Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Child

Can Dogs Help Kids Be Less Anxious?

1:45

Scientific studies have already linked fewer allergies and asthma in kids that own dogs, now a new study says you can also add less anxiety to the list of benefits from man’s best friend.

Researchers say a new study shows kids who live in a home with a pet dog score far lower on clinical measures of anxiety.

Although the study was small, the results were not surprising. Researchers focused on 643 kids between 6 and 7. But the team at Bassett Medical Center in New York found that just 12 percent of children with pet dogs tested positive for clinical anxiety, compared to 21 percent of children without a dog.

"It may be that less anxious children have pet dogs or pet dogs make children less anxious," Dr. Anne Gadomski and colleagues wrote in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Previous studies have also shown that adults benefit from owning a pet as well as kids. In fact, many health officials suggest that adults should consider getting a dog. Not only can they provide companionship but can encourage more exercise.

Gadomski acknowledged how special pets can be to a child by noting that, "Sometimes their first word is the name of their pet," she told NBC News. "There is a very strong bond between children and their pets."

What makes dogs such special pets for kids?  Godmski’s team said, "From a mental health standpoint, children aged 7 to 8 often ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem and as confidants," they wrote.

"Animal-assisted therapy with dogs affects children's mental health and developmental disorders by reducing anxiety and arousal or enhancing attachment," they added.

"Because dogs follow human communicative cues, they may be particularly effective agents for children's emotional development."

The researchers asked parents for specific details about what type of anxiety a child showed.

Pets seemed to help in several areas.

"Significant differences between groups were found for the separation anxiety component ('My child is afraid to be alone in the house') and social anxiety component ('My child is shy') favoring pet ownership," they wrote.

Most of the families in the study - 73 percent - had a pet of some kind. Most - 58 percent - had dogs. Families with pets may be more stable and may be more affluent, but the researchers suggest there's more to it than that.

"A pet dog can stimulate conversation, an ice-breaking effect that can alleviate social anxiety via a social catalyst effect," they wrote.

Other studies have also shown that playing or cuddling with a dog can release the bonding hormone oxytocin, and lower the stress hormone cortisol, they noted.

There’s already an abundance of research on dogs and families, which is one of the reasons Gadomski chose to look at the relationship between dogs and kids for this study.

However, she noted that cat lovers might also benefit from the same type of interaction.

If you’re interested in getting a dog as a pet for your family, there are several websites that offer a quiz to help families decide which breed may best be suited for them. Just search “best dog breeds for families.”

Shelters also have puppies and dogs that make wonderful pets.  Many of the older dogs are already house trained and socialized. Shelter staff can answer your questions about whether a particular dog that is up for adoption would be suitable for a family and small children.

Source: Maggie Fox, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/heres-reason-get-puppy-kids-pets-have-less-anxiety-n469591

Image:http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Benefits-Dogs-Kids-36052085#photo-36052085

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

What Is the Most Common and Deadly Cancer Found in Teens?

2:00

Do you know the most common and deadly cancer found in teens and young adults? You may be as surprised as I was when I read that a new study shows it is brain cancer.  It’s also not a particular type of brain cancer, but can vary widely as people age.

"For these individuals -- who are finishing school, pursuing their careers and starting and raising young families -- a brain tumor diagnosis is especially cruel and disruptive," said Elizabeth Wilson, president and CEO of the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).

"This report enables us for the first time to zero in on the types of tumors occurring at key [age] intervals over a 25-year time span, to help guide critical research investments and strategies for living with a brain tumor that reflect the patient's unique needs," Wilson said in an association news release.

Researchers look at data from 51 separate cancer registries, representing 99.9 percent of the U.S. population in the 15 to 39 year-old-age group.

While 2 types of tumors were the most frequently found in this age group, brain and central nervous system tumors, the report also noted that other types of cancer became more prevalent as people got older.

"What's interesting is the wide variability in the types of brain tumors diagnosed within this age group, which paints a much different picture than what we see in [older] adults or in pediatric patients," said report senior author Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, an associate professor at Case Western's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland.

"For example, the most common tumor types observed in adults are meningiomas and glioblastomas, but there is much more diversity in the common tumor types observed in the adolescent and young adult population," Barnholtz-Sloan said in the news release.

"You also clearly see a transition from predominantly nonmalignant and low-grade tumors to predominantly high-grade tumors with increasing age," she added.

