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Your Toddler

Proof That Reading to Your Child is Good for Them

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Not only do small children love being read to but a new study confirms that it is actually good for them.

Brain scans taken of 19 preschoolers whose parents regularly read to them showed heightened activity in important areas of the brain. Experts have long theorized that reading to young children on a consistent basis has a positive impact on their brain development; researchers say this study provides hard evidence that it does.

 The study’s leader Dr. John Hutton, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center,

 and his team used functional MRI scans to measure real-time brain activity in 19 children, aged 3 to 5 years, as they listened to stories and to sounds other than speech.

Parents were interviewed about "cognitive stimulation" at home, including how often they read to their children. Based on their responses, the number ranged from two nights a week to every night.

Overall, Hutton's team found, the more often children had story time at home, the more brain activity they showed while listening to stories in the research lab.

The impact was largely seen in the area of the brain that is used to obtain meaning from words. There was "particularly robust" activity, the researchers said, in areas where mental images are formed from what is heard.

"When children listen to stories, they have to put it all together in their mind's eye," Hutton explained.

Even though children's books have pictures, he added, that's different from watching all the action play out on a TV or computer screen.

When a child is listening to a story being read to them, they are engaging a different part of the brain than when they are passively sitting in front of a screen with images.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to read to their children every day, starting at birth. That pre-kindergarten time is a critical time for brain development, Hutton said. Other research has found that children with poor reading skills in first grade usually do not "catch up" with their peers.

Hutton believes that a traditional story time provides a critical "back-and-forth" between parents and children.

"It's not just a nice thing to do with your child," he said. "It's important to their cognitive, social and emotional development."

Reading to your child can help him or her build a lifelong relationship with the written word. That skill will help them be able to navigate more easily in school, later on in business and can bring hours of personal pleasure through the stories of gifted writers.

Source: Amy Norton, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/brain-health-news-80/brain-scans-show-why-reading-to-kids-is-good-for-them-701897.html

 

 

Your Toddler

Parent–Child Interaction May Increase IQ

2.10 to read

Children who were stimulated were also 65 percent less likely to be involved in fights and violent crime as adults, and they performed better in math and reading tests.Sometimes scientific studies seem to confirm what common sense already tells us. Do children benefit by positive interactions and playtime spent with their parents? Yes they do.

What is interesting about this study is the added benefits discovered; improvement in learning, and less involvement in violent activity. Toddlers in a program to encourage interaction and play with their mothers grew into adults with higher IQs, greater educational attainment and less involvement in violence than kids who did not receive the early stimulation, a new study finds. These latest results are the fourth follow-up in a series of studies since the early-childhood program ended, about 20 years ago. "The most exciting finding this time was the reduction in violent behavior, because that's something we haven't shown before," said Dr. Susan Walker, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. Beginning in the 1980s, Walker and her colleagues tracked 129 Jamaican toddlers who all had stunted growth and lived in an impoverished area. One group of children was part of the stimulation program, another was given supplemental baby formula, a third group received both interventions, and a fourth group did not get either. The stimulation involved a weekly visit from a woman who taught the mothers how to play with their toddlers and engage them in everyday activities, and who also left toys and books each week. Children who received food every week were given 1 kg of milk-based formula, which makes a little less than two gallons. Each intervention lasted two years. As in previous follow-ups, Walker found that children who received the stimulation from their mother had higher IQs. In this study of the participants at age 22, there was a six-point difference between those who had received the interaction and those who did not. "It's a substantial improvement for something that took place in early childhood," Walker told Reuters Health. Children who were stimulated were also 65 percent less likely to be involved in fights and violent crime as adults, and they performed better in math and reading tests. The group of toddlers who received formula had no improvements in these measurements two decades later, compared to kids who did not get the extra food. None of the interventions were tied to any differences in alcohol or cigarette use, teenage births, or education past secondary school. And the participants remained small compared to their peers - likely the result of poor nutrition as babies, Walker said. Dr. Benard Dreyer, a pediatrics professor at New York University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said the results show that the benefits of early childhood stimulation can ripple for years - increasing the likelihood of excelling in school and avoiding violence. In an editorial he wrote in the journal Pediatrics, where the study is published, Dreyer said such programs should be offered to poor children in the United States and the developing world. "It's not that we don't know what to do, it's that we haven't decided to implement this on a large scale," he told Reuters Health. No one knows what a program like this would cost, but it’s estimated that in-home interventions would be less expensive in the long run  by helping to reduce high drop out rates and incarcerations. Dreyer added that Walker's study is one of the few well-planned interventions followed-up for so many years. Walker suggests that early-childhood intervention for children who are deprived of nutrition and stimulation should become part of regular pediatric services, just like immunizations. "In this context, where there are virtually no toys in the home and maybe not much language interaction, what you do to improve the quality of that mother-child interaction and the engagement in play can be tremendously important," Walker said.

