Archive for the ‘ New Research ’ Category

Why Breastfeeding Your Baby Longer Could Mean a Higher IQ

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Mother breastfeedingBreastfeeding is a difficult task for many mothers but, according to new research, prolonged nursing can help your child reap certain benefits in adulthood.

A study published in the Lancet Global Health journal concluded that a “longer duration of breastfeeding is linked with increased intelligence in adulthood, longer schooling, and higher adult earnings,” reports Science Daily.

Researchers followed nearly 3,500 newborns for 30 years and were able to establish that prolonged breastfeeding had a positive long-term effect on the individuals later in life. The most notable increase in good outcomes was connected to babies who had been breastfed for at least 12 months. As adults, they scored four points higher on IQ tests, attended school for a year longer, and made 15 percent more money, according to Time.

“The likely mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of breast milk on intelligence is the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHAs) found in breast milk, which are essential for brain development,” said Dr. Bernardo Lessa Horta, the study’s lead author. “Our finding that predominant breastfeeding is positively related to IQ in adulthood also suggests that the amount of milk consumed plays a role.”

All this makes the case that extended breastfeeding can have a good impact on a child’s development.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Manage Breastfeeding
How to Manage Breastfeeding
How to Manage Breastfeeding

Image: Mother breastfeeding via Shutterstock

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Is Your Parenting Style Creating Couch Potatoes?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Active ChildrenEvery mother or father has their own parenting style—each with its own pros and cons. But some parents who choose hyper-parenting (defined as “a child-rearing style in which parents are intensely involved in managing, scheduling, and enriching all aspects of their children’s lives”) may be raising kids who sit around too much.

A new study from Queen’s University in Ontario, has found a link between hyper-parents and their children being less physically active.

Children whose parents displayed extreme, attached parenting techniques (quite the opposite of free-range parenting!) ”spent less time outdoors, played fewer after-school sports, and were less likely to bike or walk to school, friends’ homes, parks and playgrounds than children with less-involved parents,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers collected information from 724 parents with children between the ages of 7 and 12. Parents were given questionnaires to determine if their parenting style ranked within four categories of hyper-parenting: overprotective parents (aka. helicopter parents), overindulgent parents, overscheduled parents, and overly achievement-driven parents (aka. tiger moms). Approximately 40 percent of parents received high hyper-parenting scores, while only 6 percent had low scores.

Parents who received low to below-average hyper-parenting scores in all four categories had the most active kids. Although helicopter parenting was the most common style, it was not directly associated with physically active kids, but the other three styles were associated with fewer active kids. According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers concluded that “the difference between children in the low and high hyper-parenting groups was equivalent to about 20 physical-activity sessions a week.”

Less active children only fuels the ongoing issue of childhood obesity, so the more that is known about a child’s physical activity—or lack thereof—the better.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Active children via Shutterstock

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How Depressed Dads Can Lead to Troubled Toddlers

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Sad boyIt has been proven that a mother’s depression has negative impacts on her children, but research was never done to provide information on whether or not a father’s depression has any effect—until now.

A recent study published online in the journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, has linked both mothers’ and fathers’ depression with troubling behaviors in children, in particular toddlers.

Researchers at Northwestern University gathered information from approximately 200 couples with 3-year-olds; the parents had all participated in a depression study at the time of their child’s birth. Each individual filled out a questionnaire that asked about “parental depression, their relationship with their partner, and their child’s internalizing behaviors (sadness, anxiety, jitteriness) and externalizing behaviors (acting out, hitting, lying),” reports Science Daily.

The study concluded that each parent’s level of depression impacted their child’s behaviors both internally and externally, and that paternal postnatal depression had a significant impact on toddler behavior. Depression affected children much more negatively than parental fighting because depressed parents were less likely to make eye contact, smile, bond, or engage with kids.

With this information, doctors may now begin to monitor both parents’ levels of depression—rather than only focusing on a mother’s potential for postpartum depression.

“Father’s emotions affect their children,” said Sheehan Fisher, the study’s lead author. “New fathers should be screened and treated for postpartum depression, just as we do for mothers.”

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?

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Pregnant Women Are Gaining More Weight Than Needed

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Pregnant BellyGaining weight during pregnancy is inevitable—after all, your body is carrying another human—but moms need to be careful about packing on unneeded pounds or extra “baby weight.”

New research confirms that nearly half of women (47 percent) gain more than they should while pregnant, which can have a potentially negative impact on both the infant and mother.

Many professionals, including Dr. Karen Cooper, ob-gyn and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Be Well Moms program, believe misconceptions are to blame. “Most women feel that pregnancy is the time when weight does not matter and it is an opportunity to eat as much as desired,” she said. “Most believe the myth that the weight will be lost quickly and easily after delivery.”

The study, which was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, collected information from more than 44,000 mothers who gave birth between 2010 and 2011. The women were separated into categories based on whether their body mass index (BMI) were deemed underweight, at a normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Only 32 percent of the study’s participants gained an amount that fell within the recommended guidelines for their weight category. According to Health Day, the “Institute of Medicine guidelines recommend gaining 25 to 35 pounds if normal weight at the start of pregnancy; 28 to 40 pounds if underweight; 15 to 25 pounds if overweight; and 11 to 20 pounds if obese at the start of pregnancy.”

The findings showed a direct relationship between high BMI and more weight gain during pregnancy than was recommended. Those who were overweight or obese prior to becoming pregnant were two to three times more likely to gain excess weight, than those at a normal weight.

Not only does a mother’s weight influence how large the newborn will be, but gaining too much weight can increase the risk of premature birth. The newborn is also more likely to develop conditions like hypertension and gestational diabetes, according to Dr. Cooper.

Experts do not recommend dieting during pregnancy, so it’s best to regulate your weight by making health-conscious choices when it comes to eating food and staying active—and to not let any weight worries get the best of you.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need

Image: Pregnant belly via Shutterstock

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Want to Know Your Child’s Potential Risk for Diseases — Years Before a Diagnosis?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

If given the choice, would you want to know about your child’s risk for hereditary diseases years before they surface?

A new advancement in technology, called whole genome sequencing, will now make that possible—and 58 percent of parents surveyed have already expressed interest in testing their children, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System.

Whole genome sequencing examines DNA using a small amount of blood or saliva in order to determine a risk of genetic disease, or to diagnose active diseases or their symptoms. The technology is currently being used for patients who have yet to be diagnosed but who are displaying symptoms.

The research, which appears in the journal Public Health Genomics, was conducted to gauge the population’s interest in using whole genome sequencing to discover their potential for certain genetic diseases (such as cancers or Alzheimer’s) in the future—and around 59 percent of the total population confirmed their interest while almost 62 percent showed interest for themselves, reports Science Daily. Also, nonparents who were planning to have their first child within the next five years were more interested in whole genome sequencing than current parents were.

As with the introduction of any new medical technology, there are always additional factors to consider. “While sequencing could reveal risk of a handful of rare and preventable diseases, authors note there is concern for how accurately the information would be interpreted and how useful it will actually be for patients,” notes Science Daily.

When it comes to testing children, some experts believe it should be delayed until the child is old enough to understand and participate in the decision themselves. Because a disease your child may be at risk for—but may not even end up having—could take years to emerge and certain cures may still be unavailable, early knowledge may not be beneficial. Instead of dwelling on an uncertain reality, making more healthful choices may be beneficial.

“We want our patients to be active participants in their health; however, the value of genome sequencing in helping individuals understand their disease risks is still controversial, especially for children,” said Daniel Dodson, the study’s lead author.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas

Image: DNA strand via Shutterstock

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