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States have brain and central nervous system tumors. And more than 10,600 such tumors are diagnosed in teens and young adults each year, with 434 dying of their disease annually, according to the ABTA.

The most common treatment for brain cancer continues to be surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, new research is looking into the development of tailored therapeutics involving a combination of targeted agents that use different molecules to reduce gene activity and suppress uncontrolled growth by killing or reducing the production of tumor cells based on their genetic character. Experimental treatment options may include new drugs, gene-therapy and biologic modulators that enhance the body’s overall immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells.

"There are clearly unique characteristics of the 15-39 age group that we need to more comprehensively understand, and the information in the ABTA report starts that important dialogue," Barnholtz-Sloan said.

The ABTA-funded report was recently published in journal Neuro-Oncology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/brain-cancer-news-93/brain-cancers-both-common-and-deadly-among-young-adults-report-shows-708339.html

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brainandspinaltumors/brainandspinaltumors.htm

Your Child

Young Girls Less Likely to See Women as “Really, Really Smart”

2:00

One of the surprise box office hits this year is “Hidden Figures.” It’s based on the true story of a team of female African-American mathematicians at NASA in the late 50s and early 60s that helped launch the first U.S. astronaut into space. The women were brilliant but faced enormous challenges for acceptance because of their race and gender.

According to a new study, you might could say that there are millions of "hidden figures" in who young girls and boys’ perceive as someone who is “really, really smart.”

Researchers wanted to try and figure out why women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. While most women make the decision to pursue these courses in high school or college, the scientists found that children develop a stereotype of which gender is naturally smarter early in life.

The study involved 400 children, aged 5 to 7 and included a story told by Lin Bian, a co-author and psychologist at the University of Illinois.

“There are lots of people at the place where I work, but there is one person who is really special. This person is really, really smart,” said Bian. “This person figures out how to do things quickly and comes up with answers much faster and better than anyone else. This person is really, really smart.”

She then showed them pictures of four adults—two men and two women—and asked them to guess which was the protagonist of the story. She also gave them two further tests: one in which they had to guess which adult in a pair was “really, really smart”, and another where they had to match attributes like “smart” or “nice” to pictures of unfamiliar men and women.

The results were revealing.  The 5 year-old boys and girls associated the “smart” person with their own gender. But among those aged 6 or 7, only the boys still held to that view. At an age when girls tend to outperform boys at school, and when children in general show large positive biases towards their own in-groups, the girls became less likely than boys to attribute brilliance to their own gender.

As the boys continued to believe in their own intelligence, the girls – on average – tended to see everyone on more equal terms.

Bian also found that the older girls were less interested in games that were meant for “really, really smart” children.

The stereotype that brilliance and genius are male traits is common among adults. In various surveys, men rate their intelligence more favorably than women, and in a recent study of biology undergraduates, men overrated the abilities of male students above equally talented and outspoken women.

Bian’s study suggests that the seeds of this bias are planted at a very early age. Even by the age of 6, boys and girls are already diverging in who they think is smart.

The findings could help illuminate the challenge schools face in combating gender stereotypes, even though girls often outperform boys in school. Girls drop out of high school at a lower rate than boys. Women are more likely than men to enroll in college, and they earn more college degrees each year than men.

Other games were played and social tests were given during the study with similar results. The 5 year-olds were equally interested in participating, but the 6 and 7 year-old girls were less interested in the ones that relied on “being smart.” Both genders were attracted to the games requiring persistence and hard work.

In today’s business and scientific world, more educators, policymakers and corporations are making an effort to include women in leadership roles, but breaking through the stereotypes developed at such a young age can hinder girls and women in those and other disciplines.

Children model what they see. If they are raised in an environment that diminishes young girls’ achievements but rewards young boys for the same achievements, it often sets up a life-long struggle for them to feel and accept their own self-value. 

Teachers also play an important role in encouraging all children to reach their highest achievement level.

Young girls, as well as young boys, should be recognized for their intelligence and encouraged to pursue science, technology, engineering and math studies – the rest of the world will benefit.

