Tag Archives: Children

Yale School of Public Health study: Mothers-to-be, babies benefit from group prenatal care

25 Dec

The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services explains why healthy babies are important. “Healthy babies are more likely to develop into healthy children, and healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy teenagers and healthy adults.” http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/earlychildhood/health/index.aspx

Science Daily reported in Mothers-to-be, babies benefit from group prenatal care, study finds:

Group prenatal care can substantially improve health outcomes for both mothers and their infants, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

The paper was published online Dec. 21 in The American Journal of Public Health.

Women who received group — rather than individual — prenatal care were 33% less likely to have infants who were small for gestational age. In addition, group-care recipients had reduced risk for preterm delivery and low birthweight. Babies born to these women also spent fewer days in the neonatal intensive care unit. In addition, mothers with more group prenatal care visits were less likely to become pregnant again quickly after giving birth, an important outcome known as “birth spacing” that reduces the risk of having another baby at risk for preterm delivery.

“Few clinical interventions have had an impact on birth outcomes,” said Professor Jeannette R. Ickovics, the study’s lead author. “Group prenatal care is related to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, without adding risk. If scaled nationally, group prenatal care could lead to significant improvements in birth outcomes, health disparities, and healthcare costs,” she added.

The research team conducted a randomized controlled trial in 14 health centers in New York City, and compared the birth outcomes of women who received CenteringPregnancy Plus group prenatal care to those who received traditional individual care. The more than 1,000 women in the study were placed in groups of 8 to 12 women at the same gestational point in their pregnancy, and were cared for by a clinician and a medical assistant. The study found that the higher the number of group visits attended, the lower the rates of adverse birth outcomes….             http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151221193406.htm

Citation

Mothers-to-be, babies benefit from group prenatal care, study finds

Date:       December 21, 2015

Source:   Yale University

Summary:

Group prenatal care can substantially improve health outcomes for both mothers and their infants, a new study has found. Women who received group — rather than individual — prenatal care were 33% less likely to have infants who were small for gestational age, had reduced risk for preterm delivery and low birthweight, and babies born to these women also spent fewer days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jeannette R. Ickovics, Valerie Earnshaw, Jessica B. Lewis, Trace S. Kershaw, Urania Magriples, Emily Stasko, Sharon Schindler Rising, Andrea Cassells, Shayna Cunningham, Peter Bernstein, Jonathan N. Tobin. Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of Group Prenatal Care: Perinatal Outcomes Among Adolescents in New York City Health Centers. American Journal of Public Health, 2015; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302960

Here is the press release from Yale:

Mothers-to-be and babies benefit from group prenatal care, study finds

December 21, 2015

Group prenatal care can substantially improve health outcomes for both mothers and their infants, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

The paper published online Dec. 21 in The American Journal of Public Health.

Women who received group—rather than individual—prenatal care were 33% less likely to have infants who were small for gestational age. In addition, group-care recipients had reduced risk for preterm delivery and low birthweight. Babies born to these women also spent fewer days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Additionally, mothers with more group prenatal care visits were less likely to become pregnant again quickly after giving birth, an important outcome known as “birth spacing” that reduces the risk of having another baby at risk for preterm delivery.

“Few clinical interventions have had an impact on birth outcomes,” said Professor Jeannette R. Ickovics, the study’s lead author. “Group prenatal care is related to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, without adding risk. If scaled nationally, group prenatal care could lead to significant improvements in birth outcomes, health disparities, and healthcare costs,” she added.

The research team conducted a randomized controlled trial in 14 health centers in New York City, and compared the birth outcomes of women who received CenteringPregnancy Plus group prenatal care to those who received traditional individual care. The more than 1,000 women in the study were placed in groups of eight to 12 women of the same gestational age, and were cared for by a clinician and a medical assistant. The study found that the higher the number of group visits attended, the lower the rates of adverse birth outcomes.

CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care includes the same components as individual visits, but all care (with the exception of matters that require privacy) take place in the group setting. Group visits build in additional time for education, skill building, and the opportunity to discuss and learn from the experience of peers, as well as more face time with caregivers.

Despite the opportunity for frequent visits, many mothers in at-risk groups, such as adolescents or those from low-income areas, still experience a high rate of negative birth outcomes. The study focused on adolescent women, ages 14 to 21, in disadvantaged areas, with no other known health risks to their pregnancies.

Going forward, researchers need to identify the reasons why group sessions yielded better outcomes, whether it is the additional time for education, the built-in social support, or other factors.

Additional studies are also needed to understand what influences patients to stick to group care session schedules, and to analyze cost-effectiveness. Future studies could also reveal whether the positive results from this study indicate that the group care model could be broadened to include other types of patients. Ickovics and colleagues are currently working with the United Health Foundation, UnitedHealth Innovation Group, and collaborators at Vanderbilt University and the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University to address many of these issues and to identify factors that could impact efforts to scale up and sustainability with a new model of group prenatal care, called Expect With Me.

Other Yale School of Public Health study authors include Valerie Earnshaw, Jessica Lewis, Trace Kershaw, Emily Stasko and Shayna Cunningham; and Urania Magriples of the Yale School of Medicine. Other co-authors included Sharon Schindler of Rising from the Centering Healthcare Institute in Boston, Jonathan Tobin and Andrea Cassells from the Clinical Directors Network in New York, and Peter Bernstein from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.                                                                   http://publichealth.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=11746

The program is called “Expect With Me.”

United Health Foundation describes the program:

Expect With Me

Yale School of Public Health and United Health Foundation have partnered to develop a new model of prenatal care designed to improve mothers’ and babies’ health and well-being during pregnancy, birth and infancy.  Prenatal care is delivered to pregnant women in a group setting, providing valuable education, skills, social and emotional support.

