Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Children with regular sleep patterns 'smarter at school'

The usual naive rubbish. All they have shown is that well-organized middle class parents have smarter kids

Children who go to bed at the same time every night do better academically, a conference is to hear. Researchers found that children who had a regular bedtime performed better at languages, reading and maths than those who went to bed at different times.

Scientists at SRI International, an independent American research institute based in California, found the earlier a child went to bed, the better they performed at school.

The study of 8000 children who were aged four concluded those who had less than the recommended 11 hours of sleep each night fell behind in their studies.

The institute’s research, the largest of its kind, is due to be presented on Monday at a sleep conference hosted by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills,” said Dr Erika Gaylor, an early childhood policy researcher who led the study. "Paediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviours, which in turn lead to healthy sleep."

The researchers completed the developmental assessment on four year-old children. It also included analysis taken from on information on bedtimes that were conducted with parent during phone interviews when their child was nine months old and again when their child was four.

The findings found that having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes.

Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed.

Children who had an earlier bedtime also had a predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.

Dr Gaylor said the data also disclosed that many children were not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may have negative consequences for their development and school achievement.

She recommended parents set an appropriate time for their child to go to bed so they received sufficient levels of sleep. Parents, she added, should also interact with their child at bedtime using routines such as reading books or telling stories.

A previous study, published in Sleep Medicine in August last year, also emphasised the importance of an early bedtime and consistent bedtime routine for children. It reported that children with a bedtime after 9pm took longer to fall asleep and had a shorter total sleep time.

Children without a consistent bedtime routine also were reported to obtain less sleep.


Advances reported on two cancers

But you have to be either "the right patient" or risk dying from the treatment

Using two opposite strategies, scientists say they have made significant progress in taming two of the most intractable types of cancer. One approach, highly focused on specific types of tumors, shrank them significantly in 57 percent of patients with a lung cancer marked by a specific genetic abnormality.

Even though the clinical trial was small (just 82 people, with no control group), the results were considered so striking for such sick patients that the study will be featured today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. "This is a phenomenal example of finding the right patient and the right drug very early on," said Dr. Pasi A. Janne of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who was involved in the trial.

The other strategy is a potentially universal treatment for all types of cancer that works by releasing a brake on the body's immune system, letting the immune system attack the cancer more vigorously. In a study of patients who had advanced melanoma, those who got an experimental drug lived a median of about 10 months, compared with 6.4 months for those in a control group.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, which sponsored the trial, is planning to apply for regulatory approval to sell the drug, ipilimumab.

The lung cancer drug, by contrast, blocks an aberrant protein called ALK that is found in only about 5 percent of non-small-cell lung tumors. But in patients whose tumors have this aberration, the drug seems to work wonders. Not only did the tumors shrink in 57 percent of the 82 patients, they remained stable in 30 percent more.

Pfizer, which sponsored the study, has started a more definitive trial aimed at winning approval of the drug, crizotinib.

There are caveats. The effects of crizotinib can eventually wear off, though 72 percent of the patients in the trial were free of cancer progression for six months.

As for the melanoma drug, because it removes checks on the immune system, 10 percent to 15 percent of patients who took it in the study suffered severe side effects that had to be treated with immune-damping steroids. Seven patients out of 540 who got ipilimumab died from these immune effects, according to a report of the study published online yesterday by The New England Journal of Medicine.


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