Your Toddler

Study: Swimming Lessons Don’t Increase Drowning Risk

Enrolling young children in swimming lessons doesn't increase their risk of drowning

Enrolling young children in swimming lessons doesn't increase their risk of drowning. The results of a new study published in the March 2009 issues of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine might dispel concerns among some health professionals that swimming lessons could actually increase drowning risk by making parents and caregivers less vigilant when young children are in and around water.

Government researchers looked at data on drowning involving children ages one to 19 years old and compared them with a control group of children who didn't drown. Of the 61 children ages one to four who drowned, three percent had received swimming lessons, compared with 26 percent of the same age in the control group. "From our calculation, we are confident that swimming lessons do not increase drowning risk in this age group and likely have a protective effect," the study's first author, Dr. Ruth A. Brenner, of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a government news release. Though they can help, swimming lessons alone aren't enough to fully protect children from drowning. "In our study, many of the children who drowned, particularly in the older age group, were relatively skilled swimmers," Brenner and her colleagues noted in their study. " Parents and caregivers who choose to enroll their children in swimming lessons should be cautioned that this alone will not prevent drowning and that even the most proficient swimmers can drown." Swimming lessons should be part of a complete prevention program that includes fencing for pools, appropriate adult supervision, and parent and caregiver training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the researchers concluded.

Your Toddler

HGH May Benefit Kids with Cystic Fibrosis

Although Human Growth Hormone is not a cure for the disease, researchers discovered that it reduced the number of hospitalizations among those who have the disease.A new study from the University of Connecticut suggests that recombinant human growth hormone could be a promising tool in treating cystic fibrosis.

Although rhGH is not a cure for the disease, researchers discovered that it reduced the number of hospitalizations among those who have the disease. The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, was produced by the UConn/Hartford Hospital Evidence-based Practice Center and was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the study offers insights on managing the disease, there's not enough evidence yet on whether rhGH treatments could extend the lives of those with cystic fibrosis.

 "It's intuitive that it might be beneficial as far as length of life goes, but we won't be able to go ahead and tell that just yet," said one of the researchers, Craig Lapin of UConn's Department of Pediatrics and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Cystic Fibrosis affects multiple organs. Lungs are clogged with a thick mucus, which can lead to lung infections. The disease also affects the pancreas, making it difficult for the body to absorb food, which significantly stunts growth and often leads to early deaths. The researchers studied cases of children and adolescents, with cystic fibrosis going back to the 1990s, who received an injection of human growth hormone every day for six months to a year.

 In the 1950s, children with cystic fibrosis generally died before age 8. But with antibiotics and other medical advances, the median age for people with the disease increased to 37 by 2008.

"As the kids with cystic fibrosis are living longer and longer, a lot of these ancillary problems are become more apparent," said C. Michael White, director of the Evidence-based Practice Center and lead author of the study. In the cases studied, the researchers found that human growth hormone added 1.25 inches in height and three pounds to the patients. That growth also resulted in larger internal organs, particularly the lungs, making breathing easier.

 HGH also appears to improve the mineral content in bones, making them stronger. "

For those who received human growth hormone, White said, annual hospitalizations decreased by half, from about three hospitalizations per year to one and half.

 HGH therapy can be expensive, but fewer hospitalizations should balance out the expense.

 "Hopefully, this is going to encourage cystic fibrosis care providers to use it more frequently in patients at the lower end of weight and of short stature," Lapin said of the findings. A daily injection can be difficult for a child who is already taking several other medications, White said, but going to the hospital fewer times might make up for it.

 "I could see that, for a lot of kids, the injections would become just part of the daily routine," he said. "They would probably be a lot less scary than hospitalizations."

Your Toddler

Hitting & Biting

A normal part of develop with a young child is for them to experiment with hitting and biting. Child neuropsychologist Dr. Kristy Hagar says it’s normal and the hitting and biting comes out as a front-line reaction during the course of normal play. Dr. Hagar says it is important for parents to intervene every time they see their child hit or bite. “First thing is not to hit or bite back to teach them a ‘lesson’. It sends the wrong message.” Dr. Hagar recommends telling the child “no” in a firm voice and then do a consequence, like a time-out to reinforce the message.