While expecting mothers typically spend 10-20 minutes with their doctors at each visit in traditional prenatal care, Expect With Me features 10 two-hour care sessions during the second and third trimesters. Each care session includes a physical assessment by a health care provider, and a focused group discussion session.

Expect With Me also includes a secure web portal and social networking features that enable expectant mothers to stay connected between care sessions and have access to a strong support network. Incentives, gaming and videos help patients engage, follow care recommendations and promote better health for both mothers and babies.

“Our goal in piloting this new prenatal care model is to improve the health of mothers and babies, and to improve perinatal health outcomes and reduce incidences of low birth weight and preterm birth.”

—Kate Rubin, United Health Foundation president.                                                                                                 http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/Initiatives/HealthCommunities/ExpectWithMe.aspx

The key is regular prenatal care.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports in What is prenatal care and why is it important?

Prenatal Care

Women who suspect they may be pregnant should schedule a visit to their health care provider to begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits to a health care provider include a physical exam, weight checks, and providing a urine sample. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, health care providers may also do blood tests and imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams. These visits also include discussions about the mother’s health, the infant’s health, and any questions about the pregnancy.

Preconception and prenatal care can help prevent complications and inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy. With regular prenatal care women can:

  • Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Following a healthy, safe diet; getting regular exercise as advised by a health care provider; and avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances such as lead and radiation can help reduce the risk for problems during pregnancy and ensure the infant’s health and development. Controlling existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is important to avoid serious complications in pregnancy such as preeclampsia.
  • Reduce the infant’s risk for complications. Tobacco smoke and alcohol use during pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alcohol use also increases the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause a variety of problems such as abnormal facial features, having a small head, poor coordination, poor memory, intellectual disability, and problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones.2 According to one recent study supported by the NIH, these and other long-term problems can occur even with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.3

In addition, taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily reduces the risk for neural tube defects by 70%.4 Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid as well as other vitamins that pregnant women and their developing fetus need.1,5 Folic acid has been added to foods like cereals, breads, pasta, and other grain-based foods. Although a related form (called folate) is present in orange juice and leafy, green vegetables (such as kale and spinach), folate is not absorbed as well as folic acid.

  • Help ensure the medications women take are safe. Certain medications, including some acne treatments6 and dietary and herbal supplements,7 are not safe to take during pregnancy.

Learn more about prenatal and preconception care.

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/prenatal-care.aspx

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Dr. Wilda Reviews: AAPD and UW ‘Dental Home Day’

25 May

Moi was very pleased to be invited to Dental Home Day which was held at the University of Washington Center for Pediatric Dentistry in conjunction with Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (HSHC), and the foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). She would like to acknowledge Erika J. Hoeft, AAPD Public Relations, Dr.Beverly Largent, President of the AAPD Foundation, Paul Amundsen, MNA, CFRE of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children and Steve Steinberg, UW School of Dentistry Director of Communications. They were extremely informative and gracious in answering moi’s questions.

Readers may ask, what is the purpose of Dental Home Day. According to the HSHC site:

Sponsored by Sunstar Americas, Inc., Dental Home Day is our annual service day held in conjunction with the AAPD Annual Session. In partnership with a clinic or dental school in the AAPD host city, AAPD members from across the country volunteer and HSHC provides grants covering the cost of the event and ongoing dental care for participating children. Dental Home Day applications are by invitation only. http://www.healthysmileshealthychildren.org/

Since the AAPD Annual Meeting was in Seattle, they partnered with the UW Dental School. A shout out to San Antonio, the AAPD 69th Annual Session will be held May 26-29, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Since referrals to Dental Home Day are limited, children who may qualify should be referred early. http://www.aapd.org/join/benefits/

Readers may ask why children need a pediatric dentist and why is dental care so important for children. According to the AARP:

The statistics are alarming. The rate of tooth decay in primary (baby) teeth of children aged 2 to 5 years increased nearly 17 percent from 1988-1994 to 1999-
2004. Based on the most recent data, 28 percent of children aged 2 to 5 years in the entire U.S. population are affected by tooth decay. 19 By the age of 3, 5 percent
to 10 percent of U.S. children have oral health issues. 19 By age 5, about 60 percent of U.S. children will have had caries at some point, including the 40 percent of children who have it when they enter kindergarten. 4,20

The issue is not just that kids have caries—it’s that, for many kids, caries is not being treated and is turning into more serious problems….http://www.aapd.org/assets/1/7/State_of_Little_Teeth_Final.pdf

See, Frequently Asked Questions http://www.aapd.org/resources/frequently_asked_questions/#37
A pediatric dentist tends to the special needs of children.

One group who may be more comfortable with a pediatric dentist are those with special needs:

The AAPD defines special health care needs as “any physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional impairment or limiting condition that requires medical management, health care intervention, and/or use of specialized services or programs. The condition may be congenital, developmental, or acquired through disease, trauma, or environmental cause and may impose limitations in performing daily self-maintenance activities or substantial limitations in a major life activity. Health care for individuals with special needs requires specialized knowledge acquired by additional training, as well as increased awareness and attention, adaptation, and accommodative measures beyond what are considered routine…”3
http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_SHCN.pdf

It was emphasized that pediatric dentists want to see children smile because the children are not only healthier, but feel more confident.

The UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry hosted Dental Home Day. Here is the press release:

May 14, 2015

Dental Home Day kicks off year of care for 150 local children
About 150 Seattle-area children will receive a year’s fully subsidized dental care as part of Dental Home Day, an event on May 20 conducted by the University of Washington Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (HSHC), the Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

Dental Home Day, which takes place in conjunction with AAPD’s annual session, calls attention to the importance of giving every child a “dental home” – a continuing relationship with a dentist that addresses oral health in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family-centered way. The AAPD convenes in Seattle this year from May 21 to May 24.

Dental Home Day, which is sponsored by Sunstar Americas Inc., will take place at The Center for Pediatric Dentistry in Seattle’s Magnuson Park. The Center, a clinical partnership between the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital, opened in 2010, thanks to a $5 million founding gift from Delta Dental of Washington and the Washington Dental Service Foundation. Its mission is to provide not only a high standard of pediatric dentistry but also to conduct research and identify best practices in children’s oral health.

“We’re delighted to be hosting this event to provide care for dozens of children who have limited access to dental services,” said Dr. Rebecca Slayton, director of the University of Washington Center for Pediatric Dentistry. “Dental Home Day is an extension of our goal of making dental care as accessible as possible for all children, especially those who have the greatest need.”

The participating children – who have already been selected – will receive not only checkups, cleanings and restorative work as time permits on May 20, but follow-up care for a year thereafter. The care will be funded by $30,000 in grants from HSHC. Children received invitations to Dental Home Day through schools, social service agencies, pediatricians and other referral sources. The Center’s dental faculty and dental residents will be joined for the day by about 60 volunteer AAPD member dentists who will consult with the local dentists and guide patients through the clinic.

“This is the third year of our collaboration with Sunstar on Dental Home Day, and the UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry has pulled out all the stops,” said Dr. Beverly Largent, the HSHC president and a pediatric dentist from Paducah, Ky., who will be a Dental Home Day volunteer. “Not only do we anticipate this year’s Dental Home Day to be the largest turnout yet, but our grant to The Center will help support ongoing care for the next year.”
In addition to dental treatment, the young patients will enjoy some entertaining diversions on May 20. Appearances are scheduled by Seattle professional sports mascots including Mariners Moose and the Seahawks’ Blitz, plus Captain Amerigroup and Dr. Health E. Hound of United Healthcare. There will also be games, prizes, story time and a photo booth.

“This will be a lot of fun for the children, but there’s a very serious message behind Dental Home Day,” said Dr. Joel Berg, dean of the UW School of Dentistry and AAPD past president. “One of the most important things we can do with events like this is to spread awareness of the toll that dental disease takes on children. Caries, or tooth decay, is the most common childhood disease, and what’s truly frustrating is that most of it is preventable.”

Dr. Berg added: “We want to let people know that with early treatment, prevention and good dental habits, most children can have a lifetime of great dental health. And establishing a dental home is a key part of that.” http://thecenterforpediatricdentistry.com/dental-home-day-kicks-off-year-of-care-for-150-local-children/

Moi’s observation was the day was well organized and ran smoothly. There are a couple of key observations moi would make about what is a civil and civilized society.
Moi will frame this review with three quotes:

1. “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.”
~Cardinal Roger Mahony, In a 1998 letter, Creating a Culture of Life

2. Luke 12:48 For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.

3. The Boy and the Starfish
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,”I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,
“I made a huge difference to that one!”
~Author Unknown~

150 children were cared for during Dental Home Day. This figure represents a small percentage of the children who need help. The pediatric dentists who give their time and treasure to support the AAPD Foundation came to their profession from many paths and circumstances, but they now represent the privileged in America. They are given the privilege of leadership, of course much is expected. People in helping professions may not be able to help everyone, but they can do their best to make a difference to those whose lives they touch. There are some very hard questions for any society, particularly one with the resources of a country like the U.S., about how the society treats its weakest and smallest members. Dental Home Day is like the little boy and the starfish, not every child is helped, but it makes a huge difference to those who are chosen. See, Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children Partners With 22 Organizations And Commits More Than $1.1 Million in Grants To Underserved Childrenhttp://www.aapd.org/healthy_smiles_healthy_children_partners_with_22_organizations_and_commits_more_than_11_million_in_grants_to_underserved_children/

Dr. Wilda gives a thumbs up to Dental Home Day. A shout out to San Antonio in 2016 to begin getting the word out to poor children in need of dental care.

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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University of Illinois report: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children

12 Apr

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of lifelong learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reported in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.
Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor emerita at Lesley University and an author of several books; Diane E. Levin, professor of early childhood education at Wheelock College; and Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, founding teacher at the Mission Hill School in Roxbury, Ma., as well as the director of the Defending the Early Years coalition and founder of Empowered by Play wrote a provocative Washington Post article. In, How ed policy is hurting early childhood education, Carlsson-Paige, Levin, Bywater McLauglin opine:

1. Current standards are not based on knowledge of child development — both how children learn and what they learn.
The standards require that children learn specific facts and skills — such as naming the letters — at specified ages. This has led to more teacher-directed “lessons,” less play-based activity and curriculum, and more rote teaching and learning as children try to learn what is required.
Yet decades of research and theory tell us that young children learn best through active learning experiences within a meaningful context. Children develop at individual rates, learn in unique ways, and come from a wide variety of cultural and language backgrounds. It is not possible to teach skills in isolation or to mandate what any young child will understand at any particular time.

2. Current policies support an over-emphasis on testing and assessment at the expense of all other aspects of early childhood education.
Already strapped for time and money, schools turn valuable attention and resources toward preparing teachers to administer and score tests and assessments rather than meet the needs of the whole child. As teachers strive to raise test scores, they increasingly depend on scripted curricula designed to teach what is on the tests. We know, however, that children learn best when skilled and responsive teachers observe them closely and provide curriculum tailored to meet each child’s needs. Standardized tests of any type do not have a place in early childhood education, and should not be used for making decisions about young children or their programs. Individualized assessments of each child’s abilities, interests and needs provide teachers with the information they require to individualize teaching and learning.

