Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why growing up in a loving home boosts children's brains and makes them more intelligent

In general,  the sequence is likely to be that  smart kids tend to have loving parents.  High IQ people tend to have a lot of life's pluses and better childcare would be one of them.  And smart parents tend to have smart kids.  The IQ is a cause, not a result

In the case of severe deprivation, as we see below, however, the stimulation of a good home could make a difference

A loving family helps a child's brain to grow and increases their intelligence and mental abilities, a study suggests.

Researchers found that children in care have less grey and white matter - the two components of the central nervous system - than those brought up in a typical home environment.

Children in foster families have normal levels of white matter, which relays messages in the brain, but less of the grey matter which contains nerve cells and controls muscles, memory, emotions and speech.

Scientists believe the findings could explain why children who spend time in care are statistically more likely to develop issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mental health problems.

People who have been in care also have, on average, lower IQ and language skills than those who grew up in loving homes.

The differences in levels of grey and white matter is most likely to be due to varying levels of stimulation required for normal brain development, researchers said.

Many children in care have been exposed to deprivation and neglect, which could be linked to their lower levels of grey and white matter.

The improvement among those who were moved to foster families, however, indicates that it is possible to recover in terms of white matter, which affects learning ability.

The study team, led by researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital, examined MRI scans from Romanian orphans aged between eight and 11, some of whom had been transferred to quality foster care homes.

It has published almost 50 research papers since the project began.

Reporting their latest findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reesearchers wrote: 'In most forms of institutional rearing, the ratio of caregivers to children is low, care is highly regimented and caregiver investment in children is low.

'One of the most likely explanations for the wide range of developmental problems observed among children exposed to institutional rearing is that the deprived environment of an institution does not provide adequate experience on which to scaffold normal brain development.'

One of the study's authors, Dr Charles Nelson, a developmental neuroscientist in Boston, said the findings suggested that there was a sensitive period in the first two years of a child's life, when foster care has the greatest impact on their progress.

'The younger a child is when placed in foster care, the better,' he added.


Aspirin 'can reduce the risk of throat cancer' by targeting cells known to be high risk factor

There have been widespread findings of cancer prevention via aspirin so this may be a goer.  Anybody using aspirin daily should however get themselves checked for helicobacter pylori -- as aspirin  interacts with helicobacter pylori  to cause stomach irritation

Aspirin can reduce the risk of throat cancer, according to a new study.

Aspirin is already known to help stave off a host of diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and strokes, and now researchers say it can reduce the risk of oesophageal cancer.

Last year, 7,610 people in the UK died from oesophageal cancer and in 2009, 8,161 people were diagnosed with the incurable disease.

But researchers say taking aspirin can reduce the risk of Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a condition which affects the cells in the throat and which is the largest known risk factor for oesophageal cancer.

The incidence of oesophageal cancer has been increasing at an alarming rate, with current attempts at targeted screening focusing on identifying BE.

Previous studies have found nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly aspirin, have been associated with lower death rates for oesophageal cancer.

Although research has analysed NSAID and aspirin chemoprevention for oesophageal cancer or BE progression, few have explored whether the drugs can prevent BE.

Researchers analysed characteristics of 434 patients for factors that might be used in screening and management, discovering those taking aspirin were 44 per cent less likely to have BE.

Results in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology study also showed men were more than three times more likely to develop the condition than women.

The researchers warn people should not start taking high doses of aspirin to prevent throat cancer, but say further research is being done to see if aspirin should be a considered treatment.

Dr Chin Hur, of the the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Technology Assessment, said: 'The protective effect of aspirin use appears robust because the analyses suggests a dose-response relationship in which high-dose aspirin was significantly associated with decreased Barrett’s esophagus risk.

'It would not be advisable at this time for patients to start taking aspirin, particularly at higher doses, if preventing Barrett’s esophagus is the only goal.

'However, if additional data confirms our findings and an individual at high risk for development of Barrett’s esophagus and oesophageal cancer also could derive additional benefits, most notably cardiovascular, aspirin could be a consideration.'


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