“It’s a parents role, and teachers role too, to make sure the message is given back that it’s not an appropriate behavior,” Dr. Hagar says. But there is good news for parents worried that their child may turn in to a life-long hitter or biter. The behavior normally stops by age three, when a child’s language skills start to develop more.

Your Toddler

Understanding Temper Tantrums

2.00 to read

You can usually tell when it’s coming. Your little one’s normally sweet cherubic face begins to turn a scarlet red. The eyes and mouth twist into something unrecognizable.  Squirming ramps up, tears start to flow, whining reaches a fever pitch and then BOOM- your child is spinning off into of a doozy of a tantrum.

A little voice in your head says “step away from the child.” That’s probably not a bad idea.

So, what does it all mean?

According to a new study published in the journal Emotion, it means your child is experiencing a complex mixture of simultaneous emotions including sadness and anger. I know from personal experience, it’s sometimes hard to see the sadness when the anger has the upper hand.

It’s an interesting study. Very young children aren’t able to express in words what’s bugging them. They can’t argue reasonably, defend their position, or explain why they want what they want. They are at the mercy of whoever is in charge. As you might expect, that can lead to increased levels of frustration. Get frustrated enough, and something’s going to give. But what exactly are they trying to express?

While tantrums generally involve shouting, kicking, screaming, crying and whining, the new study looked at the noises a child makes when going through a temper attack.

Researchers discovered that the sounds children make during a tantrum are not random. But have a specific pattern and rhythm.

The first challenge was to collect tantrum sounds, says co-author James A. Green of the University of Connecticut.

"We developed a onesie that toddlers can wear that has a high-quality wireless microphone sewn into it," Green said. "Parents put this onesie on the child and press a go button."

Researchers listened to and recorded more than 100 high-fidelity audio recordings and discovered certain patterns of anger and sadness.

"Screaming and yelling and kicking often go together," study co-author Michael Potegal of the University of Minnesota told National Public Radio. "Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort -- these also hang together." And while earlier thinking suggested that a child progressed from initial sadness to anger during a tantrum, the researchers found that these two emotions actually occur simultaneously throughout the outburst.

But where one age-old theory of tantrums might suggest that meltdowns begin in anger (yells and screams) and end in sadness (cries and whimpers), Potegal found that the two motions were more deeply intertwined.

"The impression that tantrums have two stages is incorrect," Potegal said. "In fact, the anger and the sadness are more or less simultaneous."

Once understood, researchers say, this pattern can help parents, teachers and caregivers respond more effectively to temper tantrums. It can also help clinicians tell the difference between ordinary tantrums, which are a normal part of a child's development, and those that may be warning signals of an underlying disorder.

So what is the best way to handle a tantrum?

The trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible, Potegal said, was to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once the child was past being angry, what was left was sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort. The quickest way past the anger, the scientists said, was to do nothing. Of course, that isn't easy for parents or caregivers to do.

"When I'm advising people about anger, I say, 'There's an anger trap,"' Potegal said.

Even asking questions can prolong the anger and the tantrum.

Many experts recommend ignoring the child when they are in tantrum meltdown mode.

Preschoolers.about.com offers these suggestions for handling a child in the throes of a tantrum meltdown.

  • If you can, try walking away, making sure that your child is safe first. Stay nearby, but make sure it’s clear by your actions that her display has no effect on you. Don’t make eye contact and don’t talk to her. When she sees that she’s not getting a reaction, she’ll eventually stop.
  • Diffuse it: If you have trouble not re-acting, there are some other techniques you can try. Soothe your child by rubbing her back and talk to her in low, quiet tones. Some parents find repeating the same phrase over and over again like, “You’re OK,” or “It’s alright”or singing a quiet song or nursery rhyme seems to work. You can also try injecting a little humor into the situation by telling a silly joke or making a funny face.

What you shouldn't do: yell back at your child or try to reason with him. While your child in the middle of an emotional outburst, there is no way to get through to him. You just have to wait until it is over.

If the tantrum is in a public place, pick her up and bring her to a more private location like your car or a public bathroom. If you can’t get the tantrum under control, put her into her car seat and go home. Unfortunately, there are some instances where you just can’t leave, such as an airplane or a train. Just do your best and grin and bear it. Others might be annoyed but your child is your concern, not anyone else.

