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October 13, 2009, 7:44 AM CT

How do people choose a name for their child?

How do people choose a name for their child?
How do people choose a name for their child? Scientists have long noted that the overall popularity of a name exerts a strong influence on people's preferencesmore popular names, such as Robert or Susan, are more frequent and, by their sheer ubiquity, drive more parents to adopt a similar choice. However, new research by psychology experts at New York University and Indiana University, Bloomington suggests that the change in popularity of a name over time increasingly influences naming decisions in the United States. Like momentum traders in the stock market, parents today appear to favor names that have recently risen in popularity relative to names that are on the decline.

The research, which is relevant to understanding how people's everyday decisions are influenced by aggregate cultural processes, was conducted by Todd Gureckis, an assistant professor of psychology at NYU, and Robert Goldstone, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. It appears in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science (Wiley-Blackwell).

"Our results give support to the idea that individual naming choices are in a large part determined by the social environment that expecting parents experience," the authors wrote. "Like the stock market, cycles of boom and bust appear arise out of the interactions of a large set of agents who are continually influencing one another".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 12, 2009, 7:10 AM CT

Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain

Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain
Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D. is a researcher at University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Credit: UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders

Children with functional abdominal pain who used audio recordings of guided imagery at home in addition to standard medical therapy were almost three times as likely to improve their pain problem, in comparison to children who received standard therapy alone.

And those benefits were maintained six months after therapy ended, a newly released study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center scientists has found.

The study is reported in the November 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics The main author is Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders.

"What is particularly exciting about our study is that children can clearly reduce their abdominal pain a lot on their own with guidance from audio recordings, and they get much better results that way than from medical care alone," said van Tilburg. "Such self-administered therapy is, of course, very inexpensive and can be used in addition to other therapys, which potentially opens the door for easily enhancing therapy outcomes for a lot of children suffering from frequent stomach aches".

The study focused on functional abdominal pain, defined according tosistent pain with no identifiable underlying disease that interferes with activities. It is very common, affecting up to 20 percent of children. Previous studies have observed that behavioral treatment and guided imagery (a therapy method similar to self-hypnosis) are effective, when combined with regular medical care, to reduce pain and improve quality of life. But for a number of children behavioral treatment is not available because it is costly, takes a lot of time and requires a highly trained therapist.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 7, 2009, 7:58 PM CT

Autism Speaks' genetic resource exchange

Autism Speaks' genetic resource exchange
Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) and the Autism Tissue Program (ATP) continue to play an integral role in continuing genetic research and new findings in the complex autism inheritance and causation puzzle. As per a research findings reported in the October 7, edition of the journal Nature, an extensive research team of more than 75 research institutions identified semaphoring 5A, a gene implicated in the growth of neurons to form proper contacts and connections with other neurons. Prior studies have reported lower levels of this protein in blood samples from individuals with autism as in comparison to controls. In this study, the scientists were also able to extend that observation to the brain tissue of individuals with autism vs. control brains.

"Taken as a whole, results from this study are consistent with reports from the past few years implicating gene/molecules involved with cell to cell contact and communication," explained Andy Shih, Ph.D., Autism Speaks vice president of scientific affairs. "If this finding holds and is further supported with additional research such as a functional study of the variant semaphorin 5A, this molecule could represent another biological target for pharmaceutical intervention in the future and possible therapy for some individuals with autism".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 7, 2009, 7:06 AM CT

Many children are exposed to violence and abuse

Many children are exposed to violence and abuse
A newly released study from the University of New Hampshire finds that U.S. children are routinely exposed to even more violence and abuse than has been previously recognized, with nearly half experiencing a physical assault in the study year.

"Children experience far more violence, abuse and crime than do adults," said David Finkelhor, director of the UNH Crimes against Children Research Center and the study director. "If life were this dangerous for ordinary grown-ups, we'd never tolerate it".

The research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The research results are presented in the journal Pediatrics and an Office of Justice Programs/OJJDP bulletin titled "Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey".

UNH scientists asked a national sample of U.S. children and their caregivers about a far broader range of exposures than has been done in the past.

As per the research, three out of five children were exposed to violence, abuse or a criminal victimization in the last year, including 46 percent who had been physically assaulted, 10 percent who had been maltreated by a caregiver, 6 percent who had been sexually victimized, and 10 percent who had witnessed an assault within their family.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 1, 2009, 6:50 AM CT

Don't let him eat sweet everyday

Don't let him eat sweet everyday
Children who eat sweets and chocolate every day are more likely to be violent as adults, as per new research.

A study of almost 17,500 participants in the 1970 British Cohort Study observed that 10-year-olds who ate confectionary daily were significantly more likely to have been convicted for violence at age 34 years.

The study, reported in the recent issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first to examine the long-term effects of childhood diet on adult violence.

Scientists from Cardiff University observed that 69 per cent of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, in comparison to 42% who were non-violent.

This link between confectionary consumption and violence remained after controlling for other factors.

The scientists put forward several explanations for the link. Lead researcher Dr Simon Moore said: "Our favoured explanation is that giving children sweets and chocolate regularly may stop them learning how to wait to obtain something they want. Not being able to defer gratification may push them towards more impulsive behaviour, which is strongly linked to delinquency."

The scientists concluded: "This association between confectionary consumption and violence needs further attention. Targeting resources at improving children's diet may improve health and reduce aggression".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 1, 2009, 6:45 AM CT

Antidepressant or placebo?

Antidepressant or placebo?
When used "off-label," the antidepressant amitriptyline works just as well as placebo in treating pain-predominant gastrointestinal disorders in children, as per a newly released study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. To view this article's video abstract, go to the AGA's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/AmerGastroAssn.

