Often underestimated: depression in children



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Children suffer from depression much more often than previously thought

More and more children suffer from mental health problems such as depression. This was one of the current interim results of the health study by the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE) of the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig. It was also found that adult diseases such as certain retinal or vascular changes occur much earlier than previously thought. Obesity also affects more and more people.

More and more children with depression and vitamin D deficiency While adults suffer from allergies and obesity more often, psychological problems increase in children. "Depression is an underestimated problem in children and adolescents," the LIFE scientists report. Around 500 eight- to 14-year-olds have been examined as part of the health study on diseases of civilization. A depressive disorder was diagnosed in ten percent of the underage subjects. Most of the affected children live in a socially difficult and stressful environment. About a third of the parents also suffer from depression. “Many of the children also have other mental health problems. Depression, fears and behavioral problems occur particularly frequently at the same time, ”the scientists report.

Further studies by the children's group (LIFE-Child) as part of the health study were carried out to collect reference values ​​for thyroid, kidney and bone parameters. These should later help to determine whether an examination value is in the normal range or indicates an illness. "In the evaluations it can be seen that the blood concentration of vitamin D, which is important for bone formation, is significantly lower than the recommended blood concentration in most children and adolescents after the second year of life," says a report on the study. Too little exercise outdoors is considered to be the cause. Because many children spend more time in front of the computer or television instead of playing in the garden or forest.

More and more adults suffer from obesity and premature aging diseases The interim result of the LIFE study shows an increase in lifestyle diseases among adults. According to this, diseases of old age begin much earlier than expected. In the study participants under 50 years of age, the scientists found, among other things, vascular changes that could later lead to coronary heart disease. During the examination of the retina in the eye, changes (macular degeneration) were discovered that "run years later vision losses", the message says.

Another common disease is high blood pressure, which can also occur very early. Around a quarter of the study participants under the age of 40 “found a measurement result to be clarified”. In the group of over 60-year-olds, there were even four out of five subjects.

When examining the subjects, the scientists also noticed an increase in allergies in adults. Many people are particularly hypersensitive to the ambrosia brought in from America.

According to the LIFE study, there are also more and more overweight people. “Morbid overweight (obesity) is also on the rise. With increasing age, the percentage of overweight people (BMI> 25) increases to 80 percent and the percentage of obese people (BMI> 30) to 30 percent, ”the scientists report. The body fat distribution changes over the years. While middle-aged fat usually attaches to the buttocks and legs (pear shape), with age it spreads mainly around the abdomen (apple shape).

LIFE study examines child and adult health As part of the LIFE study, which is funded with 40 million euros from the Free State of Saxony and with EU funds, researchers are trying to find out why more and more Germans are suffering from certain diseases of civilization. By 2014, 10,000 adults and several thousand children are to be examined. So far, 4,240 adults and almost 2,700 children have participated in the study.

The eighth annual conference of the German Society for Epidemiology (DGEpi) is currently taking place in Leipzig together with the first International LIFE Symposium. Around 450 experts also answer the question: "What keeps us healthy, what makes us sick?" (Ag)

Image: Simone Peter / pixelio.de

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