Archive | January, 2020

University of Western Ontario study: Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy

19 Jan

The National Institute on Drug (NIH) Abuse article What is medical marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.
However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.
Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use.
Why isn’t the marijuana plant an FDA-approved medicine?
The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.
Read more about the various physical, mental, and behavioral effects of marijuana in our Marijuana DrugFacts.
Medical Marijuana Laws and Prescription Opioid Use Outcomes
A new study underscores the need for additional research on the effect of medical marijuana laws on opioid overdose deaths and cautions against drawing a causal connection between the two. Early research suggested that there may be a relationship between the availability of medical marijuana and opioid analgesic overdose mortality. In particular, a NIDA-funded study published in 2014 found that from 1999 to 2010, states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower rates of increase in opioid analgesic overdose death rates compared to states without such laws.1
A 2019 analysis, also funded by NIDA, re-examined this relationship using data through 2017. Similar to the findings reported previously, this research team found that opioid overdose mortality rates between 1999-2010 in states allowing medical marijuana use were 21% lower than expected. When the analysis was extended through 2017, however, they found that the trend reversed, such that states with medical cannabis laws experienced an overdose death rate 22.7% higher than expected.2 The investigators uncovered no evidence that either broader cannabis laws (those allowing recreational use) or more restrictive laws (those only permitting the use of marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations) were associated with changes in opioid overdose mortality rates.
These data, therefore, do not support the interpretation that access to cannabis reduces opioid overdose. Indeed, the authors note that neither study provides evidence of a causal relationship between marijuana access and opioid overdose deaths. Rather, they suggest that the associations are likely due to factors the researchers did not measure, and they caution against drawing conclusions on an individual level from ecological (population-level) data. Research is still needed on the potential medical benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids.
Read more in our Marijuana Research Report. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-safe-effective-medicine https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

Resources:

Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/marijuana-medical-benefits-large-review/

Marijuana and Cannabinoids | NCCIH
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/marijuana

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/marijuana/

Science Daily reported the Lancet study: Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health:

Meta-analysis finds inadequate evidence that cannabinoids relieve depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.
The new findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, find insufficient evidence medicinal cannabinoids improve disorders overall or their symptoms, although there is a very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may lead to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety in individuals with other medical conditions, such as chronic pain or multiple sclerosis.
Medicinal cannabinoids include medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids, and their synthetic derivatives, THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Around the world, these are increasingly being made available for medicinal purposes (e.g. in the United States, Australia, and Canada), including for the treatment of mental health disorders. However, there are concerns around the adverse effects of this availability, as there is a large body of evidence indicating that non-medicinal cannabis use can increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.
Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, Australia, and lead author of the study says: “Our findings have important implications in countries where cannabis and cannabinoids are being made available for medical use. There is a notable absence of high-quality evidence to properly assess the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared with placebo, and until evidence from randomised controlled trials is available, clinical guidelines cannot be drawn up around their use in mental health disorders.”
She continues: “In countries where medicinal cannabinoids are already legal, doctors and patients must be aware of the limitations of existing evidence and the risks of cannabinoids. These must be weighed when considering use to treat symptoms of common mental health disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids.”
This study follows The Lancet Series on Drug Use, which includes a paper on cannabis where the authors assess the current and possible future public health impacts of the legalisation of cannabis production, sale, and use in the Americas. They summarise the overall evidence on medicinal use of cannabinoids, regulation, and how medicinal use may have affected recreational use.
The authors set out to examine the available evidence for all types of medicinal cannabinoids. They included all study designs and investigated the impact on remission from and symptoms of six mental health disorders in adults: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis.
They included published and unpublished studies between 1980 and 2018 and included 83 eligible studies, 40 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (the others were open-label trials, where participants knew which treatment they were taking). Of the 83 studies, 42 looked at depression (including 23 RCTs), 31 looked at anxiety (17 RCTs), eight looked at Tourette syndrome (two RCTs), three were on ADHD (one RCT), 12 were on PTSD (one RCT), and 11 were on psychosis (six RCTs).
In most RCTs examining depression and anxiety, the primary reason for cannabinoid use was for another medical condition such as chronic non-cancer pain or multiple sclerosis. In the studies looking at the other four disorders, the cannabinoid was used to treat the mental health disorder. Few randomised controlled trials examined the role of pharmaceutical CBD or medicinal cannabis; most looked at THC, with or without CBD.
The authors found that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) improved anxiety symptoms among individuals with other medical conditions (seven studies of 252 people), though this may have been due to improvements in the primary medical condition. The authors suggest further research should explicitly study the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety and depression…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191028213912.htm

Citation:

Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health
Date: October 28, 2019
Source: The Lancet
Summary:
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.

