Self Regulation, Colicky Babies and ADHD

Self Regulation can affects cognitive functioning
If your baby has colic, sleeps poorly or is a poor feeder, he or she has double the chances of being diagnosed with ADHD as a school age child. These are the findings of a study out of Switzerland that looked at behavioral problems in children and their history of feeding problems, crying or sleep issues as babies. 

When a baby is 'colicky' or sleeps and eats poorly, pediatricians categorize the baby as having regulatory problems. These babies have problems coping with all that is around them and they lack self comforting behaviors such as sucking on their hands or clinging to a blanket that help regulate the baby's breathing, heart rate, mood and sleep. 

Some psychiatrists see ADHD as a self regulation problem as well. Children with ADHD have trouble regulating their arousal so they can be sluggish or slower in the case of kids with Inattentive ADD (ADHD-I) or they can be hyperactive in the case of kids with Combined type or Hyperactive/Impulsive type ADHD. 

Kids with ADHD may also have emotional regulatory issues such as anxiety, depression, impulsiveness and oppositional behavior. These emotional deregulation issues are also seen by psychiatrist as part of the whole picture of ADHD. It is not too surprising then that the Swiss study found that these regulation problems are first seen when these kids are babies. 

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that handles self regulation. It is this part of the brain that controls the "executive functions" of our brains which include emotional control and self regulation. Executive functions are often quite undeveloped until age 12 and in the case of children and adults with ADHD they may remain undeveloped until much later in life and sadly, in some adults with ADD and ADHD, never fully develop. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy may help some people struggling with ADHD develop their executive functioning. Books on ADHD Behavioral therapy sometimes can provide help in developing executive function but a thorough review of the literature reveals that executive benefits are only improved consistently from four interventions. These are, in order or effectiveness as follows: 

Colicky babies can become colicky adults.  I was a colicky baby as were both my sons.  We all have or had some form of Attention Deficit Disorder.  It makes sense to me that these two issues of self regulation are related as was found in the recent study performed in Switzerland.

Self regulation starts in infancy and is disrupted in children with ADHD. These self regulation issues can continue into adulthood but certain interventions such as medication, sleep hygiene programs, exercise programs and a vitamin rich, essential fatty acid enriched diet can help improve the self regulation problems that result in poor attention, poor focus and delayed cognitive development.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! ADHD as a self-regulation issue is an interesting position. Thank you for sharing!


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