Thursday, May 08, 2008

Television stunts children's growth?

When will we hear the end of this nonsense? All that the study found was that working class mothers talk to their kids less when the kids are watching TV. Who knew? All the rest is speculation. There is also a line of thought that says that TV gives a high level of visual stimulation which helps brain development. Journal Abstract follows the media version below

Mothers who let their babies watch TV are stalling their development, potentially ruining their chances of success at school. New research has found that few mums talk to their babies while the tots watch TV, though the interaction is vital for long-term development and behaviour. The US study found almost 97 per cent of six-month-olds watch an average of two hours of TV a day. Just a third of under-twos were watching educational shows and half were watching programs not intended for young children.

Talk between parent and child occurred in less than a quarter of viewings. But when mums and babies sat down together to watch an educational show, almost two-thirds interacted. US Academy of Paediatrics guidelines suggest children should not watch TV before the age of two. Australian experts recognise that infants will watch some TV, but it should be limited.

Study author Dr Alan Mendelsohn, from the New York University School of Medicine, said: "Our conclusions are especially significant because parent-infant interactions have huge ramifications for early child development, as well as school advancement and success during adolescence."

Young Media Australia president Jane Roberts said Australian infants watched an average of 44 minutes of TV a day. But she said: "There is no show produced here, or imported, that is made for under 12 months old. At best, it's made for children from about 18 months." Ms Roberts said television did not meet any of the developmental needs of babies: "They need response and interaction, and you don't get that from TV." And it was not just the limited verbal interaction involved in viewing, but the lack of social and emotional interaction.

The study, published in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found interaction increased when the baby was a first-born and among mothers who regularly read to their child.


Infant Television and Video Exposure Associated With Limited Parent-Child Verbal Interactions in Low Socioeconomic Status Households

By Alan L. Mendelsohn et al.

Objective: To assess verbal interactions related to television and other electronic media exposure among mothers and 6 month-old-infants.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of 154 mother-infant dyads participating in a long-term study related to early child development.

Setting: Urban public hospital.

Participants: Low socioeconomic status mothers of 6-month-old infants.

Main Exposure: Media exposure and content.

Main Outcome Measures: Mother-infant verbal interaction associated with media exposure and maternal coviewing.

Results: Of 154 low socioeconomic status mothers, 149 (96.8%) reported daily media exposure in their infants, with median exposure of 120 (interquartile range, 60-210) minutes in a 24-hour period. Among 426 program exposures, mother-infant interactions were reported during 101 (23.7%). Interactions were reported most frequently with educational young child-oriented media (42.8% of programs), compared with 21.3% of noneducational young child-oriented programs (adjusted odds ratio, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.98) and 14.7% of school-age/teenage/adult-oriented programs (adjusted odds ratio, 0.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.3). Among coviewed programs with educational content, mothers reported interactions during 62.7% of exposures. Coviewing was not reported more frequently for educational young child-oriented programs.

Conclusions: We found limited verbal interactions during television exposure in infancy, with interactions reported for less than one-quarter of exposures. Although interactions were most commonly reported among programs with educational content that had been coviewed, programs with educational content were not more likely to be coviewed than were other programs. Our findings do not support development of infant-directed educational programming in the absence of strategies to increase coviewing and interactions.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(5):411-417.

Little limbs raise risk of Alzheimer's

Epidemiologists do have some shame after all. I rather expected this to be a claim that short arms CAUSE Alzheimer's

MEN and women with short arms and legs are more likely to develop Alzheimer's in later life, scientists claim. They believe every extra inch on a limb can help to protect against the disease. For women, every additional inch (2.5cm) of leg reduced the chances of developing any kind of dementia by 16 per cent and Alzheimer's by 22 per cent. For each extra inch of arm span, women were found to be about 10 per cent less likely to develop dementia. Those with the shortest arm span (less than 150cm between fingertips when arms were outstretched) were 1 1/2 times more likely to suffer mental decline. In men, each extra 2.5cm of arm span lowered the risk by 6 per cent.

The most likely explanation is poor nutrition in early life, which can affect the eventual length of limbs. The study was published yesterday in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and involved 2798 men and women in the US with an average age of 72. The findings were consistent with other studies done in Korea, where shorter limb length was associated with greater risk of dementia.


Gregorian chanting 'can reduce blood pressure and stress'

This seems reasonable, even if the research is very preliminary

Stress levels could be reduced simply by participating in some Gregorian chanting, researchers claimed today. Dr Alan Watkins, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London, revealed that teaching people to control their breathing and applying the musical structure of chanting can help their emotional state. He said: "We have recently carried out research that demonstrates that the regular breathing and musical structure of chanting can have a significant and positive physiological impact."

The research involved five monks having their heart rate and blood pressure measured throughout a 24-hour period. Results showed their heart rate and blood pressure dipped to its lowest point in the day when they were chanting. Dr Watkins pointed to previous studies that also demonstrated such practices have been shown to lower blood pressure, increase performance hormone levels as well as reduce anxiety and depression. The lecturer also runs Cardiac Coherence Ltd, a company that helps executives perform under stressful conditions.

He said: "The control of the breathing, the feelings of wellbeing that communal singing bring, and the simplicity of the melodies, seem to have a powerful effect on reducing blood pressure and therefore stress." "We have found that teaching individuals to control their breathing, generate more positive emotional states and connect better with those around them - all key aspects of Gregorian chanting - can significantly improve their mental state, reduce tension, and increase their efficiency in the workplace."

Record company Universal recently chose the monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, Vienna to make an album after responding to a public interest in the genre. The company also believes the Halo computer game series, available on PCs and Xbox consoles, sparked a resurgence in the music traditionally sung in male church choirs, as Gregorian chant-like melodies form the main soundtrack of the games.


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