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2 Kids Injured After Bounce House Blows Away

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

A bounce house that had two children inside blew across a field in Colorado on Saturday. A young girl was thrown about eight feet into the air and a boy was trapped in the bounce house. This happened just weeks after a similar incident occurred in upstate New York. More from TIME:

Witness Desiree Hunter described watching the structure tumble across the field “like a bag in the wind” in Littleton, Colo., KUSA reports.

The incident marks the second time in the past month that a bounce house has caused injuries after getting picked up by a gust of wind. Two young boys were injured in upstate New York in mid-May when they fell 15 feet out of an inflatable attraction that reached a height of 50 feet in the air.

Local officials said the girl was released on site while the boy, who was trapped in the bounce house as it traveled 200 to 300 feet, was taken into an ambulance. Police do not believe he suffered serious injuries.

Airbound, the company that manufactured the bounce house, did not respond to KUSA’s request for comment.

Similar incidents in the past few year have prompted Jim Barber, a National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials spokesman, to call bounce houses “probably the most dangerous amusement devices they have” in 2011.

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New Study: Give Kids Vegetables Early and Often

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Infants who are offered a vegetable early in life are more likely to eat it than older children who are first exposed to the vegetable later on, according to research from the University of Leeds. Picky eaters are able to eat more of a vegetable each time they are offered it. Moreover, the study revealed that vegetables do not have to be hidden in other foods for kids to eat them. More from ScienceDaily:

In the study, which was funded by the EU, the research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children from three countries aged from weaning age to 38 months. During the experiment each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of the artichoke puree in one of three versions: basic; sweetened, with added sugar; or added energy, where vegetable oil was mixed into the puree.

There was also little difference in the amounts eaten over time between those who were fed basic puree and those who ate the sweetened puree, which suggests that making vegetables sweeter does not make a significant difference to the amount children eat.

Younger children consumed more artichoke than older children. This is because after 24 months children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods — even those they previously liked. Among the children, four distinct groups emerged. Most children (40%) were “learners” who increased intake over time. Of the group, 21% consumed more than 75% of what was offered each time and they were called “plate-clearers.” Those who ate less than 10g even by the fifth helping were classified as “non-eaters,” amounting to 16% of the cohort, and the remainder were classified as “others” (23%) since their pattern of intake varied over time. Non-eaters, who tended to be older pre-school children, were the most fussy, the research found.

Globe artichoke was chosen as the sample vegetable because, as part of the research, parents were surveyed and artichoke was one of the least-offered vegetables. NHS guidelines are to start weaning children onto solid foods at six months.

The research has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Picky Eaters: 3 Ways To Encourage Healthy Eating
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How Learning in Adolescence May Help Keep Brain Cells Alive

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Kids who use their brains may be helping their brain cells survive, which could impact how their brains function after puberty, according to a recently published study in Frontiers inNeuroscience. Rutgers behavioral and systems neuroscientist Tracey Shors, who co-authored the study, says the ensuring students learn at the right level is crucial. More from ScienceDaily:

Shors found that the newborn brain cells in young rats that were successful at learning survived while the same brain cells in animals that didn’t master the task died quickly.

“In those that didn’t learn, three weeks after the new brain cells were made, nearly one-half of them were no longer there,” said Shors, professor in the Department of Psychology and Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers. “But in those that learned, it was hard to count. There were so many that were still alive.”

The study is important, Shors says, because it suggests that the massive proliferation of new brain cells most likely helps young animals leave the protectiveness of their mothers and face dangers, challenges and opportunities of adulthood.

Scientists have known for years that the neurons in adult rats, which are significant but fewer in numbers than during puberty, could be saved with learning, but they did not know if this would be the case for young rats that produce two to four times more neurons than adult animals.

By examining the hippocampus — a portion of the brain associated with the process of learning — after the rats learned to associate a sound with a motor response, scientists found that the new brain cells injected with dye a few weeks earlier were still alive in those that had learned the task while the cells in those who had failed did not survive.

“It’s not that learning makes more cells,” says Shors. “It’s that the process of learning keeps new cells alive that are already present at the time of the learning experience.”

