We can date our pregnancies by what we were told was safe that later turned out to be more problematic. My own mother often told me lovingly (and laughingly) of the understanding doctor who advised her to drink rum every night when she was pregnant with me and had trouble falling asleep. And we know that on balance, it’s a good thing that science and epidemiology march forward, with more careful and more thorough investigations of the possible effects of exposures during fetal development and their complex long-term implications.

But it’s disconcerting to learn that something you did, or something you took, in all good faith, following all the best recommendations, may be part of a more complicated story. And the researchers who have been examining the possible effects of fairly extensive acetaminophen use during pregnancy are very well aware that these are complex issues to communicate to women who have been pregnant in the past, who are pregnant right now or who become pregnant in the future.

Acetaminophen, found in Tylenol and many other over-the-counter products, has been the drug recommended for pregnant women with fever or pain or inflammatory conditions certainly as far back as my own pregnancies in the 1980s and ‘90s.

But in recent years there have been concerns raised about possible effects of heavy use of acetaminophen on the brain of the developing fetus. A Danish epidemiological study published in 2014 found an association between prenatal acetaminophen use during pregnancy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially if the acetaminophen use was more frequent.

Zeyan Liew, a postdoctoral scholar in the department of epidemiology at the U.C.L.A. Fielding School of Public Health, who was the first author on the 2014 article, said it was challenging for researchers to look at effects that show up later in the child’s life. “With a lot of drug safety research in pregnancy, they only look into birth outcomes or congenital malformations,” Dr. Liew said. “It’s very difficult to conduct a longitudinal study and examine outcomes like neurobehavioral disorders.”

Was the increased risk of attention problems caused by the acetaminophen, or to the conditions for which the mothers had taken the medication in the first place? Since A.D.H.D. is in part an inherited condition, was it possible that parents with attention problems and impulsivity were more likely to take medication?

In a large study published online in the journal Pediatrics in October, researchers looked at acetaminophen use during more than 100,000 pregnancies in Norway, and at the risk of the child’s eventually being diagnosed with A.D.H.D.

The same group had done an earlier, smaller study published in 2013 that showed children exposed to long-term use of acetaminophen had more neurodevelopmental issues at 3 years of age than their unexposed siblings. For example, they started walking later, and had more gross motor problems.

The researchers were skeptical of this finding, said Eivind Ystrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, and a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who worked on both studies and is the lead author of the new article.

“We expected to find nothing,” he said, and assumed that the difference could be explained by whatever illnesses or symptoms during the pregnancies had led to the acetaminophen use by the mother.

In their 2017 study of pregnant women, they had access to information collected from the mothers about all their symptoms during the pregnancy, including more than a hundred medical conditions, he said, as well as information about what other drugs they had taken while pregnant. And by linking that study to the Norwegian patient registry, they could see which children were later given A.D.H.D. diagnoses. They could also factor out all kinds of other health information, including whether the mother or the father had symptoms of A.D.H.D.

They could adjust statistically for smoking or depression, he said, as well as for all the different symptoms for which the women had taken the acetaminophen in the first place. And none of these adjustments affected the conclusion: “What we found was that regardless of the reason they used acetaminophen, those who reported long-term exposure — 29 consecutive days or more — had a more than twofold risk of A.D.H.D.”

And the effect was there for women who took the acetaminophen for different medical conditions, making it seem less likely that some particular medical problem was actually affecting the developing fetus.

“We really tried all the tricks in the book to remove this effect and we can’t make it go away,” Dr. Ystrom said. “It’s a problem because it’s a recommended drug for pregnant women.”

For women who used acetaminophen but only for less than seven days, the risk of A.D.H.D. actually went down — something else that the researchers cannot explain.

All this does not actually prove cause and effect. “Maybe those who used it for a very long time had more severe fever or more severe pain than those who didn’t use it,” Dr. Ystrom said. “That is the alternative explanation, that these mothers who used it for a long time, they had a more severe type of condition.”

But there’s enough evidence of a link to make experts think carefully — and argue — about what the recommendations should be. People who counsel pregnant women are legitimately concerned about the anxiety these studies can cause, while the science and epidemiology are still being figured out, but once the concern is out there, and the debate is going on, the people most directly affected are entitled to the information — and the anxiety.

