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February 10, 2009, 6:31 AM CT

Parent's role in teen obesity

Parent's role in teen obesity
There appears to be a reason teenagers eat more burgers and fries than fruits and vegetables: their parents.

In a new policy brief released recently by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, scientists observed that adolescents are more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. Contrarily, teens whose parents eat fast food or drink soda are more likely to do the same.

Every day, more than 2 million California adolescents (62 percent) drink soda and 1.4 million (43 percent) eat fast food, but only 38 percent eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, as per the policy brief, "Teen Dietary Habits Correlation to Those of Parents."

The cause of the deficit of healthy foods in teen diets has been attributed in part to the high concentration of fast food restaurants in certain cities and neighborhoods and other environmental factors.

The new research is a reminder, however, that "good dietary habits start at home," as per center research scientist Susan H. Babey, a co-author of the policy brief. "If parents are eating poorly, chances are their kids are too." .

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of California's teenagers are overweight or obese. Poor dietary habits, along with environmental and other factors, are strongly associated with obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:11 AM CT

Vaccination programs showing its effectiveness

Vaccination programs showing its effectiveness
"Conventional wisdom and conventional theory tells us that when infection can potentially be spread to almost everyone in a community, such as for measles, a disease outbreak can never be contained using voluntary vaccination," says Chris Bauch and Ana Persic, scientists from the University of Guelph. "However, our work shows conventional wisdom appears to be wrong for diseases that are spread primarily through close contact, such as smallpox." Their findings are reported in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology on February 6th.

Prior studies have suggested that voluntary programs cannot be 100% effective due to the self-interested behavior of individuals. However, most mathematical models used in these studies assume that populations mix homogenously in effect, that an individual is just as likely to be infected by a complete stranger as by a close friend or family member. But that is not how infections spread with diseases like smallpox or SARS, which are predominantly to close social contacts.

In this newly released study, Bauch and Perisic analyze "free-rider" effects under voluntary vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases where disease transmission occurs in a social network. Individuals choose whether to vaccinate based on the risk of infection from their neighbors and any risks linked to the vaccine itself. Neighbors of an infected person will vaccinate as soon as their neighbor's symptoms appear, so when neighborhood size is small, voluntary vaccination results in rapid containment of an outbreak. As neighborhood size increases, a threshold is reached beyond which the infection can break through due to the decisions of neighbours who choose not to vaccinate.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:09 AM CT

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking
Alcohol advertising and marketing may lead to underage drinking. A large systematic review of more than 13,000 people, reported in the open access journal BMC Public Health, suggests that exposure to ads and product placements, even those supposedly not directed at young people, leads to increased alcohol consumption.

Lesley Smith and David Foxcroft from Oxford Brookes University collated information from seven rigorously selected studies, featuring information on 13,255 participants. This systematic review, funded by the Alcohol and Education Research Council (AERC), is the first to study the effects of advertising, product placement in films, games, sporting events and music videos, depictions of drinking in various media, and exposure to product stands in shops. As per Smith, "Our work provides strong empirical evidence to inform the policy debate on the impact of alcohol advertising on young people, and policy groups may wish to revise or strengthen their policy recommendations in the light of this stronger evidence".

The authors observed that exposure to TV alcohol advertisements was linked to an increased tendency to drink, as were magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events or concerts. Hours spent watching films, playing games and watching music videos also correlated with young peoples' tendency to consume alcoholic beverages. Smith said, "All seven studies demonstrated significant effects across a range of different exposure variables and outcome measures. One showed that for each additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink increased by 9% during the following 18 months. Another observed that for each additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was a 15% increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:00 AM CT

Those inactive and overweight preschool children

Those inactive and overweight preschool children
The rate of childhood obesity has risen significantly in the United States, with a number of children becoming overweight at younger ages. At the same time, the number of preschoolers in center-based programs is also on the rise. Now a newly released study finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, preschoolers don't move around a lot, even when they're playing outside.

The study, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of South Carolina (USC), Michigan State University, and East Carolina University and led by Professor Russell R. Pate (at USC), is reported in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development

Using information from the Children's Activity and Movement in Preschools Study (CHAMPS), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the scientists looked at 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds enrolled in 24 community-based preschool programs.

They observed that the preschoolers were inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. Even when they played outside, a time when children are expected to move around, 56 percent of their activities were sedentary.

Furthermore, teachers very rarely encouraged the children to be physically active. But when balls and other items were made available, particularly outside, and when they had open spaces in which to play, the children were more likely to be active.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Gene aberrations that affect learning

Gene aberrations that affect learning
Mental deficiency is the most frequently occurring, yet least understood handicap in children. Even a mild form can lead to social isolation, bullying and require assistance with simple tasks. The most common variety, non-syndromic mental deficiency (NSMD), is defined as affecting an otherwise normal looking child. With few physical clues in affected children to point scientists towards candidates to study, progress in identifying genetic causes of NSMD has been very slow. Yet that is beginning to change.

Jacques L. Michaud, a geneticist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the Centre of Excellence in Neuromics of the Universit de Montral, has led a multidisciplinary team which has identified mutations in a novel gene in children with NSMD. Their study is published in today's issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) and includes collaborators from McGill University in Canada, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Nathan S Kline Institute in the U.S. and the Universit Paris Descartes in France.

"NSMD is a disorder that has a number of causes," says Dr. Michaud. "By linking this gene to one kind of NSMD, we better understand the causes and we can work towards a way of identifying and treating this incapacitating condition".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

How much screen time is enough for children with asthma?

