Friday, October 31st, 2014
It’s in the genes, according to a new study published in the journal Intelligence.
Professors from several universities including Florida State University and the University of Nebraska sought out to answer a common nature-versus-nurture question: “Can parents make their kids smarter?”
They found that when it comes to a child’s intelligence in adulthood, genetics—not parental socialization—is key.
Florida State 24/7 reports:
…examined a nationally representative sample of youth alongside a sample of adopted children from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and found evidence to support the argument that IQ is not the result of parental socialization.
The study analyzed parenting behaviors and whether they had an effect on verbal intelligence as measured by the Picture Vocabulary Test (PVT). The IQ tests were administered to middle and high school students, and again when they were between the ages of 18 and 26.
“Previous research that has detected parenting-related behaviors affect intelligence is perhaps incorrect because it hasn’t taken into account genetic transmission,” study author Kevin Beaver told Florida State 24/7. “In previous research, it looks as though parenting is having an effect on child intelligence, but in reality the parents who are more intelligent are doing these things and it is masking the genetic transformation of intelligence to their children.”
But don’t stop the bedtime stories and dinner-table discussions just yet. While this study says IQ may not be affected by these activities, there’s certainly another benefit to them: invaluable parent-child bonding.
For more information on reading with your child, check out our age-by-age guide to reading to babies and 7 ways to encourage a love of reading here.
Photo of mom reading with kids courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Pregnant women should think twice before using flame-retardant items. According to a new study, children of women who used items with flame retardants were measured to have lower IQs and higher hyperactivity. More from ScienceDaily.com:
A new study involving Simon Fraser University researchers has found that prenatal exposure to flame retardants can be significantly linked to lower IQs and greater hyperactivity in five-year old children. The findings are published online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers found that a 10-fold increase in PBDE concentrations in early pregnancy, when the fetal brain is developing, was associated with a 4.5 IQ decrement, which is comparable with the impact of environmental lead exposure.
SFU health sciences professor Bruce Lanphear is part of the research team that measured the levels of flame retardants, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, (PBDEs) in 309 U.S. women at 16 weeks of pregnancy, and followed their children to the age of five.
Researchers say their results confirm earlier studies that found PBDEs, which are routinely found in pregnant women and children, may be developmental neurotoxicants.
PBDEs have been widely used as flame retardants in furniture, carpet padding, car seats and other consumer products over the past three decades. While most items containing PBDEs were removed voluntarily from the market a decade ago, some are still in commerce and others persist in the environment and human bodies. Nearly all homes and offices still contain some PBDEs.
“The results from this and other observational human studies support efforts to reduce Penta-BDE exposures, especially for pregnant women and young children,” says Lanphear. “Unfortunately, brominated flame retardants are persistent and North Americans are likely exposed to higher PBDE levels than people from other parts of the world. Because of this it is likely to take decades for the PBDE levels in our population to be reduced to current European or Asian levels.”
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) added two of three existing commercial PBDE formulas to the list of banned Persistent Organic Pollutants (PIPs) due to concerns over toxicity in wildlife and mammals in 2009. While PBDEs were voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, products manufactured before then may still contain PBDEs, which can continue to be released into the environment and accumulate via indoor dust.
The latest research highlights the need to reduce inadvertent exposure to PBDEs in the home and office environment (e.g., via dust), and in diet (e.g., via fish or meat products), to avert potential developmental neurotoxicity in pregnant women and young children.
Lanphear says additional research is needed to highlight the impact of PBDE exposure on the developing brain. He also notes that it is important to investigate related chemicals and other flame retardants used to replace PBDEs.
Image: Pregnant woman in white and respirator holds belly isolated on white background via ShutterStock
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Thursday, September 1st, 2011
Canadian researchers say that having an actively engaged dad makes a child more intelligent and less prone to behavior problems, The Montreal Gazette reports.
A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science followed 138 children over several years. The children took intelligence tests and their mothers completed questionnaires about their home environment.
The researchers found that a positive, hands-on dad benefits his children even if he does not live with them, Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in psychology at Concordia University in Montreal and the study’s lead author, told the Gazette.
“Regardless of whether fathers lived with their children, their ability to set appropriate limits and structure their children’s behavior positively influenced problem-solving and decreased emotional problems, such as sadness, social withdrawal and anxiety,” Pougnet said.
The researchers also stressed that children can do well even if their fathers are absent. From the Gazette:
“While our study examined the important role dads play in the development of their children, kids don’t necessarily do poorly without their fathers,” stresses co-author Lisa A. Serbin, a professor in the Concordia Department of Psychology and a CRDH member.
(image via: http://www.lessonsofadad.com)
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