So the study leaves scientists with “two conflicting things to communicate to the public,” Dr. Ystrom said. “Short term use, we have no reason to think it’s bad; long-term use, we have a twofold risk.”

The study cites research stating that 65 to 70 percent of women in the United States take acetaminophen during pregnancy, although the prolonged use of 29 days or more is a much rarer pattern. Researchers are also worried that women will be frightened out of using the medication when they need it, and will suffer through symptoms that can cause harm and distress to the mother, and potentially to the fetus as well. And there are not necessarily alternative safer drugs for pregnant women.

“Most pregnancies, short-term use is the only relevant use,” said Dr. Ystrom. “Our worry is that those who need to take the drug when they have fever don’t do it; that would be really bad.”

“Fever, pain, stress, those indications could also have adverse effects on the developing fetus,” Dr. Liew said. But the consistency of the association with acetaminophen means “there’s a reason to be cautious using it, not to assume it’s risk-free.”

We all want reliable guidance, especially when we’re pregnant. It’s disconcerting even to be reminded of how difficult it is to answer these questions. The complexities of pregnancy and medications and the many unanswered questions demand more research and more information, even while it leaves us less certain and perhaps less comfortable.

For now, pregnant women are left with the old advice: Talk to your doctor about managing pain and fever. But while those conversations may be a little more complicated than they used to be, those who end up needing occasional medication, which is not related to increased risk, should take comfort from the idea that such use is now being scrutinized much more carefully and more longitudinally than it was back when I was pregnant, and no one was talking about the possible long-term effects.

Dr. Robert T. Gunby Jr. delivering a baby born to a woman who had received a transplanted uterus. This was the first birth after a uterus transplant in the United States, at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.CreditShannon Faulk/Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

For the first time in the United States, a woman who had a uterus transplant has given birth.

The mother, who was born without a uterus, received the transplant from a living donor last year at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and had a baby boy there last month, the hospital said on Friday.

At the family’s request, their name, hometown and the date of the birth are being withheld to protect their privacy, according to Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for the hospital, which is part of Baylor Scott & White Health.

Since 2014, eight other babies have been born to women who had uterus transplants, all in Sweden, at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.

A new frontier, uterus transplants are seen as a source of hope for women who cannot give birth because they were born without a uterus or had to have it removed because of cancer, other illness or complications from childbirth. Researchers estimate that in the United States, 50,000 women might be candidates.

The transplants are meant to be temporary, left in place just long enough for a woman to have one or two children, and then removed so she can stop taking the immune-suppressing drugs needed to prevent organ rejection.

Dr. Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon who left the Swedish team to join Baylor’s group, said the birth in Dallas was particularly important because it showed that success was not limited to the hospital in Gothenburg.

The baby’s mother had been born without a uterus. The baby was delivered by a scheduled cesarean section.CreditBaylor University Medical Center, via Associated Press

“To make the field grow and expand and have the procedure come out to more women, it has to be reproduced,” she said, adding that within hours of Baylor’s announcement, advocacy groups for women with uterine infertility from all over the world had contacted her to express their excitement at the news.

“It was a very exciting birth,” Dr. Johannesson said. “I’ve seen so many births and delivered so many babies, but this was a very special one.”

At Baylor, eight women have had transplants, including the new mother, in a clinical trial designed to include 10 patients. One recipient is pregnant, and two others — one of whom received her transplant from a deceased donor — are trying to conceive. Four other transplants failed after the surgery, and the organs had to be removed, said Dr. Giuliano Testa, principal investigator of the research project and surgical chief of abdominal transplantation.

“We had a very rough start, and then hit the right path,” Dr. Testa said in a telephone interview. “Who paid for it in a certain way were the first three women. I feel very thankful for their contribution, more so than I can express.”

Both Dr. Johannesson and Dr. Testa said that a large part of their motivation came from meeting patients and coming to understand how devastated they were to find out that they would not be able to have children.

Dr. Testa said: “I think many men will never understand this fully, to understand the desire of these women to be mothers. What moved all of us is to see the mother holding her baby, when she was told, ‘You will never have it.’”

The transplants are now experimental, with much of the cost covered by research funds. But they are expensive, and if they become part of medical practice, will probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is not clear that insurers will pay, and Dr. Testa acknowledged that many women who want the surgery will not be able to afford it.