Journal Reference:
Nicola Black, Emily Stockings, Gabrielle Campbell, Lucy T Tran, Dino Zagic, Wayne D Hall, Michael Farrell, Louisa Degenhardt. Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30401-8

Science Daily reported in Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy:

A new study from researchers at Western University and Queen’s University definitively shows that regular exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, during pregnancy has significant impact on placental and fetal development. With more than a year since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the effects of its use during pregnancy are only now beginning to be understood.
The study, published today in Scientific Reports, uses a rat model and human placental cells to show that maternal exposure to THC during pregnancy has a measurable impact on both the development of the organs of the fetus and the gene expression that is essential to placental function.
The researchers demonstrated in a rat model that regular exposure to a low-dose of THC that mimics daily use of cannabis during pregnancy led to a reduction in birth weight of 8 per cent and decreased brain and liver growth by more than 20 per cent.
“This data supports clinical studies that suggest cannabis use during pregnancy it is associated with low birth weight babies. Clinical data is complicated because it is confounded by other factors such as socioeconomic status,” said Dan Hardy, PhD, Associate Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author on the paper. “This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth.”
The research team was also able to characterize how THC prevents oxygen and nutrients from crossing the placenta into the developing fetus. By studying human placental cells, the researchers found that exposure to THC caused a decrease in a glucose transporter called GLUT-1. This indicates that the THC is preventing the placental transfer of glucose, a key nutrient, from the mother to the fetus. They also found a reduction in placental vasculature in the rat model suggesting reduced blood flow from the mother to the fetus.
The researchers say both of those factors are likely contributing to the growth restriction that they observed in the offspring….
“Marjiuana has been legalized in Canada and in many states in the US, however, its use during pregnancy has not been well studied up until this point. This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy,” said David Natale, PhD, Associate Professor at Queen’s and co-author on the paper.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200117104756.htm

Citation:

Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy
Date: January 17, 2020
Source: University of Western Ontario
Summary:
A new study has definitively shown that regular exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, during pregnancy has significant impact on placental and fetal development.

Journal Reference:
Bryony V. Natale, Katarina N. Gustin, Kendrick Lee, Alison C. Holloway, Steven R. Laviolette, David R. C. Natale, Daniel B. Hardy. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure during rat pregnancy leads to symmetrical fetal growth restriction and labyrinth-specific vascular defects in the placenta. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-57318-6

Here is the press release from the University of Western Ontario:

JANUARY 17, 2020

Research shows real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy
by University of Western Ontario

The study, published today in Scientific Reports, uses a rat model and human placental cells to show that maternal exposure to THC during pregnancy has a measurable impact on both the development of the organs of the fetus and the gene expression that is essential to placental function.
The researchers demonstrated in a rat model that regular exposure to a low-dose of THC that mimics daily use of cannabis during pregnancy led to a reduction in birth weight of 8 per cent and decreased brain and liver growth by more than 20 per cent.
“This data supports clinical studies that suggest cannabis use during pregnancy it is associated with low birth weight babies. Clinical data is complicated because it is confounded by other factors such as socioeconomic status,” said Dan Hardy, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author on the paper. “This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth.”
The research team was also able to characterize how THC prevents oxygen and nutrients from crossing the placenta into the developing fetus. By studying human placental cells, the researchers found that exposure to THC caused a decrease in a glucose transporter called GLUT-1. This indicates that the THC is preventing the placental transfer of glucose, a key nutrient, from the mother to the fetus. They also found a reduction in placental vasculature in the rat model suggesting reduced blood flow from the mother to the fetus.
The researchers say both of those factors are likely contributing to the growth restriction that they observed in the offspring.
The researchers point out that there are currently no clear guidelines from Health Canada on the use of cannabis in pregnancy and some studies have shown that up to one in five women are using cannabis during pregnancy to prevent morning sickness, for anxiety or for social reasons.
“Marjiuana has been legalized in Canada and in many states in the US, however, its use during pregnancy has not been well studied up until this point. This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy,” said David Natale, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Queen’s and co-author on the paper.
________________________________________
Explore further
Pot while pregnant: medicine doctors urge caution
________________________________________
More information: Bryony V. Natale et al, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure during rat pregnancy leads to symmetrical fetal growth restriction and labyrinth-specific vascular defects in the placenta, Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-57318-6
Journal information: Scientific Reports
Provided by University of Western Ontario

