Reversing fetal alcohol damage after birth: Study offers hope, from “Science Daily”

Two commonly used drugs erased the learning and memory deficits caused by fetal alcohol exposure when the drugs were given after birth, thus potentially identifying a treatment for the disorder, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The scientists also newly identified a key molecular mechanism by which alcohol neurologically and developmentally harms the developing fetus.

“We’ve shown you can interfere after the damage from alcohol is done. That’s huge,” said lead investigator and senior author Eva Redei. “We have identified a potential treatment for alcohol spectrum disorder. Currently, there is none.”

Redei is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the David Lawrence Stein Research Professor of Psychiatric Diseases Affecting Children and Adolescents.

The Northwestern study was in rat pups, and the scientists are trying to raise funds for a clinical trial.

In the United States, 1 to 5 percent of children are born with the disorder, which includes learning and memory deficits, major behavioral problems, a high rate of depression, low IQ, cardiovascular and other developmental health problems.

If the drugs are effective in the clinical trial, the infants whose mothers consumed alcohol during their pregnancy potentially could be treated with them, Redei said.

The paper will be published in Molecular Psychiatry July 18.

“There are women who drink before they are aware that they are pregnant and women who do not stop drinking during their pregnancy,” Redei said. “These women still can help their children’s future, if the current findings work in humans as well. The ideal, of course, is that women abstain from drinking when pregnant, but unfortunately that does not always happen.”

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170718084532.htm

 

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

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“This is impossible,” Emily, the mother of three boys, exclaimed. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to give my kids more technology or less.” Emily felt paralyzed because she was caught between digital-age parenting advice and what her heart told her was right.

Online articles claimed that children need freedom with gadgets, but she knew a number of teens who spent their lives on their phones, spurned their families, and suffered from emotional problems. Emily was also dubious of promises that devices are the key to kids’ success, as she knew more than a few game-obsessed 20-somethings who still lived with their parents and showed no signs of being productive.

The Surprising Science of Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

In meeting with parents like Emily, I acknowledge the confusion about what is good parenting in the digital age. For guidance, I suggest looking to the science of raising healthy children. What it’s revealing is extraordinary: that even amid the trappings of our tech-obsessed culture, children’sconnections to family and school are still the most important factors in their lives. In other words, it’s time we get back to the basics.

There are other elements of raising healthy children, including engaging kids in creative and outdoor play, and showing them what it means to be a good friend. We also need to teach kids self-control and how to use technology productively. Yet, children are better able to acquire these abilities if they have strong connections with family and school. Children learn the value of nature when parents expose them to the outdoors. And kids acquire self-control, or grit, by persevering through challenging school assignments.

The Two Pillars of Childhood

Family is the most important element of children’s lives — even in this world of bits and bytes — because we are human first. We can’t ignore the science of attachment that shows our kids need lots of quality time with us. Such experiences shape children’s brains, and they foster our kids’ happiness and self-esteem, while diminishing the chances that they will develop behavior or drug problems.

Second in importance only to family is children’s involvement with school. Nevertheless, some question the value of traditional schooling, claiming that in the digital age kids learn best through exposure to the latest gadgets. But, according to the Pew Research Center, the value of a college education is actually increasing in recent decades, providing youth higher earning potential and significantly lowering their risks of unemployment or poverty. And how do colleges gauge admission? Not through high scores on video games or the number of social media friends, but instead by measuring kids’ understanding of the learning fundamentals taught in school, including the ability to read, write, and do math well.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

The Dunedin Study: TV Use/ Screen time and other “habits”: Effects on Kids in later years, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”

Every generation identifies “bad habits” in their children which they believe should be “discouraged” because of the negative effects they may cause later in life.  The Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which closely follows 1000 or so participants born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin New Zealand, has identified a number of these “habits” and then gone on to observe how far these do in fact effect people’s lives once they are adults.  The following is a summary of some of the study’s findings.

