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Family Issues

Information regarding families and parenting

Suicide and safety issues

Suicides among young people are a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of youth commit suicide.  In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and a major cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. More information and resources click...

Smoking during Pregnancy

Exposure to Tobacco During Pregnancy Affects Behavior in Newborns (The Nemours Foundation) According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 12% of women who gave birth during 1999 smoked during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and other dangerous substances to the fetus and increases the risk of stillbirth, birth defects, low birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and cancer. Maternal smoking has also been shown to affect the developing nervous system of the fetus. Researchers from Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, examined the effects of maternal smoking on a newborn’s body functions and behavior. Shortly after delivery in the hospital, the mothers of 56 full-term infants answered questions about their use of cigarettes during pregnancy and provided saliva samples to confirm their smoking or nonsmoking status. The mothers who smoked reported the number of cigarettes they smoked in a typical day of each trimester of pregnancy. Within 48 hours after birth, all of the infants underwent examinations of neurological and behavioral function, including tests for reflexes, central nervous system function, and visual function. In general, the infants who were exposed to tobacco were more excitable, had greater muscle tension, and showed other symptoms similar to infants going through drug withdrawal. Babies who had been exposed to tobacco needed to be picked up and touched more, and also showed more signs of physical stress in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and visual system. The more cigarettes per day a mother smoked, the greater the effects on the newborn’s body functions and behavior. What This Mean to You: Smoking during...

To snoop or not to snoop in a child’s bedroom?

Sunday Patriot-News Front Page Story December 19, 1999 (Harrisburg, PA)– Parents must weigh issues of trust, curiosity, concern before searching, experts say. “Trust has everything to do with your child’s success and safety.” says Dr. Chris Petersen, a psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine at the Hershey Medical Center.  “If you initiate damage of the trust by intruding into their life without reason, then that is a mistake.  If they’ve earned the trust and respect because of a level of responsibility, that should be respected, he says.   WARNING SIGNS Dr. Chris Petersen, a psychiatrist at Hershey Medical Center, cites these symptoms of teen depression: •Social withdrawal: A desire to remain isolated or restricted to a narrow peer group for weeks or months. •Isolation from peer group: Diminishing time and interaction with a previously close group of friends. •Symptoms of depression: ‘Irritability, anger and sadness, as well as boredom in situations they would not normally consider boring. •Deteriorating grades and work habits. •Frequent fighting, becoming abusive. • Maintaining poor personal hygiene. • Abusing alcohol or drugs. •Changing sleep habits and appetite. PARENTING ADVICE •The National, Parenting Center at www.tnpc.com. RECOMMENDED READING From George Schmidt, psychologist with the East Pennsboro Area School District. Both are by Anthony Wolf: •”Get Out of My Life … but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the Mall- Parent’s Guide to the Teenager.” • “It’s Not fair, Jeremy Spencer’s Parents Let Him Stay Up All...

Orphanages are an ‘option’

Posted 12/18/2009 1:09 AMBy Wendy Koch, USA TODAY“Children who live in orphanages fare as well or better than those in family homes, reports a Duke University study that tracked more than 3,000 children in five Asian and African countries. The study is touted as one of the most comprehensive ever done on orphans. Orphaned and abandoned children ages 6-12 were evaluated over a three-year period in 83 institutions and 311 families in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Tanzania. Those in institutions had significantly better health scores, lower prevalence of recent sickness and fewer emotional problems.“ The findings were reported in USA...

Study: Mom’s nurturing can stimulate intelligence

July 19, 2000 Web posted at: 9:16 AM EDT (1316 GMT) (AP) — Be grateful for the times Mom cooed over you and rocked you to sleep. All of that fussing, it appears, may have made you smarter. Experiments on rats by Canadian researchers suggest that mothers’ nurturing stimulates neural connections in their babies’ brains and enhances learning. Those offspring subsequently scored higher in intelligence and memory tests. The researchers said the results, which appear in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience, are broadly applicable to humans, too. “It’s never nature vs. nurture. The influences are inseparable,” said Michael Meaney, a neuroendocrinologist at McGill University who led the study. “Activity of the genes is always influenced by the environment. And the most important feature of the environment for an infant is mother.” Other researchers described the findings as impressive. “The stimulation provided by these mothers is certainly a large part of what causes the brain to develop more extensively,” said neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen of Rockefeller University in New York City. However, some scientists cautioned against comparing rat and humans mothers too closely, or attributing infants’ intelligence to relatively small differences in parenting styles. “I don’t want to put any more pressure on mothers,” said Rebecca Burwell, a psychologist at Brown University. “The rat mothers showed differences in skills, but they all were in the normal range. So it doesn’t really speak to parental abuse. Some individuals may be very sensitive to subtle variations in parenting.” In the experiment, the McGill team divided 32 female rats into two groups. One group provided a high level of care to their offspring,...

