Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has linked frequent spanking of young children with problems including aggressive behavior and vocabulary and language delays later in childhood. More from CBS News:
Children who were spanked often early in life by their mothers were more likely to be aggressive later in childhood compared to kids who weren’t spanked at all, a study published in Pediatrics on Oct. 21 concluded. Being spanked by dads was also linked to vocabulary and language problems in kids.
“These effects are long-lasting. They aren’t just short-term problems that wash out over time. And the effects were stronger for those who were spanked more than twice a week,” co-author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, told HealthDay.
The study involved more than 1,900 families in 20 medium to large U.S. cities who were enrolled in the long-running Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. Parents were asked how often they spanked their child when he or she was age 3 and 5, and a child’s aggressive behavior and vocabulary were evaluated at 3 and 9 years.
In total, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spanked their child at the age of 3. When the child was 5, 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers spanked their kids.
Mothers who were still spanking their child by the age of 5 — no matter how often — were more likely to have a child who was more aggressive than his or her peers by the time they turned nine. Mothers who spanked their child at least twice a week when they were 3 also had children more likely to have these problem behaviors.
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.
Image: Parent angry with child, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 20th, 2013
The squeaks and puffs that babies and young toddlers make may actually be their way of imitating actual grammatical words, according to a new study that recorded tens of thousands of sounds made by French-speaking children between 23 and 37 months of age. The findings could have implications for how researchers understand language development and delays, and how they treat it. More from LiveScience:
“Many of the toddlers we studied made a small sound, a soft breath, or a pause, at exactly the place that a grammatical word would normally be uttered,” [Newcastle University researcher Cristina] Dye said in a statement.
“The fact that this sound was always produced in the correct place in the sentence leads us to believe that young children are knowledgeable of grammatical words. They are far more sophisticated in their grammatical competence than we ever understood.”
Though Dye was studying French-speaking toddlers, she and her colleagues expect their findings to apply to other languages as well. She also thinks their results could have implications for understanding language delay in children.
“When children don’t learn to speak normally it can lead to serious issues later in life,” Dye said in a statement. “For example, those who have it are more likely to suffer from mental illness or be unemployed later in life. If we can understand what is ‘normal’ as early as possible then we can intervene sooner to help those children.”
Previous research has shown that toddlers, before they articulate full sentences themselves, may be able to understand complex grammar. A 2011 study published in the journal Cognitive Science found that as early as 21 months, children could match made-up verbs with pictures that made sense grammatically. For example, if they were told “The rabbit is glorping the duck,” they would point to a picture of a rabbit lifting a duck’s leg rather than the duck lifting its leg on its own.
Image: Baby talking on a phone, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
A new study has found that a mother who suffers from depression during pregnancy may expect to see some language delays in her baby. The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested babies at ages 6 months and 10 months, each time measuring the babies’ abilities to distinguish between similar sounds in different language, and engage with people who are speaking different languages when the speakers’ voices are muted.
In typically developing children, 6-month-olds can easily make distinctions between two languages, and 10-month-olds cannot, revealing a critical window for language development in young brains. The study, however, found that babies whose mothers were depressed but took no medication during pregnancy experienced a delay; they “passed the test” at 10 months, but failed it at 6 months. Babies whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy failed the test at both ages.
CNN.com has more:
“What’s going on here? Researchers aren’t sure, and they don’t know if it’s good or bad. One explanation for delay in the depressed-but-not-medicated group is that those kids weren’t being exposed to as much engaging speech because their mothers were depressed.
Alternatively, the brain chemicals from the mother associated with depression could have something to do with it. And the antidepressants could be impacting the child’s brain development in the group whose mothers took these medications.
Are there long-lasting consequences of delays, or advancements, in this critical period of language sensitivity? No one knows. More research needs to be done in order to determine the implications of the findings of this study.”
Image: Mom and baby, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 17th, 2012
Pregnant women with low levels of vitamin D in their second trimester may set their child up for language impairments, according to a new study in the online edition of Pediatrics.
Researchers found that women with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood when they were 18 weeks pregnant were almost twice as likely to have a child with language problems as women with the highest vitamin D levels.
The researchers looked at vitamin D levels in 743 pregnant women in Australia. After the women gave birth, researchers measured their child’s behavior at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17, and their language development at ages 5 and 10.
The study found that vitamin D levels during pregnancy weren’t linked to behavioral or emotional problems in the children. But researchers did find significant language difficulties among children whose mothers had low vitamin D.
The scientists say this doesn’t prove that low levels of the vitamin caused the difficulties, but it points to a “plausible association” that needs further study, Reuters reports.
Lead researcher Andrew Whitehouse of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia says that vitamin D levels in pregnant women have dropped over the last 20 years, probably because they spend less time in the sun, HealthDay News reports. The body makes vitamin D in the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight.
The researchers say vitamin D supplements could help. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as milk, fish, and eggs.
Image: Pregnant belly via Shutterstock.
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