If you child starts to bite, kick, hit or show some other aggressive behaviors, you must take action immediately. Remove the child from the situation until she can calm down.

When the tantrum is over, don’t dwell on what happened as upset or as angry as you may be. Going over what happened again and again will most likely upset your child and could cause them to begin to tantrum again. Instead, give her a hug and a kiss and move on. If you feel like you need to talk about it, wait a few hours when you are both calm.

One of the most important things to remember is that children are not simply little adults. They cannot respond on the same level as an adult and the younger they are, the less they know how to handle frustrating situations. As they grow and test the boundaries, they will learn about life by what you teach them and how you teach them.

Sources:

http://preschoolers.about.com/od/behaviordiscipline/a/Tempertantrums.htm

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health

Your Toddler

Daytime Nap Has Benefits Beyond Rest for Kids

A new small study shows that for children aged four and five, taking a nap during the daytime may help reduce hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.Any parent can testify that a child's naptime is also beneficial for the caregiver. Now a new small study shows that for children aged four and five, taking a nap during the daytime may help reduce hyperactivity, anxiety and depression. The study of 62 children categorized them as either napping (77 percent) or non-napping (23 percent). Researchers found that those who didn't take daytime naps had higher levels of anxiety, hyperactivity and depression.

The data was based on the parents' or caregivers' reporting of the child's typical weekday and weekend bedtime/wake time and napping patterns. Family demographics and behavioral assessments of the children were also included in the analysis. Researchers found that children who took naps did so an average 3.4 days a week. "There is a lot of individual variability in [the age] when children are ready to give up naps. I would encourage parents to include a quiet 'rest' time in their daily schedule that would allow children to nap if necessary," said lead author Brian Crosby, a postdoctoral fellow of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. In his research, Crosby also noted an optimal age for children to stop napping hasn't yet been determined.

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Your Toddler

Tricycles Cause Almost 9500 Injuries a Year

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The brightly colored, tripled wheeled tyke-bikes may appear pretty harmless, but tricycles injuries send thousands of children to the hospital every year according to a new study.

Researchers found that lacerations were the most common type of injury kids suffered.  

But in an indication that some kids might need more or better quality protective gear, researchers also estimated that about 30 percent of injuries were to the head and another 8 percent involved the elbow, noted lead study author Sean Bandzar.

“Head injuries in particular are very common with any kind of moving toy and that’s why we recommend helmets, and based on our findings I would also encourage parents to have kids wear elbow pads,” said Bandzar, a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Based on the 328 tricycle injuries reported by participating hospitals in 2012 and 2013, researchers estimated that there were about 9,340 injuries nationwide during the two-year study period.

The total included 2,767 injuries to the head and 767 at the elbow, as well as 1,880 accidents damaging the face, 954 hurting the mouth and 483 harming the lower arms, researchers estimated.

The study noted that on average, three year-olds were the typical age group injured and one to two-year olds, made-up slightly more than 50 percent of the cases.

Boys made up almost two-thirds of the cases.

With this age group, it came as no surprise that about 72 percent of the injures occurred at home.

There were a couple shortcomings of the study, the authors acknowledge in the journal Pediatrics, is that researchers lacked data on how accidents happened, whether kids wore helmets or other protective gear, what types of tricycles children rode and whether adults were present.

It’s also possible that the study didn’t have data on enough accidents to draw broad conclusions about tricycle injuries nationwide, said Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and a professor of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Tricycles are safe, especially if a few simple steps are taken to prevent injuries,” Smith, who wasn’t involved in the study, he told Rueters by email.

Children should always wear helmets any time they are on wheels above a hard surface – including tricycles, skateboards, scooters, skates and bicycles, Smith said. Tricycle riders in particular should only ride in areas separated from cars, and when parents can keep a close eye on them.

“Tricycles are somewhat riskier than other toys children use but that doesn’t mean they are highly risky toys,” said David Schwebel, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the study, echoed the need for parental supervision, he also stressed that tricycles can be good for kids.

“Tricycles are valuable tools to help children develop critical gross motor skills like balance, coordination and strength,” Schwebel said by email. “Any tricycle, when used carefully in a supervised situation, is likely to be a positive activity for children.”

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/14/us-health-children-tricycle-injuries-idUSKCN0RE1TQ20150914

 

Your Toddler

There's A Camp For That!