The research can't explain how these messages are getting to kids or how they could be changed, says Andrei Cimpian, a professor of psychology at New York University and an author of the study, He is planning a long-term study of young children that would measure environmental factors, including media exposure and parental beliefs. That would give a better idea of what factors predict the emergence of stereotypes, and what levers are available to change attitudes.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Story sources:  Ed Yong, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/six-year-old-girls-already-have-gendered-beliefs-about-intelligence/514340/

Katherine Hobson, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/26/511801423/young-girls-are-less-apt-to-think-women-are-really-really-smart

Nick Anderson, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/26/research-shows-young-girls-are-less-likely-to-think-of-women-as-really-really-smart/?utm_term=.fc30e9030500&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief

 

Your Child

Study: Exercise, Once Again, Improves Kid’s Learning Skills

2:00

While the debate on whether to bring back recess to school curriculums continues across the U.S., a small study from the Netherlands once again shows that adding exercise to a child’s school day can improve their learning skills.

Researchers worked with 500 children in second and third grade, giving half of them traditional lessons while the rest received instruction supplemented with physical activity designed to reinforce math and language lessons.

The approach was a creative and unique way to helping children better comprehend math and spelling.  Instead of taking a recess break – exercise was actually incorporated into the lesson.

After two years, children who got the physically active lessons had significantly higher scores in math and spelling than their peers who didn't exercise during class.

"Previous research showed effects of recess and physical activity breaks," said lead study author Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma, of the University of Gronigen in The Netherlands.

"However, we think that the integration of physical activity into academic lessons will result in bigger effects on academic achievement," Mullender-Wijnsma added in an email to Reuters Heath.

Mullender-Wijnsma and colleagues developed a curriculum that matched typical lessons in academic subject matter but added physical activity as part of instruction. They tested it in 12 elementary schools.

Here’s how it worked.

Lessons involved constant practice and repetition reinforced by body movements. For example, children jumped in place eight times to solve the multiplication problem 2 x 4.

Children in the exercise group received 22 weeks of instruction three times a week during two school years. These lessons were up to 30 minutes long, and evenly split between math and spelling instruction.

During the first year of the study, there wasn’t a great deal of difference found between the students receiving exercise during the class and those that didn’t, when speed was the focus in the math tests.

However, after two years, children who received exercise-based instruction had significantly higher scores on the math speed exams than students who didn't. The difference over two years equated to more than four months of additional learning for the students who had physically active lessons.

When the focus was on lesson comprehension, students receiving exercise outperformed students who did not receive the exercise instruction in both the first and second year. Again, the progress amounted to about four more months of learning.

For spelling, there wasn't a significant difference between the student groups after one year. But by the end of the second year they did have significantly better test scores, once again, adding an additional four more months of learning.

For reading, there wasn’t much difference between the two groups. It's possible that physical activities may be more beneficial to learning that involves repetition, memorization and practice of lessons from previous classes, the researchers conclude.

Researchers did point out that there were limitations that could have impacted the results of the study during the first year. The exercise group received specially trained teachers and individual schools administered the tests.

The research team did not examine why exercise might have helped students do better during tests.

 Sara Benjamin Neelon, of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues write in an accompanying editorial that it’s not clear whether these types of classes would work in countries where the population is larger, more diverse and students come from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

"However, the take-home message for parents and teachers is that physically active lessons may be a novel way to increase physical activity and improve academic performance – at the same time," Benjamin Neelon said by email.

More and more studies show that exercise appears to help the brain function better in children and adults. Whether all U.S. school administrations will see adding recess or exercise back into school curriculums is anybody’s guess, but according to science – it sure couldn’t hurt and might even help students develop stronger learning skills.

The study was published in the online journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-children-fitness-learning-idUSKCN0VX26V

Your Teen

Young Male Athletes, Parental Pressure and Doping

1:45

When 129 young male athletes, whose average age was 17, were asked what would make them consider “doping” as a way to boost their athletic ability – the majority said parental pressure.

A new study from the University of Kent in England asked the young male athletes about their attitudes on "doping" -- the use of prohibited drugs, such as steroids, hormones or stimulants, to increase athletic competence.

These substances, sometimes called performance-enhancing drugs, can potentially alter the human body and biological functions. However, they can be extremely harmful to a person's health, experts warn.

The study group was also asked about four different aspects of perfectionism. The areas were: parental pressure; self-striving for perfection; concerns about making mistakes; and pressure from coaches.

Only parental pressure was linked to positive feelings about doping among the athletes, the study authors found. Although the study was small, it did point out how important demanding expectations from parents can be to kids. 

Lead author of the study, Daniel Madigan, a Ph.D. student in the university's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, said the findings suggest that parents need to recognize the consequences of putting too much pressure on young athletes in the family.