3. Cumulatively, current policies are promoting a de-professionalization of teachers.
The growing focus on standards and testing disregards the strong knowledge base early childhood teachers have. It undermines teachers’ ability to teach using their professional expertise, to provide the optimal, individualized learning opportunities they know how to offer. Instead, teachers are often required to follow prescribed curricula taught in lock step to all children. At the same time, more teachers without strong backgrounds in early childhood education are being hired, increasing the dependence of teachers on standardized tests and scripted curricula.

As one of their first initiatives, Defending the Early Years (DEY) is conducting a national survey of early childhood professionals — teachers, child care workers, program and school directors — on the ways their work is currently affected by federal, state, and local policies, such as standards for learning and mandated tests. Responses are anonymous. The data are being collected and tabulated by an independent opinion research firm. The results of this research will be used to inform the efforts of the DEY group to advocate for more child-centered, humane, and effective policies in the education and care of young children. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-ed-policy-is-hurting-early-childhood-education/2012/05/24/gJQAm0jZoU_blog.html

The Defending the Early Years group has a blog http://deyproject.org/

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported in Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children:

The debate about appropriate curriculum for young children generally centers on two options: free play and basic activities vs. straight academics (which is what many kindergartens across the country have adopted, often reducing or eliminating time for play).

A new report, “Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children,” offers a new way to look at what is appropriate in early childhood education.
The report was written by Lilian G. Katz, professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is on the staff of the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting. She is past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the first president of the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children. Katz is currently the editor of the online peer-reviewed trilingual early childhood journal Early Childhood Research & Practice, and she is the author of more than 100 publications about early childhood education, teacher education, child development and the parenting of young children.

In her report, published by the nonprofit group Defending the Early Years, Katz says that beyond free play and academics, “another major component of education – (indeed for all age groups) must be to provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.” As the title of the paper indicates, Katz makes a distinction between academic goals for young children and intellectual goals…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/12/report-debunks-earlier-is-better-academic-instruction-for-young-children/

Here is the blog post from Defending the Early Years regarding their report, Lively Minds:

Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children
Posted on April 9, 2015

In the wake of the Common Core academic push down on America’s kindergartners, a new report by Lilian G. Katz argues that excessive and early formal instruction can be damaging to our youngest children in the long term. Today, Defending the Early Years is proud to release Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children.

Author Lillian G. Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois, argues that the common sense notion that “earlier is better” is not supported by longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models. Furthermore, her report maintains that a narrow academic curriculum does not recognize the innate inquisitiveness of young children and ultimately fails to address the way they learn.
“Young children enter the classroom with lively minds–with innate intellectual dispositions toward making sense of their own experience, toward reasoning, predicting, analyzing, questioning and learning,” says Dr. Katz.

“But in our attempt to quantify and verify children’s learning, we impose premature formal instruction on kids at the expense of cultivating their true intellectual capabilities – and ultimately their optimal learning.”

While the report concludes that an appropriate curriculum for young children is one that focuses on supporting children’s in-born intellectual dispositions, some basic academic instruction in early years is needed. “Academic skills become necessary for students to understand and report on their own authentic investigations,” explains Katz. “These skills can then serve as a means to the greater end of fostering and advancing children’s intellectual capabilities.”

Watch and share this video about this new report!
Download and read the full report here: Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children
Help us spread the word about the importance of intellectual pursuits for young children using social media!
Consider tweeting:
#CCSS replaces wonder with worksheets, investigation with memorization. Preserve the lively minds of children! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e53S8dnh0IM
Premature academic instruction comes at a cost for youngest students @dey_project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e53S8dnh0IM #2much2soon
Earlier is not better. The lively minds of children are dulled by mindless bubble filling @dey_project #2much2soon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e53S8dnh0IM
We are rethinking academic vs. intellectual goals. Earlier is not always better. @dey_project #2much2soon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e53S8dnh0IM http://deyproject.org/

Our goals should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©
Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs that foster intellectual development is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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

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Ohio State University study: Narcissist parents create narcissist children

16 Mar

Chris Weller examined two studies dealing the “participation trophy” culture.
Weller opined in the Newsweek article, Two Words That Could Hurt Your Kids: Nice Job:

The most controversial topics in professional sports may be doping and concussions, but in youth sports, no two words are more inflammatory than “participation trophy,” those “awards” given to kids just for showing up, regardless of how well they played…

But a new trio of studies from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Ohio State University suggest that this strategy can backfire. They also suggest that parents often dole out inflated praise to the children most likely to be hurt by it. “If you tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to do incredibly well,” Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the studies and a doctoral candidate at Utrecht University’s department of psychology, said in a statement. “They may worry about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges.”

Brummelman and his fellow researchers devised three experiments. The first found that children with low self-esteem typically receive twice as much inflated praise as children with high self-esteem. Inflated praise is the difference between “Job well done!” and “You did an incredibly good job!” That adverb, that small boost, can turn a minor success into an expectation that ends up crushing a kid who doesn’t believe in himself.

The second study enlisted the help of parents. The children completed 12 timed math exercises, which their parents then scored. Brummelman and his colleagues watched for any instance in which the parents administered inflated praise – a “You’re so incredible!” or a “Fantastic!” – or opted for a simple, “Good job” or “Nice work.” Correlating the kids’ scores with earlier assessments of self-esteem, the team found that children with lower self-esteem received more inflated praise.