Cesarian Birth     No lasting effects.     Zero psychological significance.

article-2418967-1BC82B46000005DC-621_634x401Being left handed     No lasting effects… unless forced to write with right hand, which can cause frustration and therefore delay learning.

Bed wetting  No lasting effects.  Zero psychological significance, although other issues may be linked to this if it continues much after age 8 years.  Otherwise is a passing phase.

Age of Toilet Training   Not relevant to future psychological well-being, although other issues may be linked if toilet training has not occured by 5-6 years.

downloadThumb Sucking     A security/ self-nurturing response.  No other particular reason identified.  Usually a passing phase, few “thumb suckers” continue to do this into adulthood.  Has debatable impact on teeth… “if you don’t stop sucking your thumb, we’ll have to get braces on your teeth.”  Orthadontal need tends to be based on genetic predisposition to a particular jaw shape or “bucked teeth” going into adolescence, rather than being related to “thumb sucking”.

download (1)Amount of Sleep during Childhood     The Dunedin Study measured the amount of sleep per night  in participants when they were aged between 5 and 11 years old.  It was discovered that there was a direct correlation between the hours of sleep a child had at these ages and their body weight as an adult.  Those who had the least sleep as children tended to become the most over weight adults.  The reason for this is that sleep influences hormones which effect how hungry you become and when you feel full.  Toddlers who slept less also tended to have problems with cognitive functioning during adolescence and anxiety issues during their 20s.

13TV Watching/ Screen Time    The Dunedin Study also measured how many hours of TV children watched.  This also translates into general “screen time”.   This was the generation who began having personal computers and computer games in their home during the 1980s, when such brands as ZX81 and Commodore 64 became available and games such as “Pac Man” and “Space Invaders” were the rage.  Even those who did not have computers at home frequently had access to them via schools or to games in the “Video Arcades” which were popular in the 80s.  As well as this, the invention of VHS meant that hours spent JS44834649watching television increased dramatically… programmes could be taped and re-watched and the age of video rental shops had begun.  The results are dramatic.  The study showed that those who had more screen time were three times more likely to leave school early, regardless of their IQ or their family’s income.  This may also be because excessive screen time has been linked to self control, a majorly important component in predicting future life trajectory, (which we will examine in greater detail in a later article) and which is the case regardless of intelligence.c89c6ce15b18ce07443424fd290cb8f5

Conclusions drawn from this for those of us wishing to guide our children towards a more positive life trajectory?  1) Don’t be pushy about toilet training, most kids are toilet trained before they start school (boys tend to take a little longer than girls).  2)  Don’t make a big deal of bed wetting or thumb sucking.  3) Don’t force a child who is left handed to use their right hand.  4) Ensure your child has adequate sleep and investigate any obvious sleep issues early 5) Limit screen time… discussing and creating a “contract” with your child about this can be good and also encourages a degree of self-regulation.

“…the thing which is special about The Dunedin Study is that we have measured multiple aspects of human health and development, so we get a complete picture of people’s lives.” —-Professor Richie Poulton, study director.

The comprehensive nature of The Dunedin Longitudinal Study as well as the high rate of retention of participants (only 35% of participants still live in Dunedin, but 95% remain in the study and return regularly to participate), gives weight to the findings listed above, as well as strategies for reducing negative outcomes and increasing the chances of a positive life trajectory, through early intervention, for the children of today.

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Six things every parent should know about Pokémon Go, by Christian Gallen

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For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.

1. What is Pokémon Go?

You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!

2. How does it work?

Pokemon-Go-001-292x300The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.

This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theparentingplace.com/blogs/a-parents-guide-to-pokemon-go/

Early sexualisation and pornography exposure: the detrimental impacts on children, by Melinda Tankard Reist

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The school principal was perplexed.

I had just delivered a keynote on the impact of sexualisation and pornography exposure on children and young people at a conference of school leaders in NSW.

