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Positive support may keep depression at bay

Posted - Nov. 22, 2004 at 2:20 p.m.



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Positive social support can spare mistreated kids from depression, even if they are genetically predisposed to developing the condition.

Research has shown that adults with a particular version of a gene controlling the brain chemical serotonin are more likely to develop depression if they were mistreated as children. In the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., extend the finding to children and show that social support can make up for the genetic liability.

The scientists studied children between 5 and 15 years old, half of whom had been mistreated. As in adults, maltreated children with the same version of the gene were more likely to have depression. But, the researchers found, that was only when they had not received positive social support after being removed from the abusive or neglectful environment.

- Sue Goetinck Ambrose

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STUDY: NURSERY RHYMES MORE VIOLENT THAN TV

So this is what passes for children's entertainment: Babies abandoned in trees. A blackbird pecks off a woman's nose. Two children suffer head injuries after tumbling down a hill.

Television? No, nursery rhymes.

British researchers analyzed the content of the 25 most popular nursery rhymes for episodes of violence, either intended or otherwise. Recited aloud, the nursery rhymes contained a violent act approximately every one minute, nine seconds. For comparison, they said, British television contains a violent scene about every 12 1/2 minutes.

The point, they wrote last week in Archives of Diseases in Childhood , is that "laying the blame solely on television viewing is simplistic and may divert attention from vastly more complex societal problems."

- Laura Beil

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(Writers are staff members of The Dallas Morning News. Write to them at: The Dallas Morning News, Communications Center, Dallas, TX, 75265.)

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(c) 2004, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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