Physically Active Kids Appear To Do Better In Class

A systematic review of published data reported in the January issue of theArchives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine finds there may be a positive link between physical activity and academic performance of children in school: the ones who are more physically active seem to do better in class. However, the authors are cautious about the certainty of this finding because too few of the studies they reviewed were of sufficiently high quality. They call for further research using more robust measures of physical activity. Lead author Dr Amika Singh, of Amsterdam's Vrije Universiteit (VU) University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues carried out their review because of concerns that pressure to do well in academic tests could mean children are being denied time for exercise in favour of extra tuition time. For their review they searched a number of reputable academic databases for studies that looked at the relationship between physical activity and academic performance and found 10 observational (that follow participants over a period of time), and four interventional studies that met their inclusion criteria. For example, to be included in the review, the studies had to measure exposure to at least 1 measure of physical activity or fitness and assess the outcome of at least 1 academic performance or cognition measure, during childhood or adolescence. 12 of the studies included in the review were carried out in the US, one was in Canada, and one in South Africa. The studies varied widely in size, from around 50 to around 12,000 participants, with ages ranging from 6 to 18 years and follow-up from as little as 8 weeks...

Two Thirds Of New Mothers Have Trouble Breast Feeding

A survey published in the journalPediatrics shows that two third of mothers nursing new-borns are unable to manage breast feeding, for as long as they intended. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics take the view that around six months of breast feeding is a target bench mark, meaning only breast milk and medications or micronutrient supplements, but no other liquids or solids. Surveys have shown that few mothers achieve this goal in the US, but it was not specifically known whether this was by accident or design. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey of pregnant women about their intentions for exclusive breast-feeding and published their results under the title:"Baby-Friendly Hospital Practices and Meeting Exclusive Breastfeeding Intention." They discovered that although 85% of mothers planned to breast feed for at least three months, less than a third managed to meet their own goal. Those who already had a baby and were married seem to have better chances. Breast feeding within an hour of birth was also seen as an important factor in developing the mother-baby breast feeding regime. On the flip side, those who were obese, were smokers or set themselves longer goals for breast feeding, stood less chance of achieving their target. In addition, the report shows that when hospitals give out infant formula and or pacifiers, the mothers chances are reduced, presumably because she more easily turns towards the alternatives. The study suggests that increasing "Baby-Friendly Hospital Practices", particularly by supporting mothers to breast feed exclusively while in hospital, will assist more mothers in meeting their goals. Previous research has shown...

Kids Need To Use More Sunscreen

A study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that most pre-adolescent children do not regularly use sunscreen, and worse, many suffer from sunburn at some point during their childhood. Figures show that people having suffered a major sunburn incident in their childhood are at double the risk of developing a melanoma later in life, so protecting children from too much sun is something parents and carers should pay more attention to. The study, which is entitled "Prospective Study of Sunburn and Sun Behavior Patterns During Adolescence," looked at 360 children in the Massachusetts area and found that at least 50% of them experienced sun burn before their 11th birthday. They followed up with the participants three years later and found rates of sunburn still alarmingly high; and as children grew into their teens fewer reported using sunscreen, most thought they spent more time in the sun, than as children. At the conclusion of the study, only 25% of children used sunscreen routinely and half the children who reported using sunscreen at the beginning of the study no longer used it three years later. Stephen Dusza, lead author and a research epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "At the same time, there was a significant reduction in reported sunscreen use." Less is known about the activities of teenagers, but many, especially girls like to begin tanning - ideas are needed to promote sun protection at the beaches, after-school sites, as well as at sporting and other outdoor events. Dusza plans to extend the study of the children into their late teens and gather more data about behaviors and fashions in regards to sun exposure....

Asthma Risk In Kids Lowered By Having Pets

According to a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and presented by the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, children who live with dogs may have less of a risk of developing asthma. The researchers state that dust found in households with dogs may protect against the infection associated with a respiratory virus which has been linked to asthma in kids. Kei Fujimura, one of the authors of the study commented: "In this study we found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs present protected them against a childhood airway infectious agent, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV infection is common in infants and can manifest as mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Severe infection in infancy is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma." During the trial, Fujimura and her team analyzed 3 different types of animals: Mice that were fed dust from houses with dogs before they were infected with RSV Mice that were infected with RSV without exposure to dust Mice in a control group that were not infected with RSV Fujumura commented: "Mice fed dust did not exhibit symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production. The also possessed a distinct gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to animals not fed dust." She explained that in the past, owning pets, especially dogs, had been linked to lower rates of asthma in kids. Fujimura and her team set out to show that the microbiome, or a collection of bacterial clusters found in homes with pets, such as cats or dogs, is extremely different than the...

Genetic Screening During Pregnancy Shows Promise

According to a study published inScience Translational Medicine, researchers at the University of Washington have successfully reconstructed the whole genome sequence of a human fetus by analyzing blood samples from the mother and saliva samples from the father. The researchers findings open up the possibility of assessing a fetus non-invasively for all single-gene disorders. Approximately 1% of newborns are born with disorders that are caused by a defect in a single gene. These "Mendelian" disorders include cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and Tay-Sachs disease. In the future, the new non-invasive technique could help screen for these types of genetic mutations in the fetus without increasing the risk of miscarriage, said Jay Shendure and his team at the University of Washington. Shendure explained: "This work opens up the possibility that we will be able to scan the whole genome of the fetus for more than 3,000 single-gene disorders through a single, non-invasive test." At 18.5 weeks gestation, the researchers were able to map the whole genome of a fetus and then reconstructed it using DNA from the mother's blood plasma and saliva from the father. Although fetal DNA is found in the mother's blood plasma, it can be challenging to distinguish which genetic signature belongs to the fetus and which belongs to the mother. As a result the team used a new technique in order to identify blocks of haplotypes (genetic variation), that could be traced back to the mother's genome. The researchers were then able to use this information, together with data from the father's saliva sample, to determine which genomes the fetus inherited. The team then conducted a more intensive examination...
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