THE JURY IS OUT ON THE MEDICAL USES OF MARIJUANA.

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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University of Virginia study: Study finds dopamine, biological clock link to snacking, overeating and obesity

16 Jan

Lisa Simonson wrote in the Livestrong article, What Are Good & Bad Healthy Lifestyle Choices?

Everyone makes both good and bad lifestyle choices. You may make the choices you do because of learned habits, stress, exhaustion and even timeliness. To live a healthy lifestyle you need to have a nutrient-rich diet, moderate exercise each week, get enough rest and avoid products that can lead to unhealthy habits…. https://www.livestrong.com/article/381713-what-are-good-bad-healthy-lifestyle-choices/
See, Why Digital Overload Is Now Central to the Human Condition https://singularityhub.com/2016/01/15/why-grappling-with-digital-overload-is-now-part-of-the-human-condition/#sm.0001du9uyrj9zefstyx14vmmdlhp8
Science Daily reported in Digital device overload linked to obesity risk:
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “So, we wanted to conduct this research to determine whether links exists between obesity and abuse of digital devices — as captured by people’s tendency to engage in media multitasking….”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190402164520.htm

Citation:

Digital device overload linked to obesity risk
Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Rice University
Summary:
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.

Journal Reference:
Richard B. Lopez, Todd F. Heatherton, Dylan D. Wagner. Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 2019; DOI: 10.1007/s11682-019-00056-0

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/obesity/

Science Daily reported in Study finds dopamine, biological clock link to snacking, overeating and obesity:

During the years 1976 through 1980, 15% of U.S. adults were obese. Today, about 40% of adults are obese. Another 33% are overweight.
Coinciding with this increase in weight are ever-rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and health complications caused by obesity, such as hypertension. Even Alzheimer’s disease may be partly attributable to obesity and physical inactivity.
“The diet in the U.S. and other nations has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so, with highly processed foods readily and cheaply available at any time of the day or night,” Ali Güler, a professor of biology at the University of Virginia, said. “Many of these foods are high in sugars, carbohydrates and calories, which makes for an unhealthy diet when consumed regularly over many years.”
In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, Güler and his colleagues demonstrate that the pleasure center of the brain that produces the chemical dopamine, and the brain’s separate biological clock that regulates daily physiological rhythms, are linked, and that high-calorie foods — which bring pleasure — disrupt normal feeding schedules, resulting in overconsumption. Using mice as study models, the researchers mimicked the 24/7 availability of a high-fat diet, and showed that anytime snacking eventually results in obesity and related health problems.
Güler’s team found that mice fed a diet comparable to a wild diet in calories and fats maintained normal eating and exercise schedules and proper weight. But mice fed high-calorie diets laden with fats and sugars began “snacking” at all hours and became obese.
Additionally, so-called “knockout” mice that had their dopamine signaling disrupted — meaning they didn’t seek the rewarding pleasure of the high-fat diet — maintained a normal eating schedule and did not become obese, even when presented with the 24/7 availability of high-calorie feeds.
“We’ve shown that dopamine signaling in the brain governs circadian biology and leads to consumption of energy-dense foods between meals and during odd hours,” Güler said.
Other studies have shown, Güler said, that when mice feed on high-fat foods between meals or during what should be normal resting hours, the excess calories are stored as fat much more readily than the same number of calories consumed only during normal feeding periods. This eventually results in obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.
Speaking of the modern human diet, Güler said, “The calories of a full meal may now be packed into a small volume, such as a brownie or a super-size soda. It is very easy for people to over-consume calories and gain excessive weight, often resulting in obesity and a lifetime of related health problems.
“Half of the diseases that affect humans are worsened by obesity. And this results in the need for more medical care and higher health care costs for individuals, and society.”
Güler said the human body, through thousands of years of evolution, is hard-wired to consume as much food as possible as long as it’s available. He said this comes from a long earlier history when people hunted or gathered food and had brief periods of plenty, such as after a kill, and then potentially lengthy periods of famine. Humans also were potential prey to large animals and so actively sought food during the day, and sheltered and rested at night.
“We evolved under pressures we no longer have,” Güler said. “It is natural for our bodies as organisms to want to consume as much as possible, to store fat, because the body doesn’t know when the next meal is coming…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200103111717.htm

