Posts Tagged ‘
Friday, August 24th, 2012
A new study suggests that moms who work full time are healthier, both physically and mentally, than mothers who work part time, those who stay home with their kids, or those who are unemployed.
Researcher Adrianne Frech of the University of Akron examined data on more than 2,500 women who had babies between 1978 and 1995. Here’s more from UPI:
The study found women who returned full time to the workforce shortly after having children reported better mental and physical health — specifically, greater mobility, more energy and less depression at age 40.
“Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically,” Frech said in a statement. “It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy. They have a place where they are an expert on something, and they’re paid a wage.”
But Frech told the New York Times blog Motherlode that her study wasn’t designed to provide additional fuel for the so-called Mommy Wars. “I worry that it’s being misinterpreted as researchers saying that stay-at-home-moms made bad choices,” she said.
The mothers in the study who were the least healthy were those who were “persistently unemployed,” who struggled to find employment even if they wanted to work, UPI said.
“Struggling to hold onto a job or being in constant job search mode wears on their health, especially mentally, but also physically,” Frech said.
Image: Working mom with baby via Shutterstock.
Friday, April 27th, 2012
An experimental drug that inhibits a receptor in the brain has been found in mice to reduce behaviors commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including social problems and repetitive behaviors. CBSNews.com has more:
For the study, published in the April 25 issue of Science and Translational Medicine, researchers from the National Institutes of Health bred a strain of mice to display autism-like behaviors. Similar to how children with autism have social deficits and engage in repetitive behaviors, these mice did not interact and communicate with each other and spent an inordinate amount of time engaging in repetitive behavior – in this case self-grooming.
Cue the experimental drug called GRN-529. The drug was designed to inhibit a type of brain cell receptor that receives the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate is typically involved in learning and memory processes and stimulates other areas of the brain and nervous system.
When mice with the autism-like behaviors were injected with the experimental compound, they reduced the frequency of their repetitive self-grooming and spent more time around strange mice, even sniffing them nose to nose. When tested on a different strain of mice, the experimental compound stopped all repetitive jumping behavior.
“These new results in mice support NIMH-funded research in humans to create treatments for the core symptoms of autism,” Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a statement. “While autism has been often considered only as a disability in need of rehabilitation, we can now address autism as a disorder responding to biomedical treatments.”
Image: Lab researcher, via Shutterstock
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.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
A study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, which we reported here yesterday, says that sleep experts don’t have scientific evidence to back up current sleep recommendations for kids.
But since the study appeared, some sleep experts have spoken up to say they disagree strongly with those findings.
Judith Owens, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington and author of Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens, told NPR’s Shots blog yesterday that current sleep recommendations are indeed research-based. Owens believes that the researchers behind the Pediatrics article “left out multiple studies. It ends up looking like they picked and chose studies that suited their agenda.”
For example, she says, there’s “very solid data showing that teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep a night.” Other studies show that kids’ thinking and behavior improve when they get extended sleep.
Which sleep advice should parents follow? Owens says she trusts the sleep recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, which you can find here. The foundation says children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours. Here’s more from Owens from the NPR blog:
“We always [say] that there are clues to make sure that your child is getting enough sleep. For instance: Your child wakes up spontaneously at the time they’re supposed to wake up. They’re alert in the morning.
Granted, there are things we don’t know. But this is information that I think we can confidently pass on to parents.”
Image: Sleepy boy waking up via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Does your child sleep enough? Here are two little-known facts: Kids haven’t been getting the expert-recommended amount of shut-eye for 100 years. And scientists don’t know exactly how much sleep children really need.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked back over sleep advice for children from 1897 to 2009, and found 32 different sets of official recommendations in that period. The researchers also looked at how much kids actually slept, and found that they consistently got an average of 37 minutes less than the recommended amount.
But almost none of the sleep advice was based on research. “After 100 years, we still don’t have meaningful evidence for these recommendations,” Lisa Anne Matricciani of the University of South Australia, lead author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s more from the Los Angeles Times:
[T]he researchers could find only one case for which the expert guidelines were rooted in medical evidence of a need for a particular amount of sleep. That was a 1926 study that measured the actual sleep of 500 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 who were deemed “healthy.” Other than that, it seems that experts simply looked at the amount of sleep children around them were getting and figured that they really needed a little bit more, the authors wrote.
The current advice from the National Sleep Foundation is that children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours. But a 2006 sleep survey found that about 45 percent of kids ages 11 to 17 get less than eight hours of sleep a night. Any parent who has dealt with a cranky, sleep-deprived child knows that’s not nearly enough.
Research also shows that it’s unwise to let kids skimp: Lack of sleep for children is linked to problems such as obesity, learning difficulties, and aggressive behavior.
Image: Sleepy boy in classroom via Shutterstock.