HealthWrap: Children are depressing

By DAN OLMSTED, UPI Senior Editor  |  Feb. 7, 2006 at 4:31 PM
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Got kids? Then get ready to be miserable every single day for the rest of your life.

That's overstating matters, but new research does suggest that people with children (otherwise known as parents) have "significantly higher levels of depression" than those without children. What's more, the risk doesn't go away just because the kids do.

"Parents have more to worry about than other people do -- that's the bottom line," said Robin Simon of Florida State University, a study co-author. "And that worry does not diminish over time. Parents worry about their kids' emotional, social, physical and economic well-being. We worry about how they're getting along in the world."

The study, which appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, looked at data from the National Survey of Families and Households. The truly surprising finding is that parents of adult children are more depression-prone than those with kids at home.

"Young children in some ways are emotionally easier," Simon said. "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems."

Here's something to cheer up a growing number of parents: ELBW babies -- that stands for extremely low birth weight -- seem to do just as well when they reach adulthood as their normal-birth-weight siblings, according to a study.

New techniques and technology have allowed far more ELBW babies to survive, and it's been feared they might show long-term deficits. But now, as the first generation comes of age, those fears seem unfounded, according to the research in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study defines ELBW kids as weighing less than 2.2 pounds and very-low-birth-weight babies as less than 3.3 pounds.

Studies have already shown those children have disadvantages in cognition, schooling and behavior in childhood and adolescence, but the new report suggests most ultimately catch up in key measures of education, employment and independence.

"Against our expectations and many odds, a significant majority of ELBW young adults have overcome earlier difficulties to become functional members of society," according to researchers led by Dr. Saroj Saigal of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

"It is not clear what factors contributed to the positive outcome beyond adolescence, as all through childhood the ELBW cohort was significantly compromised in comparison with their peers. Our study should provide hope to parents for an equivalent, if not a better, future for their premature children in the longer term."

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Quick, what's the most common sexually transmitted disease? It's genital warts, and scientists want to use the technology in the new cervical-cancer vaccine to prevent the affliction.

Tuesday, Australian researcher Ian Frazier began a vaccine trial with patients from Brisbane and China. The plan of attack: A vaccine that delivers an antigen via virus-like particles.

"It will target the main causes of visible genital warts which are human papillomavirus," Frazer said.

No snickering, please, but the vaccine trial is being timed to the beginning of Wartfest, which annually showcases new developments in the fight against warts, HPV and cancer.

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E-mail: dolmsted@upi.com

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