Citation:

Study finds dopamine, biological clock link to snacking, overeating and obesity
Date: January 3, 2020
Source: University of Virginia
Summary:
A new study finds that the pleasure center of the brain and the brain’s biological clock are linked, and that high-calorie foods — which bring pleasure — disrupt normal feeding schedules, resulting in overconsumption.

Journal Reference:
Ryan M. Grippo, Qijun Tang, Qi Zhang, Sean R. Chadwick, Yingnan Gao, Everett B. Altherr, Laura Sipe, Aarti M. Purohit, Nidhi M. Purohit, Meghana D. Sunkara, Krystyna J. Cios, Michael Sidikpramana, Anthony J. Spano, John N. Campbell, Andrew D. Steele, Jay Hirsh, Christopher D. Deppmann, Martin Wu, Michael M. Scott, Ali D. Güler. Dopamine Signaling in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Enables Weight Gain Associated with Hedonic Feeding. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.11.029

Here is the press release from the University of Virginia:

Study finds dopamine, biological clock link to snacking, overeating and obesity
by University of Virginia
Coinciding with this increase in weight are ever-rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and health complications caused by obesity, such as hypertension. Even Alzheimer’s disease may be partly attributable to obesity and physical inactivity.
“The diet in the U.S. and other nations has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so, with highly processed foods readily and cheaply available at any time of the day or night,” Ali Güler, a professor of biology at the University of Virginia, said. “Many of these foods are high in sugars, carbohydrates and calories, which makes for an unhealthy diet when consumed regularly over many years.”
In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, Güler and his colleagues demonstrate that the pleasure center of the brain that produces the chemical dopamine, and the brain’s separate biological clock that regulates daily physiological rhythms, are linked, and that high-calorie foods—which bring pleasure—disrupt normal feeding schedules, resulting in overconsumption. Using mice as study models, the researchers mimicked the 24/7 availability of a high-fat diet, and showed that anytime snacking eventually results in obesity and related health problems.
Güler’s team found that mice fed a diet comparable to a wild diet in calories and fats maintained normal eating and exercise schedules and proper weight. But mice fed high-calorie diets laden with fats and sugars began “snacking” at all hours and became obese.
Additionally, so-called “knockout” mice that had their dopamine signaling disrupted—meaning they didn’t seek the rewarding pleasure of the high-fat diet—maintained a normal eating schedule and did not become obese, even when presented with the 24/7 availability of high-calorie feeds.
“We’ve shown that dopamine signaling in the brain governs circadian biology and leads to consumption of energy-dense foods between meals and during odd hours,” Güler said.
Other studies have shown, Güler said, that when mice feed on high-fat foods between meals or during what should be normal resting hours, the excess calories are stored as fat much more readily than the same number of calories consumed only during normal feeding periods. This eventually results in obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.
Speaking of the modern human diet, Güler said, “The calories of a full meal may now be packed into a small volume, such as a brownie or a super-size soda. It is very easy for people to over-consume calories and gain excessive weight, often resulting in obesity and a lifetime of related health problems.
“Half of the diseases that affect humans are worsened by obesity. And this results in the need for more medical care and higher health care costs for individuals, and society.”
Güler said the human body, through thousands of years of evolution, is hard-wired to consume as much food as possible as long as it’s available. He said this comes from a long earlier history when people hunted or gathered food and had brief periods of plenty, such as after a kill, and then potentially lengthy periods of famine. Humans also were potential prey to large animals and so actively sought food during the day, and sheltered and rested at night.
“We evolved under pressures we no longer have,” Güler said. “It is natural for our bodies as organisms to want to consume as much as possible, to store fat, because the body doesn’t know when the next meal is coming.
“But, of course, food is now abundant, and our next meal is as close as the kitchen, or the nearest fast-food drive-through, or right here on our desk. Often, these foods are high in fats, sugars, and therefore calories, and that’s why they taste good. It’s easy to overconsume, and, over time, this takes a toll on our health.”
Additionally, Güler said, prior to the advent of our electricity-powered society, people started the day at dawn, worked all day, often doing manual labor, and then went to sleep with the setting of the sun. Human activity, therefore, was synchronized to day and night. Today, we are working, playing, staying connected—and eating—day and night. This, Guler said, affects our body clocks, which were evolved to operate on a sleep-wake cycle timed to daytime activity, moderate eating and nighttime rest.
“This lights-on-all-the-time, eat-at-any-time lifestyle recasts eating patterns and affects how the body utilizes energy,” he said. “It alters metabolism—as our study shows—and leads to obesity, which causes disease. We’re learning that when we eat is just as important as how much we eat. A calorie is not just a calorie. Calories consumed between meals or at odd hours become stored as fat, and that is the recipe for poor health.”
________________________________________
Explore further
Researchers identify neurons that control brain’s body clock
________________________________________
More information: Ryan M. Grippo et al, Dopamine Signaling in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Enables Weight Gain Associated with Hedonic Feeding, Current Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.11.029
Journal information: Current Biology
Provided by University of Virginia

