Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Despite the idea that kids would be playing and moving around outside during the summer months, new research from Harvard University shows that summertime is actually when kids are most at risk of packing on pounds. Part of the reason may be school-led efforts to offer healthier lunches and ban sugary drinks, but also at fault could be sedentary summer habits, less structure, and more (and less healthy) snacks. More from Today.com:
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at data from seven studies that included more than 10,000 kids ages 5 to 12 in the United States, Canada and Japan. In all but one of the studies published between 2005 and 2013, the findings suggested that weight gain accelerated among kids during the summer — mostly for black and Hispanic youngsters and children and teens who were already overweight.
“It’s especially those kids who are already at risk who are the most at risk during the summer,” said Rebecca Franckle, a Harvard doctoral student who led the study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
In one study of more than 5,300 kindergarten and first-graders in 310 U.S. schools, researchers found that the kids’ body mass index growth, one measure of excess weight, was more than twice as fast during summer vacation as during the school year.
“Although schools may not provide ideal environments for healthy BMI growth, it appears that they are healthier than most children’s non-school environment,” researchers concluded in the 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health.
About a third of children and teens in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, according to federal health estimates. Piling on extra weight at a young age can lead to serious health problems later in life.
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Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Children whose mothers work outside the home may be better prepared for and do better in kindergarten, according to a new study published by Boston University researchers. Though the study may ease the guilt some working moms feel, it is not a cut-and-dried finding that applies to every family. More from NBC News:
The effects are strongest for low-income kids. And in wealthy families, the older wisdom may hold true — the kids of working moms did not fare as well as children of at-home moms.
It’s only one study, and it contradicts a large body of older work. But the researchers, at Boston University, say it’s one of the first to look at 21st-century moms and kids.
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Monday, June 16th, 2014
Fathers are far more engaged with their children than they were four decades ago, according to a new British study that found that dads spend seven times as much time with their kids as they did during the 1970s. More from the Guardian:
While the time focused on their offspring still comes in at a fairly low average of 35 minutes a day for working fathers, it is far higher than the five minutes registered in 1974. Mothers’ quality time with their kids has also risen over the same period, from 15 minutes a day to an hour.
But while it would seem to be good news for children, the researchers found a worrying social disparity over how that extra time is spent. More educated parents were far more likely to report spending time helping their children with homework, while parents without further or higher education were less likely to get involved in any kind of learning activity.
The research, by Dr Almudena Sevilla of the school of business and management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville, used parent and child time diaries between 1974 and 2005 and looked at how parents divided heir time between work, leisure and childcare over a 24-hour period.
Sevilla said the research, to be presented at the ESRC Research Methods Festival this month, showed that, while the extra time given by mothers was coming out of their leisure time or time doing housework, fathers were finding more time out from their working lives, indicating more appreciation of the importance of fatherhood versus a career.
However, Sevilla said the main implication of the findings was about inequality. “If more educated parents are spending more time with their kids in valuable activities for their development, then children will be doing well. But what do you do about the children whose parents are not spending their time in these kind of educational activities? That’s the question for policy makers I think.
“With this data we couldn’t tell the impact on child development, but other research has been done that suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better for cognitive development.”
Find out what career your child will have and shop fun kids’ games.
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Friday, June 13th, 2014
Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors. More from NBC News:
The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.
On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.
And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.
But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.
“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.
“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Men who routinely carry smartphones in their pants pockets may end up with a lowered sperm count and lessened sperm quality, according to a new British study that examines the effects of the phones’ low levels of electromagnetic radiation. More from Time.com:
Even while the debate over whether cell phones cause cancer rages on, researchers are starting to explore other potentially harmful effects that the ubiquitous devices may have on our health. Because they emit low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR), it’s possible that they can disturb normal cell functions and even sleep.
And with male infertility on the rise, Fiona Mathews at the University of Exeter, in England, and her colleagues decided to investigate what role cell phones might play in that trend. In their new research, they analyzed 10 previous studies, seven of which involved the study of sperm motility, concentration and viability in the lab, and three that included male patients at fertility clinics. Overall, among the 1,492 samples, exposure-to-cell-phone EMR lowered sperm motility by 8%, and viability by 9%.
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