Monday, May 19th, 2014
Women who smoke during pregnancy may be putting their babies at greater risk of ADHD and other disorders in which impulse control is compromised. A new study may have identified the specific brain changes that are behind this risk. More from Reuters:
People whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had weaker responses in the regions of their brains known to be involved in inhibition control, compared to those whose mothers didn’t smoke, researchers found.
Inhibition control relates to how people keep their impulses in check and resist distractions in certain situations.
“What’s quite surprising is to find such a reliable effect of prenatal smoke exposure that occurred 25 years before,” Nathalie Holz said.
Holz is the study’s lead author from Mannheim/Heidelberg University in Germany.
She and her colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry that about 22 percent of European women smoke and about half of them continue to smoke during pregnancy.
Smoking while pregnant has been tied to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among kids. Children with the condition usually have trouble concentrating and controlling their impulses.
“Now we were interested in what the specific mechanisms are behind this association,” Holz said.
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Image: Pregnant woman smoking, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 12th, 2011
A new study of 4-year-old children found that just nine minutes spent watching fast-paced shows like the Nickelodeon television program SpongeBob SquarePants can cause short-term learning and attention problems, The Associated Press reports.
The study, which was published online in the journal Pediatrics, was small, researchers caution (only 60 children were involved), so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. But the findings did show that children who watched SpongeBob scored measurably worse on mental function and impulse control tests than children who either watched the slower-paced PBS program Caillou or drew pictures for nine minutes.
SpongeBob, researchers said, is not the problem per se, but it is an example of a type of fast-paced programming that has a short-term impact on children’s attention:
University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard, the lead author, said Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob” shouldn’t be singled out. She found similar problems in kids who watched other fast-paced cartoon programming.
She said parents should realize that young children are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching such shows. “I wouldn’t advise watching such shows on the way to school or any time they’re expected to pay attention and learn,” she said.
A Nickelodeon spokesperson told the AP that the study was unfair because SpongeBob is made for older kids, 6-11 years old.
(image via: http://spongebob-squarepants.otavo.tv)
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