Another hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, performed the first uterus transplantin the United States in February 2016, but it failed after two weeks because of an infection that caused life-threatening hemorrhage and required emergency surgery to remove the organ. The clinic halted its program for an extended period, but has restarted it and has patients awaiting transplants, a spokeswoman, Victoria Vinci, said.

The woman who gave birth at Baylor was the fourth to receive a transplant there, in September 2016.

The process is complicated and has considerable risks for both recipients and donors. Donors undergo a five-hour operation that is more complex and takes out more tissue than a standard hysterectomy to remove the uterus. The transplant surgery is also difficult, in some ways comparable to a liver transplant, Dr. Testa said.

Recipients face the risks of surgery and anti-rejection drugs for a transplant that they, unlike someone with heart or liver failure, do not need to save their lives. Their pregnancies are considered high-risk, and the babies have to be delivered by cesarean section to avoid putting too much strain on the transplanted uterus. So far all the births have occurred a bit earlier than the normal 40 weeks of gestation — at 32 to 36 weeks.

Women who have transplants cannot conceive the natural way, because their ovaries are not connected to the uterus, so there is no way for an egg to get in there. Instead, they need in vitro fertilization. Before the transplant, women are given hormone treatments to make their ovaries release multiple eggs, which are then harvested, fertilized and frozen.

Once the woman has fully recovered from surgery and begun menstruating, the eggs can be implanted in the uterus, one at a time, until she becomes pregnant.

In Sweden, doctors waited a year after the transplant before trying to start a pregnancy, to allow the women time to heal. At Baylor, the team moved much faster, and began trying to impregnate the women within a few months of the surgery, soon after they began menstruating.

Dr. Testa said it was his idea to start the pregnancies earlier, because the women were young and healthy, and did not need a year to bounce back from surgery. He argued that the waiting time just kept them on anti-rejection drugs — which have significant side effects — for longer than necessary.

“We went shorter,” he said. “I think we were right.”

He and Dr. Johannesson said the Swedish team, and other centers planning transplants, had also begun to consider shortening the wait.


Photo: Martí Sans

You’ve had a long day, and you’re stressed and frazzled from work, kids, your partner—life! You can’t wait to get home and pour a glass of red wine, kick up your feet and relax. Thank goodness all the latest news about red wine boasts its antioxidants and its potential memory-protecting and anti-aging properties…I know it’s not technically a food, but all the news makes it sound like it’s practically a vegetable. And what’s more relaxing than a beautiful glass of jewel-colored deliciousness?

Sorry to cork your wine, but I’ve got some not-so-relaxing news—wine can actually exacerbate stress and anxiety and disrupt sleep, especially if you are already someone who suffers from being a bit tightly wound. And seriously, if you ever suffered from anxiety, you know how debilitating the condition can be—and common. Over 30 percent of people will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Plus, it occurs nearly twice as often in women.

Here’s how wine can contribute to anxiety:

It throws your body chemistry off balance.

Any sort of alcohol changes the levels of serotonin, other neurotransmitters, and other hormones in your brain and body, which can worsen anxiety. While one glass may feel relaxing, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which can cause a rebound effect when it wears off, which can last for several hours and up to an entire day after imbibing.

It sparks hot flashes and night sweats.

When your body is thrown off kilter, it goes to work to get you back into balance. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal, your body can miss the mark when striving for balance. When you have a glass of wine, your body reads it as a sugar, which causes a spike in insulin to handle the increase in blood sugar, which disrupts other hormones including estrogen and progesterone. This means that in an attempt to reach equilibrium, your body can try too hard and overcompensate, which can cause hot flashes and night sweats.

It disrupts sleep.

When your body is out of its normal state of homeostasis, it can’t relax. So, while you might swear that a glass of wine helps you to drift effortlessly off to bed—and it may be true—it is equally true that the reason you wake up a few hours later is because the sedating effects wear off, and you are left with the aftermath of a body trying to get back into balance. Not sleeping well can cause—you guessed it—more anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

It’s a slippery slope.

Even if you’ve never had issues with alcohol, you may still have some addictive characteristics (most of us do) that can lead you to overdo it in other areas of your life. Think sweets and/or salty snacks, shopping at the outlets or online, bingeing on Netflix or other recorded shows, and all the many other addictions our 24/7 lifestyles offer us. Consider also that anxiety issues and alcohol abuse seem to go hand in hand; if you have one, you are more likely to find yourself in trouble with the other.