Millions of U.S. students home alone

October 31, 2000 Web posted at: 2:58 p.m. EST (1958 GMT) WASHINGTON — Call it a scare that working parents could do without this Halloween — 2.4 million children under the age of 12 are home alone before or after school, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census bureau. The report says 7 million 5-to-14-year-olds of working parents are left to care for themselves an average of six hours a week. Thirteen percent of them are home alone for 10 hours a week, according to the report. The statistics, based on 1995 statistics, show the majority, 65 percent, are middle-schoolers, ages 12-14; the rest are grade school-age. Megan, age 9, and her sister, Sarah, age 11, are among them. After they come home from school, they told CNN’s Holly Firfer, they grab a snack, do some homework and watch TV. “Some things we can do and some things we can’t, ” the girls said. “But usually, we can do anything we want.” It’s not a situation they or their mom, who asked that their full names not be used, prefer. “I wish I didn’t have to do it,” their mom says, “I wish I really had a job that I was home by 3 o’clock. And I know they would like that, too, but they understand it. It’s not in the cards right now.” The amount of time children are left alone concerns not only parents, but child advocates and researchers alike. “It very well may be they are taking care of themselves during the after school hours from 3 to 6,” Kristin Smith, Census Bureau...

Early Childhood and TV Viewing

Heavy TV Viewing Causes Problems Oct 1, 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – “CONSISTENT, FREQUENT TV VIEWING CAUSES BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS“ In summary: “Consistent, heavy television viewing (more than two hours a day) throughout early childhood can cause behavior, sleep and attention problems. In the new study, “Children’s Television Exposure and Behavioral and Social Outcomes at 5.5 Years: Does Timing of Exposure Matter?” researchers assessed data from the Healthy Steps for Young Children national evaluation effort pertaining to the effects of early, concurrent and sustained television exposure at age 2.5 years, and again at age 5.5 years. The effects of having a television in the child’s bedroom were measured at age 5.5. Sixteen percent of parents reported that their child watched television more than two hours a day at age 2.5 years only (early exposure), 15 percent reported that their children watched more than two hours of television daily at 5.5 years only (concurrent exposure), and 20 percent reported more than two hours of television viewing daily at both times (sustained exposure). Forty-one percent of children had a television in their bedroom at age 5.5. Sustained television viewing was associated with sleep, attention and aggressive behavior problems, and externalizing of problem behaviors. Concurrent television exposure was associated with fewer social skills. Having a television in the bedroom was associated with sleep problems and less emotional reactivity at age 5.5. Early exposure to television for more than two hours a day, which decreased over time, did not cause behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no television viewing for children under age 2, and no more...

Survey: Parental misconceptions about discipline

SURVEY REVEALS CHILD DEVELOPMENT KNOWLEDGE GAP AMONG ADULTS Need More Information about Discipline, Spoiling and Expectations of Young Children WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 4 – Results of a landmark survey released today raise questions about what Americans know about raising emotionally, intellectually and socially healthy children. “This lack of accurate child development information among adults has very real implications for American society,” said Kyle Pruett, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center, and president of ZERO TO THREE. “We’re potentially raising overly aggressive children who react to situations with intimidation and bullying, instead of cooperation and understanding; children who won’t be able to tolerate frustration, wait their turn or respect the needs of others.” “What Grown-Ups Understand About Child Development: A National Benchmark Survey” measured the child development knowledge of 3,000 adults and parents. Secondarily, it examined what the general public thinks about selected policies that impact children and families. The survey was sponsored by CIVITAS, ZERO TO THREE and BRIO Corporation, three organizations dedicated to the welfare of young children, and conducted by DYG, Inc., a nationally respected research company led by Daniel Yankelovich. “The results of the survey overwhelmingly indicate that adults need more and better information, delivered in more accessible ways,” said Suzanne Muchin, chief executive officer of CIVITAS, a not-for-profit communications group that commissioned the survey. The survey results show that specific areas of misinformation among adults include spoiling and spanking; adults’ expectations of young children at different ages; and the most beneficial forms of play. Parents Misunderstand: Babies Can’t Be Spoiled Parents are confused – and grandparents even more so...