During the break she approached me, opened her phone and revealed an image created by a group of 5 year old boys, at the Catholic primary school she headed in Sydney. It showed two women, scantily dressed, in provocative poses.

The boys, along with fellow pupils, had been asked to prepare an in-class assignment using the pic collage app to make pictures. This is what the boys stood up and presented to the class.

One was so pleased with the work he inserted his face in between the woman’s bodies at breast height. These little boys didn’t think they’d done anything wrong.

This incident is just yet another outworking of the impact of a pornified world on our children.  Children being hurt. Children hurting others.

Everywhere I go I hear stories. Of children using sexual language. Children touching other children inappropriately. Children playing ‘sex games’ in the school yard. Children requesting sexual favours. Children showing other children porn on their devices. Children distressed by explicit images they came across while googling an innocent term. Children exposed to porn ‘pop ups’ on sites featuring their favourite cartoon characters or while playing online games.

Educators, child welfare groups, childcare workers, mental health bodies medicos and parents are reeling. All are struggling to deal with the proliferation of hyper-sexualised imagery and its impacts on the most vulnerable – children whose sexuality is still under construction, children for whom pornography becomes a template for sexual activity, a ‘how to’ manual for future use.

Porn before first kiss

Pornography exposure – for young men at least – is at saturation point. Research has shown some worrying trends related to earlier onset exposure.

According to some sources, the average first age of exposure to pornography is 11 years, with 100% of 15-year-old males and 80% of 15-year-old females reporting that they have been exposed to violent, degrading online pornography.

MTR BI2Children are seeing violent depictions of sex, torture, rape and incest porn. Boys are having their sexual arousal conditioned by depictions of extreme cruelty, seeing women being assaulted in every orifice by groups of men.  And all this before their first sexual experience – even their first kiss.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.childhoodtrauma.org.au/2016/july/melinda-tankard-reist

Crazy Crafternoons for Kids: Hosting an Arty Party, by Sarah Wilson

Some simple ideas for hosting a ‘Crazy Crafternoon for Kids’ or ‘Arty Party’, either for a birthday, a school holiday activity, or just because 🙂

artypartyforblog

Recently I was intrigued to come across the term ‘Crafternoon’. A ‘crafternoon‘ is a lazy, lovely way to spend an afternoon crafting with adults or with the kids. I’ve always believed that everyone has a creative bent in them. Wasn’t it Picasso who famously stated that every child is an artist?

For my daughter’s birthday this year, we decided to opt for an ‘Arty Party’ theme. Even if you consider yourself to be creatively challenged, an ‘Arty Party’ can be pulled off relatively easily. All you need is 2-4 semi-structured crafty activities and if you lack inspiration, look to none other than Pinterest for some crafting inspiration. While we usually have parties at home, this year we had my daughter’s party at ‘Gone Potty’, a ceramic paining franchise. This turned out to be a smart idea, as I think I might have ‘gone potty’ if I had hosted…

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Teens & Sleep – A Beautiful Union, But What’s Getting in the Way? by Karen Young

Teens-Sleep-A-Beautiful-Union-But-Whats-Getting-in-the-Way

Quality pillow time – blissful, uninterrupted and long enough – is vital for all of us. For teens and tweens, their brains are growing like never before and sleep is critical to power this process along. They all have it in them to set the world on fire, and they’ll find their own way to do that, but for that to happen, they need sleep. And plenty of it. So what are most of them doing before they they fall asleep that’s getting in the way?

Recent research from Brown University has found that the light from phones or tablets could be disrupting teens’ sleep by suppressing a key hormone that controls the timing of sleep.

Light exposure can delay the time that anyone falls asleep, but teens and tweens are particularly vulnerable. This extent of the vulnerability seems to depend on the stage of puberty they are at.