While anxiety is more likely to happen among women, the results that work best for you depend on your unique mental, emotional, and physical makeup and also what your lifestyle is like and many other factors. You can find out more about your distinctive needs in my book Super Woman Rx, as well as tons of stress- and anxiety-relieving strategies.

A better strategy for busting anxiety in the evening:

Here are some of my favorite alcohol-free evening relaxation techniques. You can pick and choose what seems doable, or do the whole list in order for the perfect evening relaxation routine!

1. Shut off screens.

I’ll get the hardest one out of the way first…I highly recommend having a time in the evening when you shut off anything that has a screen. I try to do this! This includes any beeping, vibrating, or buzzing that goes along with said gadget. I recommend a solid hour at minimum, and three hours before bed being ideal.

2. Power up a diffuser.

Soothing scents such as lavender, vanilla, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and chamomile are known for their relaxing and calming effects. You can also dab some of these essential oils on your wrists to take the scent with you wherever you go.

3. Have a healthy nightcap.

My whole family loves to have this warming golden milk that is full of natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral components from turmeric, ginger, cloves, and honey. You can make it dairy-free with almond or coconut milk. This is not only relaxing to your digestive system, it also strengthens your immune system.

4. Don’t forget to breathe.

It sounds so simple, but most of us don’t partake of this powerful, and always available, stress-relieving tool. Instead, the majority of people I meet tend to breathe shallowly. When you take slow and full inhalations and exhalations, it increases blood circulation, and better transports the nutrients and chemicals to all the many important areas of your body and brain, which maintains overall balance. I love to use Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath technique. I like to do this either in a chair or seated on the floor. Simply inhale for a count of 4, hold the breath for 7 counts, and then exhale for a count of 8. Do this cycle 3 or 4 times.

5. Be thankful on paper.

A gratitude list never fails to take me down a few notches. You may have had a rotten day, but I bet you can still find at least 10 things every day that you are thankful for—a working fridge, a soft blanket, the smile someone shared, those deep breaths you just got done taking, your pulse. We don’t need science to tell us that gratitude goes a long way for a positive, less-anxious state-of-mind!


Headaches are so common and widespread that sometimes we simply pop a pain reliever and go on with our day. But it’s important to remember that when it comes to the body, there’s always a reason we’re not feeling our best. Headaches are no exception to this rule! So how do we become more knowledgeable and therefore empowered to manage any headache that comes along? How do we best treat them or, better yet, prevent them in the first place?

Well, Dr. Isha Gupta is a board-certified neurologist at IGEA Brain & Spine, and she deals with headaches every single day. Here’s what she thinks everyone should know about headaches:

There’s more than one type of headache.

In fact, according to Dr. Gupta, there are five! There’s a lot to learn, so here’s a little bit of information about each:

1. Tension headache.

These headaches commonly present as painful pressure or a tightening sensation around the head, sometimes the entire head! Dr. Gupta’s best tip? Try to reduce sources of stress and tension in your life. (Which, we know, is easier said than done.

2. Migraine headache.

Migraines commonly present as a pulsing or throbbing pain in one or both sides of the head, lights in your vision, great sensitivity to noises and lights, and possible vomiting and nausea. Oftentimes an NSAID can help treat migraines, but if you have more than one per week, Dr. Gupta recommends seeing a doctor who may be able to prescribe you something stronger.

3. Sinus headaches.

These headaches are characterized by sinus pain and pressure—normally in the front of the head. Dr. Gupta often tells her patients to treat headaches with a neti pot or an over-the-counter pain reliever. It’s also important to make sure a doctor looks at your sinuses to make sure your headache really is a sinus headache.

4. Cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are often described as a stabbing pain in one side of the head and are also often accompanied by one eye tearing up and sweat on the face. These usually last about 30 minutes but often occur frequently. These are the most difficult types of headaches to predict and treat.

5. Hormone headache.

Some women experience headaches or migraines at certain times of the month, especially before, after, or during menstruation. Luckily, this means they are often more predictable than other types of headaches, and I tell my female patients to take preventive measures during those few days of the month and try to pinpoint any triggers.

6. Rebound headache.

These headaches occur when a certain medication is used too frequently. In other words, if you take Tylenol every day to treat your headaches, you might start developing them on a daily basis. Dr. Gupta normally tells her patients to stop taking their acute medication for a while to give the body a rest.