Mental Care Poor for Some Children in State Custody

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 By ROBERT PEAR  The New York Times Thousands of parents have given up custody of their children under pressure from states in order to obtain treatment for the children’s severe mental illnesses, federal investigators say, but some states have not lived up to their end of the deal. Federal officials said they had found deplorable conditions in many state institutions where children were supposed to receive treatment. For example, investigators from the civil rights division of the Justice Department recently found “significant and wide-ranging deficiencies in patient care” at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, Calif., near Los Angeles. The hospital provides patients ages 11 to 17 with “woefully inadequate” treatment and unnecessary medications, exposing them “to a significant risk of harm and to actual harm,” the department said. Nora A. Romero, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Mental Health, said the state disagreed with some of the findings but was taking steps to improve care. The Justice Department also said children with mental disorders had been subjected to “unhealthy, inhumane and unlawful” conditions at two state training schools in Mississippi. Federal officials said children with mental disorders were not even supposed to be at the schools, Columbia and Oakley. The Mississippi Department of Human Services said it would work with the state’s Department of Mental Health to provide “alternative placement” for children found to be mentally ill at the schools. In a survey of state and local officials, the General Accounting Office (news – web sites), an investigative arm of Congress, found that parents had placed more than 12,700 children in the child welfare or...

Danger Zones for Children’s Injuries

Mon Jun 2, 1:37 PM ET  Reuters CHICAGO (Reuters) – The most common injuries children suffer vary by age almost month by month, with the most dangerous time coming at 15 to 17 months, according to a U.S. study published on Monday. The University of California report, based on a review of more than 23,000 childhood injuries, 636 of them fatal, from 1996 to 1998, was designed to alert parents and doctors to the most common hazards at any given point. During the first year of life, the study found that unspecified falls were the main source of injury before 3 months, battering by parents or caregivers at 3 to 5 months, falls from furniture at 6 to 8 months, swallowing foreign objects at 9 to 11 months and hot liquid or hot vapors at 12 to 17 months. In general, the overall injury rate for all causes, everything from fires to ingestion of drugs, rapidly increased with age starting at 3 to 5 months and peaked at 15 to 17 months, said the study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This coincides with developmental achievements such as independent mobility, exploratory behavior and hand-to-mouth activity,” the report said. “The child is able to access hazards but has not yet developed cognitive hazard awareness and avoidance skills.” The study, which tracked statistics up until age 4, found that the most common cause of injury after 3 came from moving vehicles hitting children on foot. Across all ages medication poisoning was the single highest cause of injury, peaking at from 18 through...

Single Mom’s Hostility Can Cause Problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children living with single mothers are at greater risk for social, academic and psychiatric problems than their peers who live in two-parent families. But according to Canadian researchers, factors such as family income, a mother’s depression or a hostile parenting style–not single status by itself–accounts for at least part of this risk. “The results suggest that children from single-mother families develop difficulties for the same reasons as children from two-parent families,” conclude Dr. Ellen L. Lipman from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues. High levels of stress associated with low family income can undermine attempts to provide supportive and consistent parenting. Likewise, depressed mothers may be emotionally unavailable to their children, which can lead to low self-esteem and social problems. These problems, which can occur in any family, are more likely to occur in single-mother families, the researchers explain. Their study is published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The researchers reviewed information on more than 9,000 children aged 6 to 11 who took part in a national youth survey in Canada. Children living with single mothers were found to be at greater risk of developing a number of problems than their peers living with two parents, including low math scores and psychiatric difficulties. Higher household income decreased the risk of social and psychiatric problems, however, and was associated with higher math scores. A higher level of maternal education was also linked with higher math scores and fewer psychiatric problems while maternal depression and, in particular, hostile parenting were closely tied to the...
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