Don’t start slagging supportive parents, though. Co-researcher Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State, says their logic is impeccable: Kids who feel bad about their abilities tend to have very negative responses to poor performance, so the observant parent intervenes with a few supportive words. Problem solved, right?
The team’s third study took the praise administered in the second study and extended it to future performance. Children were asked to recreate van Gogh’s Wild Roses (to the best of their ability) and were told the final drawing would be critiqued by a professional painter. The critic either gave the children inflated praise, noninflated praise, or no praise at all. Then they did a second drawing. This time they had a choice: Would they rather copy an easy drawing or take on a more difficult piece?

To the chagrin of participation-trophy-pushing parents in the group, the children with lower self-esteems chose the undemanding piece. They took the safe route. The high self-esteem kids were actually more likely to seek out the challenge after receiving inflated praise….
“It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful,” Bushman said. “But it really isn’t helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves.” http://www.newsweek.com/two-words-could-hurt-your-kids-nice-job-225389#.UshBxlkCHTc.twitter

An Ohio State University study reaffirmed these studies.

Science Daily reported in How parents may help create their own little narcissists:

Children whose parents think they’re God’s gift to the world do tend to outshine their peers — in narcissism.

In a study that aimed to find the origins of narcissism, researchers surveyed parents and their children four times over one-and-a-half years to see if they could identify which factors led children to have inflated views of themselves.

Results showed that parents who “overvalued” their children when the study began ended up with children who scored higher on tests of narcissism later on.

Overvalued children were described by their parents in surveys as “more special than other children” and as kids who “deserve something extra in life,” for example.

“Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others. That may not be good for them or for society,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

Bushman conducted the study with lead author Eddie Brummelman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The study appears in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….

While the dangers of narcissism are well known, its origins are not, according to Bushman. This is the first prospective study to see how narcissism develops over time.

The study involved 565 children in the Netherlands who were 7 to 11 years old when the study began, and their parents. They completed surveys four times, each six months apart. All the surveys used in the study are well established in psychology research….

Citation:

How parents may help create their own little narcissists
Date: March 9, 2015
Source: Ohio State University
Summary:
Children whose parents think they’re God’s gift to the world do tend to outshine their peers — in narcissism. Results showed that parents who “overvalued” their children when the study began ended up with children who scored higher on tests of narcissism later on. Overvalued children were described by their parents in surveys as “more special than other children” and as kids who “deserve something extra in life,” for example.

Origins of narcissism in children
1. Eddie Brummelmana,b,1,
2. Sander Thomaesb,c,
3. Stefanie A. Nelemansd,
4. Bram Orobio de Castrob,
5. Geertjan Overbeeka, and
6. Brad J. Bushmane,f
Author Affiliations
1. Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved February 12, 2015 (received for review November 7, 2014)
1. Abstract
2. Authors & Info
3. SI
4. Metrics
5. Related Content
6. PDF
7. PDF + SI

Significance

Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently. Unfortunately, little is known about the origins of narcissism. Such knowledge is important for designing interventions to curtail narcissistic development. We demonstrate that narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others. In contrast, high self-esteem in children is cultivated by parental warmth: parents expressing affection and appreciation toward their child. These findings show that narcissism is partly rooted in early socialization experiences, and suggest that parent-training interventions can help curtail narcissistic development and reduce its costs for society.

Abstract

Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age.
• childhood narcissism
• childhood self-esteem
• parental overvaluation
• parental warmth
• socialization
Footnotes
• 1To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: e.brummelman@uva.nl.
• Author contributions: E.B., S.T., B.O.d.C., and G.O. designed research; E.B. performed research; E.B. and S.A.N. analyzed data; and E.B., S.T., S.A.N., B.O.d.C., G.O., and B.J.B. wrote the paper.
• The authors declare no conflict of interest.
• This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
• This article contains supporting information online at http://www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1420870112/-/DCSupplemental.

Stephanie Pappas wrote in the Livescience article, 10 Scientific Tips For Raising Happy Kids:

1. Last But Not Least, Know Your Kids

Everyone thinks they know the best way to raise a child. But it turns out that parenting is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, kids whose parents tailor their parenting style to the child’s personality have half the anxiety and depression of their peers with more rigid parents, according to a study published in August 2011 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. It turns out that some kids, especially those with trouble regulating their emotions, might need a little extra help from Mom or Dad…

