Infection in mothers may increase the risk of behavior disorders in their offspring

This winter began with a race to vaccinate over 300 million people, as deaths from COVID were skyrocketing. Newer and potentially more deadly forms of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected, meaning we must continue updating our medical knowledge to keep pace with the virus’s evolution. More critically, we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that some harm from today’s infections might not be detected for decades to come in children born to mothers who were infected during pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently warns that pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness and death from…


Image by Mark Stay for Adobe

A root of today’s political conflict is all in our head — in our brain actually. One cause of our partisan division stems from the signature duality of that remarkable organ and the way(s) the human brain developed over the millennia. We are at a potential evolutionary crossroads — a battle is raging in our brains between primordial circuits that inspire tribal responses and potential escalation in hostility, and a highly evolved cortex that is struggling to realize its birthright and find interconnectedness for a greater good. …


Last month, stories reporting on Minority Mental Health Awareness Month focused mainly on minority access to healthcare or addressing stigma that exists in some minority communities in treating psychiatric problems. In the end, mental health and physical health are joined at the hip, and failing to address either can exacerbate problems in the other.

While social challenges to address mental health in minority communities is very important, the media generally missed that a federal priority for improving minority mental health is to include more participants across diverse racial backgrounds in research. Broadening the genetic pool in psychiatric studies will increase…


The President’s backtracking on minimum age of gun ownership puts a brighter halo around Rick Scott and the Florida legislature’s turning the tables on the NRA’s position on teenage gun ownership and the responsibility of parents and teachers in recognizing warning signs of imminent violence. Why does age matter and why are warning signs so seemingly difficult for parents and other adults to identify? Adolescents have a near monopoly on school shootings, in part because many shooters have had a connection with the school and feel emotionally wronged or devalued by teachers or peers. But such simple explanations- including violent…


© Adobe Stock

Around 20,000 species of bee currently buzz around the planet, most important for us being the domesticated honey bee. For thousands of years, humans have kept bees to provide a sweetener for food and drinks, and today honey bee colonies help farmers pollinate plants so we can have foods like apple, cantaloupe, cucumber, and squash. But most people don’t know that honey bees have been valuable in helping researchers understand a process called epigenetics. And epigenetics is shedding light on how the environment effects DNA and contributes to mental illness.

Hives contain three bee types, which appear very different but…


Naomi Judd visits the Lieber Institute for Brain Development in Baltimore, MD on July 27th.

Same Voice, New Message: Naomi Judd talks depression and the need for greater awareness and new treatments

America, we need to talk about mental illness. It’s a topic that we have consistently shrouded in shame. Fall down and break your arm? You happily hand friends a marker so they can sign your cast. A more serious condition like cancer — although often discussed in whispers — still elicits flowers and get well cards.

But when someone is depressed, has panic attacks or schizophrenia, or is caught in the clutches of addiction, people tend to go quiet. …


Image Credit: AdobeStock

Earlier this month marked World Mental Health Day, an annual event where the World Health Organization urges people like me to talk about our work and what needs to happen if we want to improve the mental well-being of people around the planet. Before plunging into a discussion about my work in brain research, let’s look at the bigger picture.

Studies find that around ten percent of the world’s population suffers from mental illness, including twenty percent of children and adolescents. Depression alone is estimated to affect 300 million people across the planet at any one time. In 2010, the…


Two large hurricanes have bashed the east coast of the United States as a third threatens U.S. territories, causing damage likely to eclipse that of Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history which killed 1,600 people and forced the evacuation of over 500,000 others. But as the storm waters recede, research tells us that communities will be hit by a wave of mental health problems as residents experience a sharp rise in anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What we have learned from Hurricane Katrina could help blunt some of these effects.

Aerial view after Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall. © AdobeStock

Five months after…


Reports around the National Football League (NFL) and concussions continue to become more alarming, creating a whirlwind of discussion heading into the 2017 season. Football legends Michael Bennett, Terrell Davis, and Kurt Warner are speaking up about their concerns. The day after a new study of 111 NFL players’ brains found that 110 showed signs of damage due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel quit the NFL to pursue a PhD in mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Earlier this month, ABC News reported that hundreds of players’ wives and widows are now connecting…


Early on in most forms of psychotherapy, the therapist asks about the patient’s childhood, how he or she felt when things went well or poorly, how frustration was tolerated and how conflicts were resolved. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to understand the reason for historical review: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Lifelong patterns of emotional and social behavior are established remarkably early in life. Scientific studies following people for decades after infancy have shown that many aspects of temperament –such as anxiety, irritability and calmness- are evident in the first six months of life…

Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D.

Director and CEO, the Lieber Institute for Brain Development

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