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Does a Higher Birth Weight = Better Academic Performance?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Heavier Newborns Do Better In SchoolCan birth weight affect your child’s future academic performance? A new large-scale study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University says yes.

According to a news release:

The research suggests that babies who weigh more at birth have higher test scores from third through eighth grade. The relationship is apparent even among twins; heavier-born twins have higher average test scores in third through eighth grade than their lighter-born twin.

Even the advantage of attending a higher quality school was not enough to compensate for the disadvantage of a lower birth rate, according to the study. The low birth-rate advantage held up across the board for all children — regardless of race, socioeconomic status, enrichment experiences provided by parents, maternal education and a host of other factors.

Researchers merged birth data and school records of all children born in Florida between 1992 and 2002 — that’s more than 1.3 million kids — to reach these conclusions. However, in an article in The New York Times, study co-author David N. Figlio said this is most likely the first of many more studies that will be conducted on this subject, mentioning that weight may just be “a proxy for other aspects of fetal health that more time in the womb would not improve.”

It’s also important to note that babies born at a higher birth weight can also often be, depending on their weight, at an increased risk for a number of other health complications. And birth weight is definitely not the end all, be all for your child’s success in school—take a look at these 15 ways you can boost your child’s success in school.

Your Baby Is Almost Here: Week 35 of Pregnancy to Birth
Your Baby Is Almost Here: Week 35 of Pregnancy to Birth
Your Baby Is Almost Here: Week 35 of Pregnancy to Birth

Photo of little girl courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Guess What Helps Your Baby’s Memory? A New Study Says…

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Study Suggests Babies Remember Positive Memories Better Than Negative

The way you talk to your baby may affect what he remembers, new research suggests.

According to a study published in Infant Behavior and Development, researchers at Brigham Young University have determined that babies are more likely to remember things when they’re paired with positive associations rather than negative ones.

According to a news release, researchers monitored the babies’ eye movements and how long they looked at a test image.

The babies were set in front of a flat paneled monitor in a closed off partition and then exposed to a person on screen speaking to them with either a happy, neutral or angry voice. Immediately following the emotional exposure, they were shown a geometric shape.

To test their memory, the researchers did follow-up tests 5 minutes later and again one day later. In the follow-up test, babies were shown two side-by-side geometric shapes: a brand new one, and the original one from the study.

The researchers found that by recording both the amount of time babies looked at each image and how many times they looked from one image to another, the babies who had images paired with negative voices couldn’t remember the shape, but when the shapes were paired with a pleasant voice they could remember significantly more.

“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” lead author of the study Ross Flom said in the news release. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

Babies’ memories start to develop as soon as they’re born. Follow more tips to boost your baby’s memory during her first year.

Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities
Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities
Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities

Photo of a happy baby courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Report: The Best Way to Treat Eczema in Kids Is…

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Children Diagnosed With Eczema On the RiseFor the roughly 10 percent of U.S. children who have been diagnosed with eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, a topical skin treatment is the best way to manage the chronic condition, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests.

While many parents have feared treating their children with topical steroid creams, the AAP reports that they are safe and can be the most effective way to improve quality of life for children who are suffering.

A news release from the AAP states:

Treating atopic dermatitis is important because of the tremendous impact it has on the quality of life of children and their families. Managing the condition can include an action plan for families that includes recommendations on frequency of bathing, prescription medications, moisturizers and antihistamines.

An article published in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month posed the question, “Are You Bathing Your Baby Too Much?” While a number of factors can potentially lead to developing eczema, like genetics, environmental factors like how often your child is bathed can also play a role. The AAP currently recommends bathing your baby three times a week or less, however a study conducted by the market-research firm Mintel Group found that households reported using baby shampoos and bathing products closer to five times a week, according the WSJ.

Several studies as mentioned in Pediatrics have reported that eczema diagnoses among children are on the rise over the past several years, with 65 to 95 percent of eczema cases being diagnosed in children ages 1 to 5 years old.

Does your child have eczema? Read about this mom’s experience with her son’s severe eczema, and be sure to consult your healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding your child’s condition and treatment procedures.

How to Treat Eczema
How to Treat Eczema
How to Treat Eczema

Photo of baby with eczema courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Antibiotic Treatment During Pregnancy May Lead to Obesity Risk for Child

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Antibiotics During Pregnancy Can Lead to Obesity in ChildrenTaking antibiotics during your second or third trimester may lead to your child’s likelihood to develop obesity, new research shows.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity evaluated 436 mother and child pairs and followed the children until they were 7 years old.

The study reports that kids who were exposed to antibiotics during the second or third trimester had an 84 percent higher chance of obesity compared to those who weren’t exposed during the second or third trimesters, after adjusting for several variables.

The study did not look into what kinds of antibiotics the women took. And it’s important to note that while some infections can get better on their own, others require antibiotic treatment to heal—and avoiding treatment could cause even more harm to the mother and developing child.

“The current findings in and of themselves shouldn’t change clinical practice,” Noel T. Mueller, the study’s lead author told The New York Times. “If they hold up in other prospective studies, then they should be part of the equation when considering antibiotic usage. There are many legitimate uses for antibiotics during pregnancy.”

Remember: If you’re pregnant and think you might need to take an antibiotic, always consult your healthcare provider and ask her about any questions or concerns you might have. You can read more about antibiotics and pregnancy here

Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns

Photo of pregnant woman taking pills courtesy of Shutterstock

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How a Text Message Could Help Make Your Child Smarter

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Text Messaging Could Help Improve Language Skills for PreschoolersHelping build your preschooler’s language skills may be just a text message away, new research suggests.

According to a study conducted by Stanford University researchers in local San Francisco preschools, a text messaging program targeted at parents of preschoolers helped to significantly increase the number of in-home literacy-based activities like “telling stories, going over words that rhyme, or completing puzzles together,” a news release states. Even better, these activities, in turn, led to higher scores on literacy-based tests among the children.

Researchers with the Stanford Graduate School of Education created the program, called READY4K! The program periodically sent text messages to parents offering tips on how they could engage with their child to develop early literacy skills.

Sample text messages included reminders like: “Say two words to your child that start with the same sound, like happy & healthy.”

A news release states:

Three texts were sent each week throughout the school year to the participating parents of four-year-olds. On Mondays, parents received a general fact about the benefits of a certain literacy skill. On Wednesdays, parents got a specific tip on something they could do to work with their child on building that skill. On Fridays, parents received ideas on how they can take it a step further.

“I believe that all families want to be involved in their child’s learning, but many feel they don’t have the time or perceive that supporting their child’s learning might be labor intensive or something that the teacher is better at,” Meenoo Yashar, Executive Director of Program Quality & Enhancement at the San Francisco Unified School District, said in the news release.

“The texting program offered some simple nuggets around literacy strategies and validated that families do want to be involved, if given information that is easy to receive and useful.”

It’s never too early to encourage reading and writing skills for your little one. Read about more ways you can help foster your child’s interest in learning here.

Why Preschool Matters
Why Preschool Matters
Why Preschool Matters

Photo of dad and son courtesy of Shutterstock.

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