2. Don’t Aim For Perfection
Nobody’s perfect, so don’t torture yourself with an impossibly high bar for parenting success. According to a study published in 2011 in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, new parents who believe society expects perfection from them are more stressed and less confident in their parenting skills….
3. Don’t Sweat a Little Sassing
Teens who talk back to their parents may be exasperating, but their argumentativeness is linked to a stronger rejection of peer pressure outside the home. In other words, autonomy at home fosters autonomy among friends….
4. Mamas, Be Good to Your Sons
A close relationship with their mothers can help keep boys from acting out, according to a 2010 study. A warm, attached relationship with mom seems important in preventing behavior problems in sons, even more so than in girls, the research found. The findings, published in the journal Child Development, highlight the need for “secure attachment” between kids and their parents, a style in which kids can go to mom and dad as a comforting “secure base” before venturing into the wider world….
5. Tend to Your Mental Health
If you suspect you might be depressed, get help — for your own sake and your child’s. Research suggests that depressed moms struggle with parenting and even show muted responses to their babies’ cries compared with healthy moms. Depressed moms with negative parenting styles may also contribute to their children’s stress, according to 2011 research finding that kids raised by these mothers are more easily stressed out by the preschool years….
6. Nurture Your Marriage
If you’re a parent with a significant other, don’t let your relationship with your spouse or partner fall by the wayside when baby is born. Parents who suffer from marital instability, such as contemplating divorce, may set their infants up for sleep troubles in toddlerhood, according to research published in May 2011 in the journal Child Development. The study found that a troubled marriage when a baby is 9 months old contributes to trouble sleeping when the child is 18 months of age….
7. Let Go
When the kids fly the nest, research suggests it’s best to let them go. College freshmen with hovering, interfering “helicopter” parents are more likely to be anxious, self-conscious and less open to new experiences than their counterparts with more relaxed moms and dads….
8. Foster Self-Compassion
Parental guilt is its own industry, but avoid the undertow! Research suggests that self-compassion is a very important life skill, helping people stay resilient in the face of challenges. Self-compassion is made up of mindfulness, the ability to manage thoughts and emotions without being carried away or repressing them, common humanity, or empathy with the suffering of others, and self-kindness, a recognition of your own suffering and a commitment to solving the problem….
9. Be Positive
Parents who express negative emotions toward their infants or handle them roughly are likely to find themselves with aggressive kindergartners. That’s bad news, because behavioral aggression at age 5 is linked to aggression later in life, even toward future romantic partners…
10. LOL! Joking Helps
Lighten up! Joking with your toddler helps set them up for social success, according to research presented at the Economic and Social Research Councils’ Festival of Social Science 2011…. http://www.livescience.com/17894-10-scientific-parenting-tips.html

Moi agrees with Pappas’ suggestions with one huge addition the role of fathers. Dr. Gail Gross wrote in The Important Role of Dad:

Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children; they are are capable caretakers and disciplinarians.

Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.

How fathers influence our relationships.

Your child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of your child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships…forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.
Girls will look for men who hold the patterns of good old dad, for after all, they know how “to do that.” Therefore, if father was kind, loving, and gentle, they will reach for those characteristics in men. Girls will look for, in others, what they have experienced and become familiar with in childhood. Because they’ve gotten used to those familial and historic behavioral patterns, they think that they can handle them in relationships.

Boys on the other hand, will model themselves after their fathers. They will look for their father’s approval in everything they do, and copy those behaviors that they recognize as both successful and familiar. Thus, if dad was abusive, controlling, and dominating, those will be the patterns that their sons will imitate and emulate. However, if father is loving, kind, supportive, and protective, boys will want to be that…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-gail-gross/the-important-role-of-dad_b_5489093.html

Our goal as a society should be healthy children raised by healthy families.

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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study: Stress felt by children shows up in their art

9 Dec

Both the culture and the economy are experiencing turmoil. For some communities, the unsettled environment is a new phenomenon, for other communities, children have been stressed for generations. According to the article, Understanding Depression which was posted at the Kids Health site:

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds.
As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8. http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/understanding_depression.html

Jyoti Madhusoodanan and Nature magazine reported in the Scientific American article, Stress Alters Children’s Genomes:

Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed. Telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes from fraying over time, are shorter in children from poor and unstable homes than in children from more nurturing families…
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stress-alters-childrens-genomes/?WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

Not only are the child’s gene’s altered, but there are behavioral indications of the stress being felt by the child.

Will Huntsberry of NPR wrote in the article, Kids’ Drawings Speak Volumes About Home:

When children reach 6 years old, their drawings matter.

Not because of those purple unicorns or pinstripe dragons but because of how kids sketch themselves and the very real people in their lives.

In a new study, researchers found that children who experienced chaos at home — including high levels of noise, excessive crowding, clutter and lack of structure — were more likely to draw themselves at a distance from their parents or much smaller in size relative to other figures.

In some cases, these kids drew themselves with drooping arms and indifferent or sad faces.

Their drawings were a reflection of this simple fact: Chaos at home meant parents were interacting with them less and, in many cases, the interactions that were happening were shorter and interrupted.

As a result, kids ended up with a depreciated sense of self, says Roger Mills-Koonce, who led the study with Bharathi Zvara at UNC-Chapel Hill. To be clear, Mills-Koonce did not blame parents or caretakers but called this kind of stress in the home a “function of poverty….”                                                                                                                                http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/12/08/368693069/kids-drawings-speak-volumes-about-home

Citation:

The Mediating Role of Parenting in the Associations Between Household Chaos and Children’s Representations of Family Dysfunction

Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors

2014

From the abstract: “Children’s drawings are thought to reflect their mental representations of self and their interpersonal relations within families. Household chaos is believed to disrupt key proximal processes related to optimal development. The present study examines the mediating role of parenting behaviors in the relations between two measures of household chaos, instability and disorganization, and how they may be evidenced in children’s representations of family dysfunction as derived from their drawings. The sample (N = 962) is from a longitudinal study of rural poverty exploring the ways in which child, family, and contextual factors shape development over time. Findings reveal that, after controlling for numerous factors including child and primary caregiver covariates, there were significant indirect effects from cumulative family disorganization, but not cumulative family instability, on children’s representation of family dysfunction through parenting behaviors. Results suggest that the proximal effects of daily disorganization outweigh the effects of periodic instability overtime.”

Related Project(s):

Children Living in Rural Poverty: The Continuation of the Family Life Project
Family Life Project

Available here: Attachment & Human Development

Or, you may utilize your local academic library to locate this copyrighted material.