In other words, much of the obesity problem is due to personal life style choices and the question is whether government can or should regulate those choices.

Personal Responsibility:

There is only one person responsible for your life and the vocation you have chosen. That person is the one you see in the mirror in the morning when you wake up. Don’t blame God, your boss, your parents, your former teachers, your coach, your co-workers or your dog. You and only you are responsible for your work life and what you have achieved. The sooner you accept this notion, the sooner you will begin to make changes that lead to a happier and more productive life and career. http://www.corethemes.com/coreconcepts/

It’s all about ME unless I have to take responsibility for ME. The same brilliant minds who think the government can substitute for family have fostered a single parenthood rate of 70% in the African-American community and about 50% for the population as a whole. Given the child abuse and foster care numbers, this plan hasn’t worked well. Sometimes folks have to be responsible for their choices.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Princeton University study: Baby and adult brains ‘sync up’ during play

11 Jan

Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Dan Childs of ABC News reports in the story, Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says:

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.
The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”
“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”
The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/recess-crucial-kids-aap-policy-statement/story?id=18083935#.UOZ606zIlIq

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn.

Debbie Rhea wrote the thoughtful Education Week commentary, Give Students Time to Play:

It seems counterintuitive to think that less classroom time and more outdoor play would lead to a better education for kids. After all, what many in our country, including most recently New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have prescribed are longer days in the classroom. But longer days on task don’t equate to better results. Instead, they translate into more burnout, lower test scores, and more of the same. All work and no play really does make dull boys and girls.
For years, educators have tried different strategies of more testing and of more time on task to reverse these trends, but they have proved to be unsuccessful. The answer is not additional in-class sitting time. What kids need is time to move and have unstructured play.
On a recent sabbatical, I spent six weeks in Finland studying how that country practices education. Reading, science, and math are important in the Finnish education system, but so are social studies, physical education, arts, music, foreign languages, and a number of practical skills. The school day in Finland looks much different from the school day in the United States.
“We should not sacrifice recess time for classroom time, and neither should be used to discipline students.”
In the United States, for example, a 1st grader attends school 35 hours a week, seven hours a day. In Finland, a 1st grader spends 22.5 hours a week in school, or 4.5 hours a day. Three hours each day are spent on content in the classroom, and another 1.5 hours are spent on recess or “unstructured outdoor play.” Some elementary schools in the United States do not have recess time built into their schedules, let alone outdoor recess.
Kids are built to move. Having more time for unstructured outdoor play is like handing them a reset button. It not only helps to break up their day, but it also allows them to blow off steam, while giving them an opportunity to move and redirect their energy to something more meaningful once they return to the classroom.
When a human sits for longer than about 20 minutes, the physiology of the brain and body changes. Gravity begins to pool blood into the hamstrings, robbing the brain of needed oxygen and glucose, or brain fuel. The brain essentially just falls asleep when we sit for too long. Moving and being active stimulates the neurons that fire in the brain. When you are sitting, those neurons don’t fire.
