viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2011

Immigrants show environment role in behavior issues: MedlinePlus

Immigrants show environment role in behavior issues

URL of this page:
(*this news item will not be available after 03/06/2012)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 Reuters Health Information Logo
Related MedlinePlus Page
By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans finds that behavior problems among immigrant kids and their kids, as well as in the families they left behind, are heavily influenced by environmental stresses.
Research on twins has suggested so-called conduct disorders -- which include everything from shoplifting and truancy to violence against animals and people -- have a strong inherited component. As an alternative to studying twins, the new report used immigrant families on both sides of the border to track the influence of environment on those kinds of behavior problems.
Although members of each immigration category the researchers surveyed were unrelated, researchers said the study population could represent multiple generations in a family -- in which genetics are similar across generations but the environment where kids grow up changes, sometimes dramatically.
"It's not like this is a population with some uniquely high level of conduct disorder," said Joshua Breslau, speaking of Mexican-American immigrant kids and the U.S.-born kids of immigrants.
"Even in the highest level of conduct disorder (in the study), they're still pretty much at the same level as the rest of the U.S.," added Breslau, one of the study's authors from the RAND Corporation's health division in Pittsburgh.
He and his colleagues note in their Archives of General Psychiatry report that conduct disorder is thought to stem in part from genetics, but studies have hinted that a significant contributor may also be the environment kids are raised in, such as their home and school life.
To try to get a better idea of the role that environment plays in kids' behavioral problems, the researchers consulted data from multiple surveys of Mexicans living in Mexico, as well as Mexican-American immigrants and kids and grandkids of immigrants, all living in the U.S.
All participants were interviewed as adults and answered questions on whether or not they had engaged in a range of conduct disorder-related behaviors as kids.
The researchers found a clear pattern in many individual behaviors, as well as in the number of people in each immigrant generation that would have been diagnosed with the disorder as youngsters.
Less than two percent of Mexicans raised in Mexico with family members who immigrated to the U.S. -- or Mexicans who immigrated themselves as adults, but later returned -- qualified as having had conduct disorder.
That compared to a seven percent rate of the disorder among study subjects whose parents were born in Mexico, but who themselves were born in the U.S. or had immigrated to the U.S. as children.
Among later immigrant generations - Mexican-Americans who were born in the U.S. and had at least one parent also born there -- almost 12 percent earned a conduct disorder diagnosis, looking back.
That was out of about 1,800 people in all three groups combined who were surveyed.
The researchers noted that there was much more variation among immigrant generations in non-violent, non-aggressive behaviors associated with conduct disorder, such as rule-breaking and theft, compared to physical fighting and confrontation.
"At this point we can kind of see this pattern but we really need to understand in more detail what's happening," Breslau told Reuters Health. He speculated that the U.S. may tolerate more dissent and problem behavior in kids, and that those behaviors are "socially reinforced" in a way that doesn't happen with kids living in Mexico.
A "healthy immigrant effect" has been observed among immigrants to a new country, who are generally healthier than people born there originally, but over time come to more closely resemble the population in their new country.
Breslau said a similar pattern was seen in this study, with the rates of behavioral problems among the later generations of immigrants "becoming American."
"We've already accepted that there are environmental influences that combine with genetic influences in complicated ways to influence anti-social behavior," said Benjamin Lahey, who has studied genetic and environmental components of conduct disorder at the University of Chicago, but wasn't involved in the new study.
"I don't think there's any doubt about the conclusion," he told Reuters Health.
Lahey said that in any "quasi-experimental" study, researchers can't account for all possible differences between groups -- immigrant generations, in this case -- that could influence the results. But he praised the authors and said that combined with the findings of previous reports, such as the twin studies, the new results are convincing and open doors for future research to dig deeper into specific causes of conduct disorder.
"The important thing that we need to figure out is, what are the particular environmental influences that interplay in complicated ways, we suspect, with what specific genetic factors?"
SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, online December 5, 2011.
Reuters Health
More Health News on:
Child Behavior Disorders
Immigrants show environment role in behavior issues: MedlinePlus

No hay comentarios: