Nav: Home

Risk-taking, antisocial teens 5 times more likely to die young

August 10, 2018

Adolescents with serious conduct and substance use problems are five times more likely to die prematurely than their peers, with roughly one in 20 dying by their 30s, according to new CU Boulder research.

The study, published today in the journal Addiction, also suggests that while drug and alcohol use among adolescents draws more attention, antisocial behavior--including rule-breaking tendencies--may be a more powerful predictor of early mortality.

"This research makes it clear that youth identified with conduct problems are at extreme risk for premature mortality, beyond that which can be explained by substance use problems, and in critical need of greater resources," said lead author Richard Border, a graduate student with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.

For the study, Border and his colleagues looked at death rates among 1,463 adolescents who had been arrested or referred to counseling for substance use problems and/or "conduct disorder," a mental health disorder characterized by rule-breaking, aggression toward others, property destruction and deceitfulness or thievery.

They also followed 1,399 of their siblings and a control group of 904 adolescents of similar age and demographic background.

The researchers decided to do the study after, while following up with subjects from the ongoing Genetics of Antisocial Drug Dependence study launched in 1993, they made a troubling discovery: Several had already died. They used mortality data from the National Death Index to determine how many.

With an average follow-up age of 32.7 years, they found that 62 of the original study subjects--more than 4 percent--had died, compared to less than 1 percent of controls. Siblings of the study subjects also had higher mortality rates, with about 2.4 percent dying.

Substance-related deaths were the most common, along with traffic related deaths, suicides and deaths resulting from assaults.

"To see detailed, hard data from a cohort of adolescents we have been interviewing face-to-face over the years really makes tangible the dangers that these youth are facing as they go into adulthood," said co-author John Hewitt, IBG director. "It's a strikingly poor outcome and should be a major public health concern."

When the researchers further analyzed the data, they were surprised to discover that while both conduct disorder and substance use severity were associated with increased mortality risk, conduct disorder was a more powerful independent risk factor.

"We pay a lot of attention to substance use and it is definitely important, but we don't put as much attention on rule breaking," said Hewitt. "Perhaps we should."

Between 6 to 16 percent of boys and 2 to 9 percent of girls meet the criteria to be diagnosed with conduct disorder, previous studies show. Previous CU Boulder research suggests that genetic variants may play a role in making a child more prone to risk-taking or anti-social behaviors.

Because the study focused on youth whose conduct was serious enough they had been arrested or referred to therapy, it's uncertain to what degree the findings apply to the broader population.

But the takeaway is clear, said Hewitt.

"If you have an adolescent who is exhibiting extreme conduct problems, seek help. It is not just a matter of stopping them from doing bad things. It could be a matter of keeping them alive."
-end-


University of Colorado at Boulder

Related Attention Articles:

Training changes the way the brain pays attention
Behavioral training changes the way attention facilitates information processing in the human brain, a study publishing on June 27 in the open access journal PLOS Biology led by Sirawaj Itthipuripat, at University of California San Diego, has found.
Strategic studying limits the costs of divided attention
Multitasking while studying may impair overall memory for the study material, but your ability to strategically identify and remember the most important information may stay intact, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
More brain activity is not always better when it comes to memory and attention
Potential new ways of understanding the cause of cognitive impairments, such as problems with memory and attention, in brain disorders including schizophrenia and Alzheimer's are under the spotlight in a new research review.
Kids should pay more attention to mistakes, study suggests
Children who believe intelligence can grow pay more attention to and bounce back from their mistakes more effectively than kids who think intelligence is fixed, indicates a new study that measured the young participants' brain waves.
'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain'
The Wizard of Oz told Dorothy to 'pay no attention to that man behind the curtain' in an effort to distract her, but a new Princeton University study sheds light on how people learn and make decisions in real-world situations.
How much attention do drivers need to pay?
MiRA, which takes a systems view of the driver in the context of the environment, represents a step toward the detection and classification of inattention.
How visual attention selects important information
Researchers at Tohoku University have revealed multiple functions of visual attention, the process of selecting important information from retinal images.
Other people are less attention-grabbing to the wealthy
The degree to which other people divert your attention may depend on your social class, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention
Researchers led by Dr Tobias Bast in the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham have found that faulty inhibitory neurotransmission and abnormally increased activity in the hippocampus impairs our memory and attention.
Early exposure to manganese causes attention deficits in rats
Too much manganese early in development causes lasting attention deficits and other impairments in rats.

Related Attention Reading:

ATTENTION: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction
by Joshua Cohen (Author)

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
by Tim Wu (Author)

The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind
by B. Alan Wallace (Author), Daniel Goleman (Foreword)

Attention: Beyond Mindfulness
by Gay Watson (Author)

Attention Pays: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability
by Neen James (Author)

Pay Attention, Please! Games and Activities to Improve Attention, Focus & Listening Skills
by Sherrill B. Flora (Author)

Attention (New Problems of Philosophy)
by Wayne Wu (Author)

Attention: Theory and Practice
by Addie Johnson (Author), Robert W Proctor (Author)

Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life
by Sari Solden (Author), MS (Author), LMFT (Author)

Can I Have Your Attention?: Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace
by Curt Steinhorst (Author), Jonathan McKee (Contributor)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Hacking The Law
We have a vision of justice as blind, impartial, and fair — but in reality, the law often fails those who need it most. This hour, TED speakers explore radical ways to change the legal system. Guests include lawyer and social justice advocate Robin Steinberg, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise, political activist Brett Hennig, and lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#495 Earth Science in Space
Some worlds are made of sand. Some are made of water. Some are even made of salt. In science fiction and fantasy, planet can be made of whatever you want. But what does that mean for how the planets themselves work? When in doubt, throw an asteroid at it. This is a live show recorded at the 2018 Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. Featuring Travor Valle, Mika McKinnon, David Moscato, Scott Harris, and moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Note: The sound isn't as good as we'd hoped but we love the guests and the conversation and we wanted to...