Getting students out of their chairs and moving outdoors is essential. A 2008 study published in JAMA Opthamology found that 42 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 12 and 54 are nearsighted. But 40 years ago, that number was only 25 percent, a change that can’t be explained by heredity. Time indoors can weaken our vision, especially if we are staring at computer screens and not looking away for long periods of time. Additional studies have also shown that when people have inadequate daylight exposure at work, particularly in areas that have poor indoor lighting, it can disrupt their circadian rhythms—the cycle that allows for healthy sleep. When these rhythms are thrown off, it can have a negative impact on academic performance.
I’m such a believer in more unstructured outdoor play and recess throughout the day that I’ve launched a pilot program called Project ISIS—Innovating Strategies, Inspiring Students—that is being implemented in two Texas private schools, with an additional three public elementary schools in that state coming on board by the fall. While the program doesn’t reduce the number of hours spent at school, it does build in more outside recess time. Students get two 15-minute unstructured outdoor-play breaks in the morning (one is right before lunch, the other is a full lunch with a short recess afterward), and then two more 15-minute recess breaks in the afternoon. These schools will continue to have physical education as a content area.
We should not sacrifice recess time for classroom time, and neither should be used to discipline students. The more movement children have throughout the day, the better they will be with attentional focus, behavioral issues, and academic performance…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/26/22rhea.h33.html?tkn=VRYFMBKESIDvZIGHetFWpKk1lBN%2FPqxFrjSh&intc=es
We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream.

Related:

The ‘whole child’ approach to education
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

Science Daily reported in Baby and adult brains ‘sync up’ during play: It’s not your imagination — you and your baby really are on the same wavelength:

Have you ever played with a baby and felt a sense of connection, even though they couldn’t yet talk to you? New research suggests that you might quite literally be “on the same wavelength,” experiencing similar brain activity in the same brain regions.
A team of Princeton researchers has conducted the first study of how baby and adult brains interact during natural play, and they found measurable similarities in their neural activity. In other words, baby and adult brain activity rose and fell together as they shared toys and eye contact. The research was conducted at the Princeton Baby Lab, where University researchers study how babies learn to see, talk and understand the world.
“Previous research has shown that adults’ brains sync up when they watch movies and listen to stories, but little is known about how this ‘neural synchrony’ develops in the first years of life,” said Elise Piazza, an associate research scholar in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI) and the first author on a paper published Dec. 17, 2019, in Psychological Science.
Piazza and her co-authors — Liat Hasenfratz, an associate research scholar in PNI; Uri Hasson, a professor of psychology and neuroscience; and Casey Lew-Williams, an associate professor of psychology — posited that neural synchrony has important implications for social development and language learning.
Studying real-life, face-to-face communication between babies and adults is quite difficult. Most past studies of neural coupling, many of which were conducted in Hasson’s lab, involved scanning adults’ brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in separate sessions, while the adults lay down and watched movies or listened to stories….https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200109163956.htm

Here is the press release from Princeton:

Baby and adult brains ‘sync up’ during play, finds Princeton Baby Lab
Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Jan. 9, 2020 12:44 p.m.
Have you ever played with a baby and felt a sense of connection, even though they couldn’t yet talk to you? New research suggests that you might quite literally be “on the same wavelength,” experiencing similar brain activity in the same brain regions.
A team of Princeton researchers has conducted the first study of how baby and adult brains interact during natural play, and they found measurable similarities in their neural activity. In other words, baby and adult brain activity rose and fell together as they shared toys and eye contact. The research was conducted at the Princeton Baby Lab, where University researchers study how babies learn to see, talk and understand the world.
“Previous research has shown that adults’ brains sync up when they watch movies and listen to stories, but little is known about how this ‘neural synchrony’ develops in the first years of life,” said Elise Piazza, an associate research scholar in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI) and the first author on a paper published Dec. 17, 2019, in Psychological Science.
Piazza and her co-authors — Liat Hasenfratz, an associate research scholar in PNI; Uri Hasson, a professor of psychology and neuroscience; and Casey Lew-Williams, an associate professor of psychology — posited that neural synchrony has important implications for social development and language learning.
Studying real-life, face-to-face communication between babies and adults is quite difficult. Most past studies of neural coupling, many of which were conducted in Hasson’s lab, involved scanning adults’ brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in separate sessions, while the adults lay down and watched movies or listened to stories.
But to study real-time communication, the researchers needed to create a child-friendly method of recording brain activity simultaneously from baby and adult brains. With funding from the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Grant, the researchers developed a new dual-brain neuroimaging system that uses functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is highly safe and records oxygenation in the blood as a proxy for neural activity. The setup allowed the researchers to record the neural coordination between babies and an adult while they played with toys, sang songs and read a book.
The same adult interacted with all 42 infants and toddlers who participated in the study. Of those, 21 had to be excluded because they “squirmed excessively,” and three others flat-out refused to wear the cap, leaving 18 children, ranging in age from 9 months to 15 months.
The experiment had two portions. In one, the adult experimenter spent five minutes interacting directly with a child — playing with toys, singing nursery rhymes or reading Goodnight Moon — while the child sat on their parent’s lap. In the other, the experimenter turned to the side and told a story to another adult while the child played quietly with their parent.
The caps collected data from 57 channels of the brain known to be involved in prediction, language processing and understanding other people’s perspectives.
When they looked at the data, the researchers found that during the face-to-face sessions, the babies’ brains were synchronized with the adult’s brain in several areas known to be involved in high-level understanding of the world — perhaps helping the children decode the overall meaning of a story or analyze the motives of the adult reading to them.
When the adult and infant were turned away from each other and engaging with other people, the coupling between them disappeared.
That fit with researchers’ expectations, but the data also had surprises in store. For example, the strongest coupling occurred in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in learning, planning and executive functioning and was previously thought to be quite underdeveloped during infancy.
“We were also surprised to find that the infant brain was often ‘leading’ the adult brain by a few seconds, suggesting that babies do not just passively receive input but may guide adults toward the next thing they’re going to focus on: which toy to pick up, which words to say,” said Lew-Williams, who is a co-director of the Princeton Baby Lab.
“While communicating, the adult and child seem to form a feedback loop,” Piazza added. “That is, the adult’s brain seemed to predict when the infants would smile, the infants’ brains anticipated when the adult would use more ‘baby talk,’ and both brains tracked joint eye contact and joint attention to toys. So, when a baby and adult play together, their brains influence each other in dynamic ways.”
This two-brain approach to neuroscience could open doors to understanding how coupling with caregivers breaks down in atypical development — such as in children diagnosed with autism — as well as how educators can optimize their teaching approaches to accommodate children’s diverse brains.
The researchers are continuing to investigate how this neural coupling relates to preschoolers’ early language learning.
“Infant and adult brains are coupled to the dynamics of natural communication,” by Elise A. Piazza, Liat Hasenfratz, Uri Hasson and Casey Lew-Williams, was published Dec. 17, 2019, in Psychological Science. This work was supported by the Princeton University C. V. Starr Fellowship to E. A. Piazza; the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Award to E. A. Piazza, U. Hasson and C. Lew-Williams; National Institutes of Health Grant 5DP1HD091948 to U. Hasson; and NIH Grants R01HD095912 and R03HD079779 to C. Lew-Williams.

Citation:

Baby and adult brains ‘sync up’ during play
It’s not your imagination — you and your baby really are on the same wavelength
Date: January 9, 2020
Source: Princeton University
Summary:
A team of researchers has conducted the first study of how baby and adult brains interact during natural play, and they found measurable connections in their neural activity. In other words, baby and adult brain activity rose and fell together as they shared toys and eye contact.

Journal Reference:
Elise A. Piazza, Liat Hasenfratz, Uri Hasson, Casey Lew-Williams. Infant and Adult Brains Are Coupled to the Dynamics of Natural Communication. Psychological Science, 2019; 095679761987869 DOI: 10.1177/0956797619878698

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