How much screen time is enough for children with asthma?
Urban children with asthma engage in an average of an hour more of screen time daily than the maximum amount American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends. This is the first study to examine screen time among children with asthma.

"We know that both asthma and excessive screen time can be linked to other difficulties, including behavior problems, difficulty with attention, poor school performance and obesity," said Kelly M. Conn, M.P.H., of General Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong and main author of the study, which was published recently in Academic Pediatrics. (Academic Pediatrics changed its name from Ambulatory Pediatrics this year.) The study was conducted out of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

As a part of a larger study on how to more effectively treat asthma, Conn and her colleagues surveyed parents of urban children with asthma in Rochester, NY, to better understand their screen time viewing habits. Screen time includes TV watching and video tapes, playing video and computer games and using the Internet. The study observed that 74 percent of the 226 children whose parents were surveyed exceeded more than two hours of screen time per day. On average, these children with asthma watched 3.4 hours daily.

"Even though these findings are preliminary, a message for parents would be to remain aware of the amount of time your child is spending in front of screens and try to encourage your child to participate in a range of activities," Conn said. The types of programs children watch are also important; young children should watch shows meant for their age group, rather than watching PG-13 or R-rated movies, or playing Teen-rated games.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:26 AM CT

Maternal drinking and behavioral dysfunction in children

Maternal drinking and behavioral dysfunction in children
While a number of people are aware that drinking during pregnancy can lead to a range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), including the serious Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), linkages between maternal-drinking measures and child outcomes have been inconsistent. Scientists have now designed a "metric" or combination of measures that appear better able than individual measures to predict prenatal neurobehavioral dysfunction and deficits in children.

Results would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"The number of children being born with FAS remains unnecessarily high," said Lisa M. Chiodo, a researcher at Wayne State University and corresponding author for the study. "In part this is because it is difficult to identify patterns of drinking during pregnancy that put women's children at risk for FAS and other FASDs".

Chiodo said that eventhough there are several measures of maternal drinking during pregnancy, their ability to predict child outcomes especially cognitive and behavioral problems has been inconsistent. "We thought that combining a number of of the clinical and research measures of alcohol drinking into a single metric might help us find every child in our study who had been exposed to levels of alcohol that put them at risk," she said.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more


February 2, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression
A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP was the first to use twin data to examine the longitudinal link between sleep problems and depression. Results of this study demonstrate that sleep problems predict later depression; the converse association was not found. These findings are consistent with the theory that early therapy of sleep problems may protect children from the development of depression.

Results of the study indicate that the stability of sleep problems across time is mainly caused by genetic factors (46 percent of the genetic influences on sleep at age 10 were the same as those that influenced a child at age 8). The stability of depression is mainly caused by non-shared environmental influences (19 percent of the non-shared environmental influence on depression at age 10 remained the same from the age of eight).

As per main author Alice M. Gregory, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at Goldsmiths College in London, the most surprising result of the study concerned the reasons why there appears to be links between sleep problems and depression at different points in a young person's life.

"We reported in a study previously, that genes were the most important factor in explaining the association between sleep problems and depression in eight year olds," said Gregory. "However, when we examined this issue at age 10, we observed that genes were less important in explaining the association and that environmental influences had become more important. This could be because environmental experiences are becoming more relevant as children grow older and could therefore play a role in both sleep problems and depression".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 29, 2009, 6:11 AM CT

Preterm birth and autism

Preterm birth and autism
Recent studies have suggested that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appears to be more prevalent among children born very prematurely. The early symptoms of ASD are also linked to other conditions correlation to preterm births, such as cerebral palsy, which can make it difficult to correctly screen children for ASD. Because of this, scientists have begun to explore the relationship between preterm birth, cognitive and developmental impairments, and ASD. Two articles soon would be published in The Journal of Pediatrics explore this possible connection between preterm birth and ASD.

Dr. Karl Kuban and his colleagues from Boston University, Wake Forest University, and Harvard University studied 988 children born between 2002 and 2004 who participated in the ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn) study, a large, multi-center study that enrolled more than 1500 infants born at least three months prematurely. They wanted to explore whether children born preterm are more likely to screen positive on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), a survey administered to a caregiver regarding a child's behavior. Pediatricians typically wait to formally diagnose ASD until after a child's third birthday. In this study, however, the caregivers of the infants completed the M-CHAT when the children were 24 months of age. The scientists observed that 21% of the preterm children screened positive for ASD.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:35 PM CT

Controversy of using stimulants to treat asthma

Controversy of using stimulants to treat asthma
HOUSTON Just when the Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering the use of stimulants to treat asthma, a new research study offers further evidence to support a University of Houston professor's theory that an opposite approach to asthma treatment may be in order.

Richard A. Bond, professor of pharmacology at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy (UHCOP), has been investigating whether beta-2 adrenoreceptor antagonist drugs (or beta blockers) ultimately might be a safer, more effective strategy for long-term asthma management than the currently used beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonists (or stimulants).

The beta-2 adrenoreceptor is a receptor found in many cells, including the smooth muscle lining the airways, and has long been a target for asthma drugs. However, a recent study shows the absence of asthma-like symptoms in a mouse model that lacks the key gene that produces the receptor. This lends further evidence to Bond's theory that questions whether the pharmaceutical industry should be working to block or inhibit the receptor instead of the current approach of chronically stimulating it to reduce asthma symptoms.

The study, "Beta2-Adrenoreceptor Signaling is Required for the Development of an Asthma Phenotype in a Murine Model," is in the current online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. A follow-up commentary by an independent scientist in the field also would be published in the print issue of PNAS in February.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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