Monday, November 25th, 2013
Pregnant women who take Tylenol or over-the-counter pain-relieving medications that contain acetaminophen may be putting their babies at higher risk of developing language issues or behavioral problems, a new study conducted in Norway has found. More from NBC News:
The new study is the first to look at young children whose mothers took Tylenol while pregnant.
“Our findings suggest that (acetaminophen) might not be as harmless as we think,” Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen said. She led the study at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway.
She and her co-authors studied 48,000 Norwegian children whose mothers answered survey questions about their medication use at weeks 17 and 30 of pregnancy, and again six months after giving birth.
Mothers filled out a follow-up questionnaire about their child’s developmental milestones three years later.
Close to 4 percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy.
Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.
It’s difficult to define risks for pregnant women and their children, since rigorous tests and controlled studies of drug exposure aren’t ethical, Brandlistuen said. All researchers can do is closely observe women in the real world.
But this study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, involved a large number of women, and researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen, a pain-relief alternative without acetaminophen.
They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen.
“Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three,” Brandlistuen said. “That is considerable.”
Heavy users most often reported taking the drug for five to seven days in a row a few times during pregnancy, she said.
Image: Pregnant woman taking medication, via Shuttestock
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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
A government program that provides millions of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and children with money and education to help them eat nutritious foods is on the list of agencies that will lose funding as part of the partial government shutdown. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, provides families with children under 5 nutritious meals in an effort to stave off learning disabilities and other health effects of premature birth and other complications. More on the shutdown’s effects on the program from CNN Money:
“No additional federal funds would be available,” to continue the program in the event of a shutdown, the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs WIC, said on its website. “States may have some funds available … to continue operations for a week or so, but states would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period.”
There are just under nine million women and children on the program, according to USDA. The average monthly benefit is about $45.
That often comes on top of about $135 a month in food stamp benefits. WIC benefits mandate the money can only be spent on an approved list of healthy foods.
Suspending the program is a terrible idea, said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, head of the National WIC Association, which represents the regional offices that administer the programs.
While a suspension would only be temporary, it would send the wrong message to mothers, and perhaps convincing some that it’s not worth signing up for, he said.
Greenaway said the program actually saves taxpayers money.
It costs $20,000 per pound to bring a premature child up to normal weight, he said. All told, for every $1 spent the program saves $4.21 in medical costs, he said.
Image: Mother feeding baby, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 23rd, 2013
E-reader devices may help children with the learning disability dyslexia learn to read. The technology in an e-reader screen was found in a new study to make text more legible to children who otherwise would struggle to read. One reason for the finding may be that lines of text are shorter in e-readers than in books. Fox News has more on the study:
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The study’s authors said they are excited about the potential for e-readers to supplement traditional methods of therapy for dyslexic students.
“The high school students we tested…had the benefit of many years of exceptional remediation, but even so, if they have visual attention deficits they will eventually hit a plateau, and traditional approaches can no longer help,” said study author Matthew H. Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the research, in a news release. “Our research showed that the e-readers help these students reach beyond those limits.”
Dyslexia is characterized by an inability to concentrate on letters within words, or entire lines of text on a page, and it affects 10 percent of children in the U.S.
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
A study conducted by Italian researchers has found that playing action-packed video games and manipulating the devices used to play may help children with the learning disability dyslexia improve their performance in reading by training children to focus their attention and examine the game for both speed and accuracy. More from The New York Times:
The small study, published online last week in Current Biology, involved two groups of 10 dyslexic children. One group played action video games for nine sessions of 80 minutes each, while the other followed the same routine with nonaction games. The researchers bought the games in retail stores and have no financial interest in any video game company.
Age, I.Q., reading speed, error rates and phonological skills were similar in the two groups at the beginning of the study. The researchers measured the attention and reading skills of the children before and after the game sessions and then compared them.
Those trained on the action games scored significantly higher than those who played the nonaction games by various measures: combined speed and accuracy, recognizing pseudo-words made of random letters, and reaction time. The action game players also scored higher on tests that measured attention by inserting distractions as the children tried to accomplish various visual and auditory tasks.
Image: Teen playing video game, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012
A California couple says their 16-year-old son wasn’t allowed to board a plane last weekend because airline employees described him as a “flight risk.” But Joan and Robert Vanderhorst believe they were actually removed from the American Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles because employees did not want their son Bede, who has Down Syndrome, to sit in first class. The New York Daily News reports:
Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a “lark” they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.
“My wife said, ‘oh Bede’s never flown first class,’ he’ll be so excited.”
Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown “at least 30 times” through his life and has never caused any trouble.
Nothing was different before Sunday’s flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.
But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn’t feel safe allowing him on the plane.
The airline told the Daily News that Bede was “agitated” in the waiting area. “Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen,” the airline said. The family was escorted away from the gate by police, and rebooked on a United Airlines flight. Bede’s parents are considering a lawsuit accusing the airline of violating the teen’s civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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