Citation: Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors. (2014). The mediating role of parenting in the associations between household chaos and children’s representations of family dysfunction. Attachment & Human Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

http://fpg.unc.edu/resources/mediating-role-parenting-associations-between-household-chaos-and-childrens-representation

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

Related:

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/

Resources:

  1. About.Com’s Depression In Young Children                                                          http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm
  2. Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children                                                      http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm
  3. Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=106034
  4. Family Doctor’s What Is Depression?                                                                               http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/depression.html
  5. WebMD’s Depression In Children                                                                                     http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children
  6. Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?                                                                                   http://www.healthline.com/hlvideo-5min/how-to-help-your-child-through-depression-517095449
  7. Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children http://www.onhealth.com/depression_in_children/article.htm

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

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Brookings study: Father’s education level influences the life chances of their children

7 Dec

Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children; after all, you and your child should not be raising each other.

Eric Schulzke of Deseret News reported in the article, Like father like child: why your future may be closely tied to your father’s income and education:

A child’s odds of breaking out of poverty or gaining a college education are heavily shaped by the father’s income and education level, says Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution.

In a couple of graphs that unpack piles of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics at the University of Michigan, Reeves breaks education and income levels down into quintiles and shows the close connection between a father’s level and how far his children go.

Whether you see that as a glass half empty or glass half full depend on your starting point, Reeves acknowledges. “If you assume that in an ideal world, where you would end up would bear no relation to where you started.” That is, he argues, if we had real equality of opportunity, 20 percent of every group would end up in the other four groups in the next generation.

Instead, 41 percent of kids whose father had top-level educational achievement stay there, and 36 percent of those who start in the bottom income bracket will remain there.

There is some mobility, of course. Of those who start in the bottom fifth of income levels, 35 percent end up in the middle class or above, which is roughly equal to the 36 percent who stay put….                                                                                                                                                           http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865616732/Like-father-like-child-why-your-future-may-be-closely-tied-to-your-fathers-income-and-education.html?pg=all

See, Children with married parents are better off — but marriage isn’t the reason why     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/08/children-with-married-parents-are-better-off-but-marriage-isnt-the-reason-why/

Here is the relevant portion from The Inheritance of Education by Richard V. Reeves and Joanna Venator:

Educated Dad = Educated Kid

The two matrices look pretty similar – no surprise, given that income and education are tightly correlated. But in one respect there appears to be less mobility in terms of education: the replication of top-quintile status. Almost half (46%) the children of top-quintile parents ended up in the top education quintile themselves, and three in four (76%) stayed in one of the top two quintiles. The equivalent measures of ‘stickiness’ at the top for income are 41% and 65%.

This finding echoes research showing large, and possibly growing, gaps in educational attainment by social and economic background. The trend towards assortative mating – like marrying like – will likely strengthen the intergenerational transmission of high educational status. Of course education is one of main factors behind intergenerational income persistence, but it also troubling in its own right. The ethical demand for equality of opportunity in terms of education is even greater than for income. If a high level of education is effectively inherited, the ideal of meritocracy will move even further from our reach….                                                                    http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2014/10/27-intergenerational-education-mobility-reeves

This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me first” philosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of “Katrina,” the real genocide is self-inflicted.

So, a behavior that statistically is more damaging than consuming sugary drinks is never condemned. The child born to a single poor mother is usually condemned to follow her into a life of poverty. Yet, the same rigor of dissuasion is not applied to young impressionable women who are becoming single mothers in large numbers as is applied to regular Coke or Pepsi addicts. Personal choice is involved, some of the snarky could categorize the personal choice as moronic in both cases. Government intervention is seen as the antidote in the case of sugary drinks, but not single motherhood. Why? Because we like to pick the morons we want government to control. The fact of the matter is that government control is just as bad in the case of sugary drinks as it would be in regulating a individual’s reproductive choice. The folks like Mayor Bloomberg who want government to control some behavior really don’t want to confront the difficult, for them, political choice of promoting individual personal values and responsibility. It is much easier to legislate a illusory solution. So, the ruling elite will continue to focus on obesity, which is a major health issue, while a disaster bigger than “Katrina” and “Sandy “ sweeps across the country with disastrous results.

Related:

Hard times are disrupting families

https://drwilda.com/2011/12/11/hard-times-are-disrupting-families/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

3rd world America: Money changes everything

https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

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Northwestern University study: Heavier babies do better in school

27 Oct

The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services explains why healthy babies are important. “Healthy babies are more likely to develop into healthy children, and healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy teenagers and healthy adults.” http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/earlychildhood/health/index.aspx

The New York Times reported in the article, Heavier Babies Do Better in School:
A study of children in Florida found that those who were heavier at birth scored higher on math and reading tests in the third to eighth grades.
Like so many other parts of health care, childbirth has become a more medically intense experience over the last two decades. The use of drugs to induce labor has become far more common, as have cesarean sections. Today, about half of all births in this country are hastened either by drugs or surgery, double the share in 1990.
Crucial to the change has been a widely held belief that once fetuses pass a certain set of thresholds — often 39 weeks of gestation and five and a half pounds in weight — they’re as healthy as they can get. More time in the womb doesn’t do them much good, according to this thinking. For parents and doctors, meanwhile, scheduling a birth, rather than waiting for its random arrival, is clearly more convenient.
But a huge new set of data, based on every child born in Florida over an 11-year span, is calling into question some of the most basic assumptions of our medicalized approach to childbirth. The results also play into a larger issue: the growing sense among many doctors and other experts that Americans would actually be healthier if our health care system were sometimes less aggressive.
The new data suggest that the thresholds to maximize a child’s health seem to be higher, which means that many fetuses might benefit by staying longer in the womb, where they typically add at least a quarter-pound per week. Seven-pound babies appear to be healthier than six-pound babies — and to fare better in school as they age. The same goes for eight-pound babies compared with seven-pound babies, and nine-pound babies compared with eight-pound babies. Weight, of course, may partly be an indicator of broader fetal health, but it seems to be a meaningful one: The chunkier the baby, the better it does on average, all the way up to almost 10 pounds.
“Birth weight matters, and it matters for everyone,” says David N. Figlio, a Northwestern University professor and co-author of the study, which will soon be published in the American Economic Review, one of the field’s top journals… http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/upshot/heavier-babies-do-better-in-school.html?abt=0002&abg=0&_r=0

