Friday, October 02, 2009

Too many lollies (candies) 'may lead to jail' (?)

I am pleased that proper caution is expressed below about this finding. There is a weak tendency for delay of gratification to be a consistent trait so that could be involved

CHILDREN who eat too many lollies are more likely to become violent criminals as adults, new research finds. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, followed more than 17,000 children over four decades. The British researchers found of the children who consumed lollies and chocolate daily at the age of 10, 69 per cent were later arrested for a violent offence, the Associated Press reports.

But while the researchers said the results were interesting, more studies were needed to confirm the link. “It's not that the sweets themselves are bad, it's more about interpreting how kids make decisions,” said Simon Moore of the University of Cardiff, one of the paper's authors.

Mr Moore said parents who bribed their children into good behaviour with sweets could be doing them more harm than good, as the treats might prevent their offsprings from learning about deferring gratification, leading to impulsive behaviour and violence instead.

But the study stopped short of recommending parents stop giving the sugary treats. “This is an incredibly complex area,'' Mr Moore said. “It's not fair to blame it on the candy.''

While the study took into account other variables, including different parenting skills and varying social and economic backgrounds, these factors failed to alter the researchers’ findings.


Baby cooling therapy ‘cuts risk of brain damage from oxygen deprivation’

A therapy for newborn babies based on lowering the body temperature could significantly reduce the risk of brain damage after oxygen starvation at birth.

Complications such as the umbilical cord becoming twisted cause babies to be deprived of oxygen in about 2 in 1,000 births and can frequently result in cerebral palsy or other neurological problems. In standard treatment babies are placed in an incubator, kept warm and helped to breathe using a ventilator. However, a large-scale clinical trial published today reveals that babies have better long-term outcomes if they are cooled down by a few degrees instead.

The study, involving 325 newborn infants, showed a 57 per cent reduction in the risk of brain damage when babies were given the cooling therapy compared with standard treatment. The treatment is effective because cooling slows down the metabolism and can provide a window during which neurons that have been deprived of oxygen but are not irreparably damaged can recover, according to scientists.

The “delayed cell death” effect that occurs after oxygen deprivation is comparable to what happens when you burn your skin, explained Professor Marianne Thoresen, a specialist in neonatal neuroscience at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the study. “Some cells are killed immediately and you can’t rescue, but others can be saved if you immediately put your hand under cold water,” she said. Reducing oxygen metabolism throughout the body means that, relative to demand, there is more oxygen available to cells, allowing them more quickly to re-establish a chemical equilibrium.

The study, which is published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, recruited newborn babies who were suffering from oxygen deprivation from hospitals across Britain. Outward symptoms included being blue in the face, being unable to breathe unaided, lack of a heartbeat and low blood pressure.

325 babies took part in the research carried out between 2002 and 2006, with 163 receiving intensive care with cooling and 162 receiving standard intensive care. The standard care group were kept in incubators, which maintained the babies’ body temperatures at 37C. The babies in the cooled group were wrapped up in a specially designed blanket with circulating cold fluid so that their body temperature was lowered to 34-35C. After 72 hours of cooling the babies were slowly warmed back to a normal body temperature.

In the standard care group 42 of the infants were found to have severe disabilities 18 months later, compared with only 32 of the infants who had received the cooling treatment. Mortality rates were not significantly different for the two groups, however. The Co-chief investigator, Dr Denis Azzopardi, from Imperial College London, said: “The study builds on a 20-year body of research but gives, for the first time, irrefutable proof that cooling can be effective in reducing brain damage after birth asphyxia.”

Previous studies have shown the technique to be highly effective in treating animals. NICE is considering whether to make cooling therapy a recommended NHS treatment, based on the results of the study.

Professor Thoresen began investigating the technique after discovering that it was routinely used by a Swedish obstetrician in the 1950s. She was also persuaded by anecdotal evidence that cooling the body down could help to protect neurons from long-term damage. “In Norway, we have very cold water and you hear these stories of a five-year-old falling through the ice and being picked up half an hour later without any serious adverse affects,” she said.

Carmel Bartley, Family Support Manager from the children’s charity Bliss, said: “This is very welcome research into an area which is known to save lives. Cooling of babies with birth asphyxia is an innovative technique already being used in some neonatal centres. This is a specialist treatment that we would like to see used more widely to ensure the very best outcomes for our most vulnerable babies.”


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