What happened in the Netherlands more than 60 years ago has given researchers clues to an association between deprivation and addiction.
The food shortage that occurred in Holland at the end of World War II, known as the "winter hunger", had a special effect on pregnant women, researchers found. The research was conducted jointly between the Dutch mental health care organisation, Bouman GGZ, and Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
The severe food deprivation caused the offspring of these women to be more prone to addiction later in life, the scientists concluded in a study published in the journal Addiction.
According to a news release from the journal, the researchers studied men and women born in Rotterdam between 1944 and 1947, which is when the severest famine occurred.
Strict rations lead to starvation
The Germans imposed a strict food ration on the Netherlands in retaliation for action by Dutch resistance fighters. Food supplies declined to extremely low levels between February and May 1945, resulting in starvation when average daily food consumption dropped to below 1 000 calories.
Lead author Ernst Franzek said the study found that the addictive effect is probably created during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The findings highlight "the adverse influence of maternal malnutrition on the mental health of the adult offspring, and give rise to great concern about the possible future consequences for the hunger regions in our world," Franzek said in the news release.
HealthDay News, January 2007
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