Children and adolescents aged 9 to 15 who are in the earlier stages of puberty seem to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of light before bed, compared to those 11 to 16 year olds who are further along the puberty path.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.heysigmund.com/teens-sleep-a-beautiful-union-but-whats-getting-in-the-way/

 

Facebook, Twitter and Google unite to Stop Spread of Child Abuse Images, By Jeff Parsons

MAIN-Child-Abuse

Three of technology’s biggest names have joined forces with a UK charity to try and block paedophiles spreading images online.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have united alongside a UK charity, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to try and stop the spread of child abuse images online.

The IWF is responsible for tracking indecent images of children online and allocating each one with a specific (“Hash”) code – allowing them to identify it.

It then compiles the codes into a so-called “Hash List” that keeps tabs on the horrific images.

Now the organisation has shared its Hash list with the biggest technology companies on the web.

It means that Facebook, Twitter and Google will be able to recognise these pictures and block them from being uploaded onto their services.

“Our Hash List could be a game-changer and really steps up the fight against child sexual abuse images online,” said Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF.

While explicit images can still be shared on the so-called “darknet”, preventing them from appearing on the likes of Google and Facebook is a step in the right direction.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/technology/facebook-twitter-google-unite-against-6226332?ICID=FB_mirror_main

Tech Savvy – Danger Ignorant: Kids and the Internet, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police

 

Girls on net Collage FY1

For  young  people,  the  internet  has  become  an  important  source  of entertainment  and  leisure,  a  means  to  communicate  and  form meaningful relationships with others, and a platform for creativity and self expression (www.netsafe.org.nz).

This being said, the internet is like a big city. It makes sense that mums and dads would never leave a child or young person to wander about on their own.  It would be easy to imagine them turning a corner and finding themselves in a street where they are not safe.

We can be tempted to throw up our hands and say, “They know everything there is to know about this stuff. It’s a waste of time even trying to learn.”

The thing to remember is that young people may be tech savvy, but they tend to be danger ignorant. They will jump into things and sometimes the results can be less than ideal.  It is helpful to think about internet education the same as you would when teaching a child to ride a bike. You start out in the backyard, moving to the driveway and then to the footpath. Then out onto the road, with you riding behind them. You get them a good helmet and some reflectorised things to go on their bike; you tell them about the rules and about your expectations.   You know that road safety is a serious business.  Hazards on the road become clearer when we jump on our own bike and ride with our kids.

There are many internet offences that young people can get caught up in. These  include  threats,  harassment,  blackmail,  fraud,  objectionable  content and grooming, all the way down to things like miscommunications that lead to anger, and then on to physical violence in our community.  If your child gets caught up, it is important that we keep our heads. We need to count to ten before we react. We want to be the adults they trust when they go looking for advice.

# Go to www.netsafe.org.nz.   If you are not confident with computers, you can print off a copy of the Staying Safe Online booklet. Netsafe is a one-stop shop for anything internet. You can find advice on a huge range of issues including the latest scams and what to do about them.

# Have a chat to your teen about what they are doing online and who they are talking to.

# Set your family rules early. In our family we do not allow computers, Ipods or other internet capable devices in the bedroom. We use them in a place where an adult can see and help if required.

# If you don’t understand it, try it. Take the time to improve your knowledge by actually using the services, tools and apps that your kids use.

# Each device needs its own content filter. Content filters are available for sites  such  as  YouTube,  available  as  apps  on  Ipods;  and  you  can  even purchase a modem that filters everything that comes into the home.

# Remember that a red label on your movie or game means it is restricted.There are penalties for letting underage kids or teens see or play. R13  R16 R18. In New Zealand the fine is up to $3,000 even when you are unaware of the rating.Have a look at the new booklet on the NetSafe site for ways to stay safe on Facebook, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Trade Me and Twitter. http://www.netsafe.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/Staying-Safe-Online-NZ.pdf 

Originally published in the Star newspaper, Dunedin NZ, 2014.  “The Forever Years” would like to thank John Somerfield for agreeing to republish here.