Citation:

The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children’s Cognitive Development (WP-13-08)
IPR-WP-13-08
David Figlio, Jonathan Guryan, Krzysztof Karbownik, and Jeffrey Roth
This working paper makes use of a new data resource—merged birth and school records for all children born in Florida from 1992 to 2002—to study the effects of birth weight on cognitive development from kindergarten through schooling. Using twin fixed effects models, the researchers find that the effects of birth weight on cognitive development are essentially constant through the school career, that these effects are very similar across a wide range of family backgrounds, and that they are invariant to measures of school quality. They conclude that the effects of poor neonatal health on adult outcomes are therefore set very early.
David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics, and Director and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Jonathan Guryan, Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Krzysztof Karbownik, Visiting Scholar, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Jeffrey Roth, Research Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Florida
Download working paper PDF http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/docs/workingpapers/2013/IPR-WP-13-08.pdf

Other articles have questioned whether heavier babies are healthier:

Bigger Baby Trend Worries Doctors As Health Concerns Mount Over Supersized Deliveries http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/bigger-baby-trend_n_3780699.html

Everyday Research blog analyzes the study in Heavier babies do better in school:
Questions
a) How do we know this is a correlational study? What are its variables?
b) Here’s a quote from the article:
Mr. Figlio estimates that, all else equal, a 10-pound baby will score an average of 80 points higher on the 1,600-point SAT than a six-pound baby. Another way to see the pattern is to look only at top-scoring students: Among the top 5 percent of test scorers in elementary school, one in three weighed at least eight pounds at birth, compared with only one in four of all babies.
Does this quote address statistical validity? Construct validity? External validity? or Internal validity?
c) Here’s a great addition. Underneath the main figure in the article, are tables of results for education, race, and age. The caption reads:
The effect of being heavier is similar across many different types of mothers.
Is this caption addressing potential moderators? potential mediators? or potential third variable problems?
d) Here’s another quote from the piece:
Florida offers a window on the issue because the state tracks children from birth through college…. The authors of the new study….used the data to compare birth weight with test scores from third through eighth grades, as well as with kindergarten readiness scores. They controlled for, among other factors, the health and sex of the baby, the length of the pregnancy and the health, age, race and education of the mother
Looking at the last sentence of this quote, is this statement addressing potential moderators? potential mediators? or potential third variable problems?
http://www.everydayresearchmethods.com/2014/10/heavier-babies-do-better-in-school.html

The question many parents ask is what is a healthy weight range.

The What to Expect article, Your Newborn’s Weight: What’s Normal, What’s Not discusses healthy weight:

So just what is average for a newborn? At birth, the average baby weighs about 7.5 pounds — though the range of normal is between 5.5 and ten pounds (all but five percent of newborns will fall into this range).
What makes your baby weigh more or less than the newborn in the next bassinet? Several factors come into play:
• Your own diet and weight, both before and during pregnancy (If you’re overweight, you may have a heavier baby. If you don’t get enough nutrients while you’re pregnant, your baby may be smaller.)
• Your prenatal health, including whether you drink, smoke, or have diabetes
• Your own birth weight, plus genetics (your size at birth, plus your and your hubby’s size now, can both play a role)
• Whether your baby is a boy or a girl (boys tend to be heavier)
• Whether this is your firstborn (they tend to be smaller than subsequent children)
• Whether your baby is a twin or triplet (multiples tend to be smaller than singletons)
• Your baby’s race (Caucasian babies are sometimes larger than African-American, Asian, or Native American infants)… http://www.whattoexpect.com/baby-growth/newborn-weight.aspx

The key is regular prenatal care.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports in What is prenatal care and why is it important?

Prenatal Care
Women who suspect they may be pregnant should schedule a visit to their health care provider to begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits to a health care provider include a physical exam, weight checks, and providing a urine sample. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, health care providers may also do blood tests and imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams. These visits also include discussions about the mother’s health, the infant’s health, and any questions about the pregnancy.
Preconception and prenatal care can help prevent complications and inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy. With regular prenatal care women can:
• Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Following a healthy, safe diet; getting regular exercise as advised by a health care provider; and avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances such as lead and radiation can help reduce the risk for problems during pregnancy and ensure the infant’s health and development. Controlling existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is important to avoid serious complications in pregnancy such as preeclampsia.
• Reduce the infant’s risk for complications. Tobacco smoke and alcohol use during pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alcohol use also increases the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause a variety of problems such as abnormal facial features, having a small head, poor coordination, poor memory, intellectual disability, and problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones.2 According to one recent study supported by the NIH, these and other long-term problems can occur even with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.3

In addition, taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily reduces the risk for neural tube defects by 70%.4 Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid as well as other vitamins that pregnant women and their developing fetus need.1,5 Folic acid has been added to foods like cereals, breads, pasta, and other grain-based foods. Although a related form (called folate) is present in orange juice and leafy, green vegetables (such as kale and spinach), folate is not absorbed as well as folic acid.
• Help ensure the medications women take are safe. Certain medications, including some acne treatments6 and dietary and herbal supplements,7 are not safe to take during pregnancy.
Learn more about prenatal and preconception care. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/Pages/default.aspx
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/prenatal-care.aspx

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

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