"A number of pharmaceutical products are prescribed for off-label use in children due to the lack of clinical trials testing the efficacy of the drugs in children and adolescents. Therefore, the pediatric gastroenterologist frequently has to make therapy decisions without the evidence of how drugs work in children," said Miguel Saps, MD, of Children's Memorial Hospital and main author of the study. "The high placebo effect we identified in this study suggests that further studies of the use of certain antidepressants in children with functional bowel disorders are needed. While several trials have demonstrated a beneficial effect of antidepressants, including amitriptyline, for the therapy of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults, more studies are needed to determine how effective this drug is, if at all, in children".

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is used to treat symptoms of depression, however, it is often times prescribed to children for pain relief from pain-predominant functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Pain-predominant FGIDs are among the most common causes for medical consultation in children. Such disorders include three common conditions: IBS, functional dyspepsia and functional abdominal pain.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:50 AM CT

How to deliver the bad news?

How to deliver the bad news?
New prenatal tests for Down syndrome are soon to be offered to all pregnant women across the United States, yet telling an expectant couple that their child will be born with Down syndrome is a task very few physicians are trained for, claims research reported in the American Journal of Medical Genetics The study, which evaluated decades of surveys and interviews, offers several recommendations for how physicians can best deliver the news.

A 29-member research team, led by Dr. Brian Skotko from Children's Hospital Boston, supported by the National Down Syndrome Society and informed by experts from across the field, evaluated surveys and research ranging from 1960 to present day to consider how prepared physicians felt they are to deliver a diagnosis. They also studied the opinions of couples who had received the diagnosis to determine the best way of delivering the news.

"Down syndrome (DS) remains the most common chromosomal condition. It occurs in one out of every 733 live births," said Skotko. "Nearly every obstetrician can expect to have a conversation with expectant parents about the realities of life with DS, but very little research has been dedicated to understanding how physicians should communicate the news".

The team observed that in a 2004 survey approximately 45% of obstetric fellows rated their training as "barely adequate or nonexistent"; a similar survey four years later found little change as 40% thought their training was "less than adequate." In 2005 a survey of 2,500 medical students showed that 81% believed they were "not getting any clinical training regarding individuals with intellectual disabilities."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:48 AM CT

Screening for jaundice in new born infants

Screening for jaundice in new born infants
Screening for excess amounts of bilirubin in new born infants can significantly decrease the occurrence rate of severe jaundice which, in extreme cases, can lead to seizures and brain damage, as per scientists at UCSF Children's Hospital and Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, CA.

The study, one of the first to examine the effectiveness of universal screening for hyperbilirubinemia, appears in the current issue of "Pediatrics," the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study is one of six in this issue to explore the topic of bilirubin and hyperbilirubinemia.

Hyperbilirubinemia is caused by an elevation of a bile pigment, called bilirubin, in the blood. Bilirubin is made when the body breaks down old red blood cells, and high levels can cause jaundice, a condition that makes the newborn's skin and the white part of the eyes look yellow.

The scientists explain that most newborns have a rise in bilirubin in the days following birth. However, very high blood levels can be toxic to the nervous system. Monitoring these levels in babies with jaundice is important so that therapy can be started before levels become excessive, explain the researchers. They add that high bilirubin levels can be treated with light treatment, which converts the bilirubin into a form that the body can remove.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 20, 2009, 6:58 PM CT

Why it's hard to be good

Why it's hard to be good
Being seen as either well behaved or naughty at school is never entirely in the hands of the individual child, this study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows.

The research demonstrates that being good is not a simple matter. Once some children acquire poor overall reputations among teachers and other school staff, classmates and parents, it becomes difficult for them to be regarded as good. When young children start school they also have to develop interpretive skills to decode and negotiate mixed messages about how to behave.

This study of four and five year olds in reception classes was undertaken by Professor Maggie MacLure and Professor Liz Jones of Manchester Metropolitan University. They observed that two broad types of behaviour in school cause particular concern: physical actions such as kicking and punching and persistent failure to comply with adults' requests. Repeatedly calling out or not sitting properly in class, failing to listen or being noisy in queues are all examples of conduct likely to arouse the concern of teachers and other staff.

Yet such behaviour does not always result in children gaining poor reputations. This is most likely to happen when a child's immediate conduct is regarded as a sign of a wider problem.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 21, 2009, 7:14 AM CT

Visits Nana's with your toddlers

Visits Nana's with your toddlers
This is University of Alberta researcher Sheree Kwong-See with images from her study.

Credit: Jamie Hanlon, University of Alberta staff

It's easy to list the negative stereotypes attributed to the elderly: they are considered forgetful, hard-of-hearing, absent-minded and confused.

What's unsettling is that those stereotypes can be present in children as young as two or three.

Research conducted by the University of Alberta's Sheree Kwong See, a psychology researcher, has identified that those stereotypes exist in some children at that age, which could adversely affect them when they are older.

"We've been able to show really early on that kids, when they're just starting to talk, have established beliefs about older people," said Kwong See. "We're seeing what we could call ageism by about age three".

In a recent study to be reported in the journal Educational Gerontology, Kwong See and fellow researcher Elena Nicoladis measured the reactions of young children after being quizzed on vocabulary words by either an older or younger adult. Results showed that children who had less exposure to elderly adults had a stronger language bias against the older person in the experiment than those who had more exposure to older people.

"If you are interacting with 'nana' more frequently, you'll start to see that she's a pretty good teacher of words even though she's old," said Kwong See. "When you have little contact dominant negative cultural stereotypes emerge. You think an older person isn't as alert or in-the-know as a young person and maybe is not as good a teacher".........

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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