Anorexia could begin in the womb

Wednesday 1st April, 2009

Results from a new study claim the eating disorder anorexia could be a predisposed condition that begins during development in the womb.

If the claims are correct, thousands of girls and young women may be born with an increased risk of suffering with anorexia and the findings could lead to revolutionary new treatments.

The study challenges existing scientific knowledge that states anorexia is primarily caused by social factors such as self-image and pressure from society to look a certain way.

Anorexia charities believe the findings could alter the way anorexia is treated with the possibility of specific drugs being developed to treat the condition. There is also the potential to screen girls of a certain age to determine risk.

Results from the study carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London were unveiled at a conference last week.

The study looked at 200 anorexia sufferers in Britain, the US and Norway most of whom were female and aged 12-25. 70% were found to have damage to brain cell communication transmitters or had subtle changes to brain structure.

Researchers believe one in every two or three hundred could be affected in a similar way and the condition may be caused by random factors and not due to environment or poor diet during pregnancy alone.

An estimated one million people suffer with eating disorders in Britain with anorexia and bulimia being the most common condition.

Learn more about eating disorders here



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