2.00 to read

Summer camps can be a wonderful way for children to have exciting and meaningful experiences. Whether you’re looking for a traditional, high-tech or special needs camp- there’s a camp for that!The variety of summer camps available for children is truly mind-boggling. Finding the right camp for your child can be an exciting process, as well as making you want to pull out every strand of hair you have. So, how do you begin? Let’s start with age.

Dr. Sue Hubbard, pediatrician and Medical Editor for The Kid’s Doctor, offers this insight, “It is probably best to start your child off with a day camp in your area. Most of those camps begin around the age of five to six years, and are close enough for your child to commute to camp. This is good first exposure to camp activities such as swimming, outdoor sports, crafts and camp meals for lunch. Many children will enjoy day camp so much and be ready to move on to "spend the night" camp by the time they are between seven and 16 years of age.” Once you’ve determined that your child is ready for summer camp, the next step is to talk about the possibility of summer camp. 1. Ask your child what he or she would absolutely love to do this summer. 2. Talk about their favorite interests. Is it sports, acting, music, science, sailing, dance, cooking, space exploration? There’s a camp for almost anything. 3. Discuss the differences between a day camp and a sleep-away camp. 4. Determine if your child is excited about the idea of going to summer camp. Once you have a couple of activities in mind, and you’ve decided on a day camp or a sleep-away camp, the next step is researching the safety records, size, costs, and locations of suitable camps. This is where the hair pulling begins. There are thousands of camps and the costs can be anywhere from inexpensive day camps to thousands of dollars for sleep-away camps. Summercamp.org offers extensive advice and information on choosing the right summer camp. Nonprofit camps, such as "Y" camps and Federation camps, are less expensive than private sleep-away. As a parent you have to make a careful assessment of your family's financial limitations regarding camp costs. There are several very important calculations. How much would you have to pay to feed, entertain, provide childcare, and so forth, if your child stays home for all or part of a summer? Second, be sure to estimate the extras that are involved in going to camp. Extras may include a camp uniform, charges for trips, transportation, the cost of visiting the camp, and the extra spending money needed by your child. Third, remember that a good camp experience can be a long-term investment that will affect many other areas of your child's life. In other words, don't be too concerned about saving a couple of hundred dollars over the course of the summer. If your child does not have a good experience, you both will have lost far more than you have saved. Generally, children will attend sleep-away camps from two to eight weeks. Some general camps will offer a 1-2 week trial session for younger children and/or first time campers. Specialty camps may offer a one-week session in a particular sport or activity. One week sessions, where available, range from $500-$2000. Two week sessions will range in cost from $1000-$4000. Four weeks will cost from $1700 to $7000. Full season camps, lasting 7-9 weeks will range from $3500 to $11000. The cost ranges shown include both general and specialty camps. Costs for each may vary based on the activities and location of each program. You should take some time to consider what you can reasonably afford. How do you know if a camp is safe for your child to attend? The Better Business Bureau offers these tips: With over 12,000 camps across the country to choose from, BBB advises parents to begin their search by looking for a camp centered on their child’s interests and age. In addition to checking BBB’s website for a camp’s BBB Business Review, BBB offers the following tips for parents searching for the right camp: - Get references. Ask parents of other campers about their child’s experience and why they recommend one camp over another. Of note, there is no government oversight of camps, so it’s especially important to look for facilities that are certified by the American Camp Association which require camps to meet up to 300 nationally recognized standards. - Visit the camp in person. Check all living, eating and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures and how rules are enforced (particularly for water activities, archery and offsite trips). - Assess the quality and commitment of the staff. Find out the camp director’s background, the criteria used for hiring staff and whether certification in CPR and First Aid is required. It is also important to know the ratio of staff to campers. Parents sending children to specialty camps should inquire about the staff’s level of expertise in the specific area. - Know the fees and payment policies. What is the total cost of tuition? Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Is financial aid available? Make sure all these details are included in your contract. - Ask about medical care and insurance. Check out the medical facilities to be sure they are adequate. Find out if a nurse or doctor is onsite. Inquire about the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities and under what circumstances you will be notified of any problems. - Consider a backup plan. In case the camp you plan to register for does not meet your expectations or gets canceled for unexpected reasons, be sure to have another camp or two in mind that you are comfortable with. It’s ideal to also visit and research those backup camps in advance so that you can be well informed even in the event of a last minute decision. Back to the fun part. Summer camps can be a wonderful way for children to have exciting and meaningful experiences. Whether you’re looking for a traditional, high-tech or special needs camp- there’s a camp for that!

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

What parents need to know about the recent mumps outbreak.

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