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Anorexia linked to cognitive deficits

Those who do not recover fully from anorexia suffered during adolescence are vulnerable to changes in their brain structure and cognition problems.

Anorexia linked to cognitive deficits

Those who do not recover fully from anorexia suffered during adolescence are vulnerable to changes in their brain structure and cognition problems later in life. Anorexia nervosa causes many health problems including heart disease, hormonal imbalance, nerve damage, blood disorders and digestive problems. Abnormalities in cognitive function and brain structure have also been reported. To find out whether or not cognitive deficits and brain structure deformities persist after weight restoration in girls who suffered from anorexia nervosa during their adolescence, researchers from Canada studied 66 females, aged between 21 and 25 years, who were treated for the eating disorder for nearly 6 years. This group of participants was compared to 42 healthy females, nearly of the same age. All the participants underwent clinical examination, MRI brain scan, and cognitive evaluation. Details regarding weight recovery after illness and menstrual regularity were also taken into consideration. It was found that compared to healthy females, those who suffered from anorexia nervosa had larger lateral ventricles (cavities deep in the brain) and therefore smaller brain volume. Those with a history of irregular periods, a common effect of anorexia, scored poorly in mental assessments tests. However, cognition and brain abnormalities were seen in those females who had not recovered weight even after anorexia treatment. The researchers noted that the damage caused by anorexia nervosa could be reserved by weight recovery and mental performance in particular could be improved with return of normal periods.
Pediatrics
August 2008
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