If you suffer from headaches, do this:

When it comes to headaches, knowledge is power. So it’s great news when you can identify exactly what type of headaches you’re suffering from. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take when you’re suffering from headaches frequently or even just occasionally—especially if it’s been hard to identify the cause. Here are 10 that Dr. Gupta recommends:

  1. Start a headache diary, where you keep track of symptoms.
  2. Take a good hard look at your sleep (are you getting too much or too little?).
  3. Watch your intake of chocolate, cheese, deli meats, red wine, and any other type of alcohol.
  4. Keep track of neck pain symptoms, as this is often linked to headaches.
  5. Evaluate your stress levels.
  6. Consider that your caffeine intake might have something to do with your headaches.
  7. Try taking a B vitamin complex; these are great for people who are wary of prescription medications.
  8. Magnesium is great migraine prevention.
  9. Consider a massage—especially temporal massage.
  10. Uncover your triggers. For example, preventing sinus headaches is more about controlling pollen and the allergies that are causing the flare.


Photo: Artem Zhushman

We tend to think of negativity in the form of negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, guilt, jealousy, and fear, among others. If stereotypes are to be believed, men will react differently than women when confronted with these types of emotions. But why is this? Could this stereotype be based on actual rational observation and science as opposed to the irrationality of bigotry, racism, hatred, or fear, which are not based in anything remotely objective or factual? Well, let’s dive into the science.

Proof that men are less likely to react to negative emotion has extended beyond stereotypes and casual observation in recent years. According to the article, “Do women experience negative emotions differently than men?” from ScienceDaily, a study published in 2015 provided insight on the subject. Researchers found that subtle differences in brain function affect how the sexes respond when presented with negative imagery.

Do hormones matter when it comes to positive thinking?

In the study, lead researcher Adrianna Mendrek and her colleagues studied how hormonal levels come into play and how these differences are reflected in the brains of men and women when it comes to negativity. How did they test this? Well, a blood test at the beginning of the study measured participants’ estrogen and testosterone levels, then, individuals were exposed to images that could potentially evoke positive, negative, or neutral emotions while undergoing MRI brain scans. They were also asked to assess their own emotional responses when viewing the images.

Women self-reported being more reactive to the emotional images as a whole, and the other data collected concurred. Higher estrogen levels, regardless of the person’s sex, almost always meant increased sensitivity to the images, while higher levels of testosterone were most frequently associated with lowered sensitivity.

Are the male brain and female brain really that different?

The study also indicated that the amygdala, a region of the brain known to act as a threat detector, also played a part. It was found that men had a stronger connection between the amygdala and the area of the brain that is involved in cognitive processes (including perception, emotions, and social interactions) creating a more analytical than emotional approach when processing negative emotions. But couldn’t this just be a response to cultural stereotypes? The article also noted that men, culturally, have a more analytical than emotional approach when facing negative emotions based on the participant’s gender identity. Mendrek explained that “there are both biological and cultural factors that modulate our sensitivity to negative situations in terms of emotions.” In other words, the answer lies somewhere between.

Can we rethink negativity and use it to be happier and more successful?

The good news is that the flip side of these so-called unwanted negative emotions is the ability to effectively utilize negativity to one’s own advantage. Negativity is required to problem solve, plan ahead, and successfully avoid danger. Imagine trying to do a budget, plan a family vacation, or fill out your taxes with only positivity.

Learning how to use negativity to one’s own advantage is the heart of what I call “negativity wisdom.” It involves understanding that some types of negativity are beneficial and, most importantly, being able to distinguish between the “good” and “bad” kinds of negativity. It is more important, however, to know how to turn the bad kind into something useful, regardless of gender. Here are three common types of bad negativity that can be made to work for you rather than against you:

1. Worry.

This type of negativity can be made useful by homing in on the stressor causing the worry and working out the “what if” scenarios. This may not always be the most comfortable approach, but changing worry into contingency planning is a constructive use of negativity. For example, if you’re worried about the health or safety of a loved one, it is much more constructive to change your worry into planning for all the potential outcomes. Consider what you can do to either help them, avoid the undesirable conclusion, or at least make their immediate path easier, less stressful, or more enjoyable.