Since the process of producing new brain cells on a cellular level is similar in animals, including humans, Shors says ensuring that adolescent children learn at optimal levels is critical.

“What it has shown me, especially as an educator, is how difficult it is to achieve optimal learning for our students. You don’t want the material to be too easy to learn and yet still have it too difficult where the student doesn’t learn and gives up,” Shors says.

So, what does this mean for the 12-year-old adolescent boy or girl?

While scientists can’t measure individual brain cells in humans, Shors says this study, on the cellular level, provides a look at what is happening in the adolescent brain and provides a window into the amazing ability the brain has to reorganize itself and form new neural connections at such a transformational time in our lives.

“Adolescents are trying to figure out who they are now, who they want to be when they grow up and are at school in a learning environment all day long,” says Shors. “The brain has to have a lot of strength to respond to all those experiences.”

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What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School

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A Mediterranean Diet May Keep Kids Slimmer

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Kids who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to be overweight or obese, according to a new study. Children who closely followed a diet rich in fish, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits were 15 percent less likely to be overweight, regardless of their age, sex, wealth or country. More from HealthDay:

Researchers looked at the weight and eating habits of more than 9,000 children in eight countries: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. The youngsters’ weight and body fat were checked at the start of the study and again two years later.

Swedish children scored highest and those in Italy were second in terms of following a Mediterranean-style diet, while youngsters in Cyprus were least likely to follow the diet, according to Dr. Gianluca Tognon of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and colleagues.

“The promotion of a Mediterranean dietary pattern is no longer a feature of Mediterranean countries,” the researchers said. “Considering its potential beneficial effects on obesity prevention, this dietary pattern should be part of [European Union] obesity prevention strategies and its promotion should be particularly intense in those countries where low levels of adherence are detected.”

The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria. Until they’re published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, findings presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary.

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Gay Dads’ Brains Adapt to Parenthood Just Like Straight Parents’ Brains

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Research has shown that a mom’s brain activity changes once she brings a new baby into the world. A new study published on May 26 concluded that gay dads’ brains also adapt to parenthood, in fact, their brain activity resembles that of new moms and dads. These findings could mean that adoption agencies will be more willing to work with gay couples. More from TIME:

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sought to determine whether mothers’ brains became hyper-reactive to emotional cues, like hearing their child cry after birth, because of hormonal changes or parenting experience. Researchers videotaped 89 new moms and dads taking care of their infants at home. They then measured parents’ brain activity in an MRI while the parents watched videos in which their children were not featured, followed by the footage shot in their home with their kids.

The 20 mothers in the study—all of whom were the primary caregivers—had heightened activity in the brain’s emotion-processing regions; the amygdala, a set of neurons that processes emotions, was five times more active than the baseline. The 21 heterosexual fathers had increased activity in their cognitive circuits, which helped them determine which of the baby’s body movements indicated the need for a new diaper and which ones signaled hunger.

The 48 gay fathers’ brain waves, on the other hand, responded similarly to both the heterosexual mom and dad. Their emotional circuits were as active as mothers’, and their cognitive circuits were as active as the fathers’. Researchers also found that the more time a gay father spent with the baby, the greater a connection there was between the emotional and cognitive structures.

Ruth Feldman, the study’s author and a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, wrote that changes in the amygdala occur in women due to pregnancy and childbirth hormones. Men’s brains, which are usually interpreting their child’s needs, only activate the emotion-processing amygdala when the mother isn’t around. For gay fathers, this means that their amygdala is working like a mother’s would all the time.

The researchers also tested levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, in all the parents and found no difference among the three groups. Feldman, an adjunct professor at Yale University, said this means all three groups are biologically ready for parenthood.

“Fathers’ brains are very plastic,” Ruth Feldman, the head of the study, said. “When there are two fathers, their brains must recruit both networks, the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting.”

Many U.S. adoption agencies do not accept applications from same-sex couples, and in some states it is against the law for a gay couple to apply jointly for custody of a child. This study suggests that, biologically, gay couples are fit to be parents as straight couples are, and could change the debate as to whether gay men should be allowed to adopt children.

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Baby Names: Is It Too Popular?
Baby Names: Is It Too Popular?

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