Premature birth appears to weaken brain connections​

Babies born prematurely face an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric problems that may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions, according to new School of Medicine research led by Cynthia Rogers, MD. 

Difficult behavior in young children may point to later problems

It’s normal for a young child to have tantrums and be otherwise disruptive, but researchers have found that if such behavior is prolonged or especially intense, the child may have conduct disorder, a childhood psychiatric problem that could be a harbinger of antisocial behavior. The research was led by Joan L. Luby, MD (shown).

Brain differences seen in depressed preschoolers

A key brain structure that regulates emotions works differently in preschoolers with depression compared with their healthy peers, according to new research at the School of Medicine. Brain scans of preschoolers with depression revealed elevated activity in the amygdala, the area shown in the red circle, when compared with scans of young children exhibiting no signs of depression.

Risk of autism in siblings nearly double prior estimates

Siblings of children with autism are known to be at increased risk for autistic spectrum disorder, but now researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine led by John N. Constantino, MD, report the risk is substantially higher than previously believed. Their results show that 19 percent of infant siblings develop the disorder by age 3. 

Parent-child play therapy relieves depression in preschoolers

A form of play therapy between parents and their toddlers can relieve depression in preschoolers, according to child psychiatry researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. For the study, the researchers adapted a play-based technique known as parent-child interaction therapy, adding a focus on emotional development. 

Language delays found in siblings of children with autism

Siblings of children with autism have more frequent language delays and other subtle characteristics of the disorder than previously understood. Girls also may be mildly affected more often than recognized in the past, according to a new study, led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.