Thursday, July 03, 2008

Present-day kids happier than kids of 20 years ago

Looks like a pretty good base for comparison was used

They may be fatter, glummer and living under clouds of global terrorism and climate change, but children today are more emotionally stable than 20 years ago. Despite rising rates of childhood obesity and depression and more older, working and single mothers, there's no evidence Australian children have more problems than they did in the 1980s.

Parallel studies by the Australian Institute of Family Studies reveal that two decades ago, children were less sociable, less persistent and more intense than those today. Two studies comparing temperament and behavioural issues among toddlers and young primary schoolers, then and now, show children growing up with hip-hop and computer games in the new millennium are probably better socially adjusted than those raised watching Madonna on MTV and riding bikes around neighborhood streets unbothered by stranger danger.

The twin studies, of almost 2500 children from 1983-1990 and about 10,000 children since 2004, found many more two to three-year-olds had trouble falling asleep 20 years ago, and showed greater signs of aggression and destructiveness. And although behavioural problems among six to seven-year-olds were very low in both eras, significantly more kids of the '80s suffered from worries and fears as well as conduct problems such as restlessness, fidgeting, fighting and disobedience.

Children's school report cards revealed the biggest generational differences. Anecdotal evidence from experienced teachers suggested children behave worse at school now than they did 20 years ago. [The erosion of discipline is the main susppect there]


Gene discovery may help to fight Crohn's disease

The number of genes linked to the bowel condition Crohn's disease has been trebled by research that provides promising targets for better therapies. The discovery of 21 new genes and genetic regions brings to 32 the number of DNA passages known to raise susceptibility to the condition, which affects between one in 500 and one in 1,000 people, causing inflammation of the gut, pain, ulcers and diarrhoea. The research has highlighted links between Crohn's and other conditions, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, many of which were unexpected.

Miles Parkes, of the University of Cambridge, a leading member of the study team, said: "We are building up a picture of the biology underlying Crohn's disease, and the more we understand about the underlying biology of these diseases, the better equipped we will be to treat them."

The study, which is published in the journal Nature Genetics, is based on DNA data taken from almost 12,000 people, from Britain, the Continent and North America.


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