2. Doubt.

This type of negativity must be counteracted with self-adoration, which means accepting oneself without conditions. It’s best to begin with a little self-love. It’s also important to note that you can only accept yourself as the person you are right now, in the present. Waiting for some future you that you think is more deserving of your appreciation will only allow the negativity of self-doubt linger.

3. Fear.

Sometimes fear can be motivating, but more often it’s debilitating. There have been entire books written on the subject of fear with most stating that fear must be overcome. This is simply not true. The best way to turn fear into a useful type of negativity is to simply accept that you’re afraid, plow through it anyway, and refocus the negativity of fear into addressing the situation or issue at hand. Negativity doesn’t need to be removed or replaced in order to work in your favor.

Development of negativity wisdom can take time, and the bad type of negativity can be difficult to assess and work through. Negativity doesn’t care whether you’re male or female, so the idea of who is less negative is not the right question. Maybe the question is, “Who uses negativity more effectively?”


Addicted to Your Phone? It Could Throw Off Your Brain Chemistry

Credit: baranq/Shutterstock

It’s hard to escape screens; there is a roughly 100 percent chance you are looking at one right now. And though the long-term effects of screen time are still being studied, the effects of excessive internet and smartphone use are well-documented. “Pathological” internet use has been linked to depression in teens, and it may even shrink gray matter.

Now, a small new study suggests that for teens, being hooked on the internet and smartphones may harm brain chemistry, as well.

The research was presented yesterday (Nov. 30) at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago.The paper, which was presented by lead study author Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, found an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of “internet-addicted” teenagers. This imbalance was similar to that seen in people experiencing anxiety and depression.

But there’s also good news: The imbalance is reversible in several weeks using a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the study, researchers examined the brains of 19 internet- and smartphone-addicted teenagers and 19 nonaddicted teenagers using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a form of MRI that can reveal changes in the chemical composition of the brain. (Internet and smartphone addiction were measured using standardized questionnaires.)

Compared with the control group, the teens with internet and smartphone addiction showed a clear overabundance of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in one region of the limbic system, the brain’s emotional control center. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it blocks nerve cells from firing.

GABA is found in everyone’s brain, but too much of this neurotransmitter in the wrong areas can have stultifying effects.”When the normal function of the limbic system is disturbed, patients can develop anxiety, depression or addiction,” said Dr. Max Wintermark, a professor of radiology and the chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University. Wintermark was not involved with the new research but said that he was intrigued by it because of the increasing prevalence of phones and web devices in society.

“There have been multiple studies published [that link] addiction to alcohol and other substances with chemical imbalances in different regions of the brain, but this is the first study I’ve read about internet addiction” that shows such a link, Wintermark told Live Science.

For most people, checking email first thing in the morning or spending an hour scrolling though Instagram after work does not signify an internet addiction.

Rather, internet addiction, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, is an excessive use of the internet that leads to impairment of everyday life, sleep and relationships. Studies from around the world have found that the rates of internet addiction in young people range from less than 1 percent to 18 percent.

The teens who participated in Seo’s study all took standardized tests used to diagnose internet and smartphone addiction. The participants whose scores indicated an addiction  tended to saythat their internet and smartphone use interfered with their daily routines, social lives, sleep and productivity. These teenagers also had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsivity than the control group (the participants whose scores did not indicate internet addiction).

Due to the small sample size used in the study, Wintermark stressed that it’s too early to say that the chemical imbalances observed in the teens’ brains are linked to clinical problems such as anxiety and depression. Further testing on a larger group of people is needed, he said.

Wintermark noted that 12 teens in the study with addiction went on to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, and after nine weeks, they all showed decreased or normalized levels of GABA in their brains. According to the researchers, those teens completed a modified form of therapy that’s used to treat video game addiction, involving weekly 75-minute sessions of mindfulness exercises. These include recognizing internet impulses, finding alternative activities and expressing emotions.

“With appropriate intervention, the teens were able to basically correct those chemical changes” in their brains, Wintermark said. “That’s the part of the study I find most interesting. It shows there’s hope.”

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.




Me Too” (or “#MeToo“, with local alternatives in other languages) spread virally as a two-word hashtag used on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.[1][2][3] The phrase, long used in this sense by social activist Tarana Burke, was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, who encouraged women to tweet it to publicize experiences to demonstrate the widespread nature of misogynistic behavior.[4][5] Since then, millions of people have used t

he hashtag to come forward with their experiences, including many celebrities.[6][7]