"The problem of pressure from parents watching their children play sports is widely known, with referees and sporting bodies highlighting the difficulties and taking steps to prevent it," Madigan said in a university news release.

"With the rise of so-called 'tiger' parenting-- where strict and demanding parents push their children to high levels of achievement -- this study reveals the price young athletes may choose to pay to meet their parents' expectations and dreams," Madigan added.

The researchers only focused on young men for this study but plan to investigate if the same result will occur with young female athletes, and if there are differences between athletes in team versus individual sports.

The study findings are scheduled for publication in the April print issue of the Journal of Sports Sciences.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://teens.webmd.com/news/20160229/young-athletes-pressured-by-parents-may-resort-to-doping

 

Your Teen

Bullied Teen’s Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts Reduced By Exercise

1:45

When children are bullied, they are more likely to fall into a deep depression and consider suicide as a way out of their torment than children who are not bullied. That’s not surprising considering the long-term effect being bullied can have on a child. Oftentimes, children who are depressed are prescribed medications to take, but a new study suggests that exercise may be the key to improving bullied children’s outlook and mental health.

"I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves," said lead author Jeremy Sibold, associate professor and chair of the Department Rehabilitation and Movement Science. "Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it's worth it."

Previous research has shown bullied children are at a greater risk for sadness, poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse as well as depression.

The study used data from the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 high school students, researchers at the University of Vermont found that being physically active four or more days per week resulted in a 23 percent reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied students.

Nationwide nearly 20 percent of students reported being bullied on school property.

Thirty percent of the students in the study reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the previous year while more than 22 percent reported suicidal ideation and 8.2 percent reported actual suicidal attempts during the same time period. Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts when compared to peers who were not bullied.

Researchers found that exercise, four or more days a week, had a positive influence on reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts by 23 percent.

Sibold’s study comes at a time when 44 percent of the nation’s school administrators have cut large amounts of time from physical education, recess and arts’ programs to focus more on reading and mathematics since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

"It's scary and frustrating that exercise isn't more ubiquitous and that we don't encourage it more in schools," says Sibold. "Instead, some kids are put on medication and told 'good luck.' If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?"

Sibold and the study’s co-authors say they hope their report increases the consideration of exercise programs as part of the public health approach to reduce suicidal behavior in all adolescents.

"Considering the often catastrophic and long lasting consequences of bullying in school-aged children, novel, accessible interventions for victims of such conduct are sorely needed," they conclude.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921095433.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Baby

“Hard” Tap Water and Eczema in Infants

1:30

Previous studies have noted an association between “hard” tap water and eczema in schoolchildren, but a new study out of the U.K. suggests it may be linked to eczema in babies as well.

Water described as “hard” contains a high degree of minerals - specifically calcium, magnesium and manganese. It’s not considered hazardous, but it comes with a variety of unpleasant effects such as soap scum in sinks and bathtubs, spots on dishes and shower glass, clogged pipes from buildup and clothes that are left dingy after washing.

By some accounts, 85% of U.S. households have hard water.

If your child has eczema, then you know that it is a chronic condition marked by itchiness and rashes. It typically starts at about 6 months old and can last into adulthood.

The study included 1,300 3-month old infants from across the United Kingdom. Researchers checked hardness -- the water's mineral content -- and chlorine levels in the water supply where the babies lived.

Babies who lived in areas with hard water were up to 87% more likely to have eczema, the study found.

"Our study builds on growing evidence of a link between exposure to hard water and the risk of developing eczema in childhood," said lead author Dr. Carsten Flohr, from the Institute of Dermatology at King's College London.

One way to change the composition of hard water is by adding a water softener system to your household

There are several types of systems including salt-based Ion exchange softeners, salt-free softeners, dual tank and magnetic water softeners plus others.

While the other studies focused on school aged children, this is the first to look at the connection with eczema, hard water and babies, the researchers said.

The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, so further research is needed to learn more about this apparent link, Flohr added.

"We are about to launch a feasibility trial to assess whether installing a water softener in the homes of high-risk children around the time of birth may reduce the risk of eczema and whether reducing chlorine levels brings any additional benefits," Flohr said in a college news release.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159150.html

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/safedrink/hard.htm

 

 

Your Teen

Teens Support Age 21 to Buy Tobacco Products

2:00

You might be surprised to learn that a majority of teens and pre-teens support raising the minimum age someone can buy tobacco products to 21 years old, according to new research.

