suffered an injury to the brain or a brain tumor.”

The study found that children who had a history, at some point in their lives, of posttraumatic trauma were more likely, on average, to have at least one psychiatric condition.

Among those children, those with histories of post-traumatic stress had a 2.5 times greater risk of developing schizophrenia.

The risk of psychosis was higher for children who were older, had a parent who suffered a brain injury or had had a traumatic brain injury.

The researchers also noted that posttraumatic depression was not associated with any of the other psychiatric conditions.

“What we found was that the odds of developing PTSD and post-trauma depression were not related,” Wu told Newsday, “and this is what’s really important.”

The findings may help explain why some people who experience traumatic brain events develop psychotic disorders.

“I think that this is just one piece of a larger puzzle that we’re still trying to understand,” said Wu.

“I think there are a number of things that may be contributing to this.”

Wu is not the first researcher to suggest that traumatic brain trauma is linked to psychotic symptoms.

In 2012, researchers from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University published a study that examined brain scans of 2,100 children who underwent head trauma in the hospital, compared with children who did no head injury.

The study found those who had suffered a head injury had higher levels of inflammation in their brains than those without any head injuries.

In fact, they also had higher amounts of oxidative stress, a process that breaks down proteins.

This inflammation was associated with increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause stress, and increased levels in the stress hormones oxytocin and adrenaline, which can lead a person to engage in aggressive behavior.

“If you look at the cortisol levels, it’s the only stress hormone that increases in the brain after brain trauma,” Wu added.

“So if we look at these inflammatory biomarkers, there is a correlation between those stress hormones and higher cortisol levels.”