The study was conducted to learn more about youth opinions (ages 11 to 18) on laws that would limit the sale of tobacco to individuals age 21 years or older, specifically, the Tobacco 21 initiative.

Tobacco 21 is a program started by the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation that promotes increasing the minimum age for tobacco purchases.

The new study included more than 17,000 teens and preteens from 185 U.S. schools. Researchers found that younger adolescents were more likely to support the initiative and girls were more likely to support raising the minimum age than boys.

"Current studies have focused on the attitudes of adults, and little is known about how youth nationwide perceive the Tobacco 21 initiative as well as the correlations between these attitudes and smoking behaviors," said study author Hongying Dai. She's an associate professor in the Health Services and Outcomes Research Department at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

The reasons for increasing the age to 21 are largely scientific. Kids are at the greatest risk of becoming smokers, and smokers almost always begin experimenting with cigarettes and other tobacco products before age 18, the researchers said.

"The adolescent brain is still developing, and using tobacco at that age can actually change and alter brain development," explained Bill Blatt. He's the national director of tobacco programs for the American Lung Association.

"You end up with more brain receptors that are looking for nicotine, and the brain structure changes. That's why you become addicted for a lifetime," Blatt said.

Researchers found that about 71 percent of teens that didn't smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes supported raising the purchase age. But not surprisingly, teens currently using tobacco products or e-cigarettes were not as keen on raising the age limit. Only 17 percent of teens that smoked cigarettes supported Tobacco 21 initiatives. For current e-cigarette users, the number was 31 percent.

In recent years, there has been a continued decline in teen smoking, but for a while alternative tobacco products such as e-cigarette gained in popularity. That trend seems to be lessening as well.

"A lot of people perceive e-cigarettes as being less harmful than regular cigarettes, and some people think they aren't harmful at all," said Blatt. "But we don't have the evidence to support that."

Tobacco 21 would also increase the age on the purchase of e-cigarettes.

Tobacco 21 is beginning to have an impact on laws in a couple of states and at least 215 cities, according to their website.

"This is good evidence for state legislators to understand that there is broad support, even among teens for Tobacco 21 policies," Blatt said. "It's a bit tough when you have a patchwork of policies where you can't buy cigarettes if you are 19 in this county, but you can in the next county. It's much better if you have to be 21 in all counties."

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Gia Miller, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/06/19/Teens-pre-teens-support-increasing-smoking-age-to-21/7301497887031/

 

Daily Dose

New Concussion Guidelines

1:30 to read

A really interesting study was published in Pediatrics online entitled “Benefits of Strict Rest After Acute Concussion”.  The guidelines for treating a concussion continue to be debated and that is what makes this study thought provoking.  

This was a “randomized controlled study”  which followed 88 patients between the ages of 11 and 22 years who had been diagnosed with a concussion.  45 of the patients were given instructions for 5 days of strict rest at home with no school, no work and no physical activity.  They were then allowed to have a “stepwise return to activity”.  The other 43 patients were told to “rest” for 1-2 days after which time they could  return to school also follow a “stepwise return to activity”.

Interestingly, there was no clinically significant difference in the  neurocognitive or balance outcomes between the two groups.  In fact the group that was “advised to rest for 5 days” reported more daily post concussive symptoms and slower resolution of symptoms than those who were told to rest for 1-2 days.  

This was a small study and does not mean that everyone should be treated the same way. In fact, when seeing a patient who has sustained a concussion each person seems to be a bit different.....as one could expect when discussing a “brain injury”.  No two brains are exactly alike...at least for the time being...who knows what will happen one day with genetics

In my own limited practice I have found that “very few” tweens and teens subscribe to the complete rest theory...that is no school, but also no TV, no computer and no videos or smart phones....WHAT??? No social media for 5 days?  You would have to put most of them on an isolated “post concussion island” to ensure they disconnect.  

The study authors also wondered if patients reported more symptoms after having strict rest recommended.  It seems plausible that I too might notice a few more symptoms when just sitting there wondering if my head hurts or if I seem to be more fatigued.

Subjective symptoms are always difficult to quantify...which makes treating a concussion more problematic.  I think erring on the conservative side and restricting “return to play” for a longer period seems to be of more importance than any other recommendation, including “5 days of strict rest”. In the meantime this is an interesting study....with more data to surely follow. 

 

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Potty training can be tricky.

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.