Scientists have discovered that the way parents talk to their infants has a huge effect on their intellectual development and later success. Experts discuss why and how parents should hold “conversations” with their babies.
Dr. Anne Fernald, Associate Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
Dr. Kimberly Noble, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University
Drug and alcohol addiction and abuse is rising. Researchers have found that “fear mongering” educational efforts to combat it in adolescents doesn’t work. New science has discovered that certain personality types are predictably predisposed to addiction risk, and that educational efforts can be targeted to them effectively. Experts discuss.
Dr. Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, Assistant Professor of Psychoeducation, University of Montreal
Maia Szalavitz, author, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
Schools would be a good place for programs to screen for mental health issues in students, and to educate about mental health to lessen the pervasive stigma. Some states are making programs mandatory, but elsewhere schools and personnel may resist, seeing mental health as outside the normal role of teachers. Experts discuss how inventive programs are overcoming obstacles.
Dr. Kimberly Kendziora, Managing Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Dr. Michael Murphy, psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of about 25 percent… and even when a patient has a lasting remission, the disease almost always relapses. But a new study in the journal Nature Communications finds that the disease appears to be the fault of a single gene, which they’ve located. Researchers say the gene rewires the body’s entire set of blood-forming cells and tissues. They hope the breakthrough could eventually lead to a gene-targeted therapy and improve survival rates.
Scientists have discovered some of the reasons why people with obesity have a higher risk of asthma. A study in the Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology shows that inflammation in airways is greater in people with obesity. Those with obesity are also more likely to over-respond to allergens in airway muscles…causing the airways to narrow. Researchers say the discoveries may improve asthma treatment.
Teachers often contribute to a diagnosis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder in children… but a new study concludes they may be mistaking immaturity for ADHD. The study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry shows that it’s most often the youngest kids in a classroom who are diagnosed with ADHD. Experts also say that in children who are diagnosed… it appears that some parts of the brain mature up to three years later than in kids who are not labeled.
And finally… one good way to get the vitamins you need in the future may be to chew some gum. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that gum loaded with vitamins delivers enough of them to significantly raise levels in the blood. Both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins were effectively delivered in gum… and researchers say most people think it’s a pleasant way to get nutrition.
Due to the spike in school shootings over the last few years, people are becoming more concerned with the safety of students, teachers, and other individual’s on school campuses. Many schools have started taking cautionary measures by preparing students and teachers with the knowledge on how to remain safe in these incidents. In fact, more than 70% of schools conduct active shooter drills. However, there has not been a consensus on how to most effectively perform these drills, and some schools may be taking them a little too far.
In some cases, schools announce the drills, but sometimes they do not. Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California, explains that even if the drill is announced it can still be a stressful experience for students or teachers with traumatic past experiences. And, in realistic drills in which students and teachers are not aware, Dr. Schonfeld states that it can cause post-traumatic reaction, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Active shooter education and drills are important for students and teachers to experience, but they must be taught at a speed that the students can handle and in a supportive environment.
How can schools be more effective in their execution of lockdown drills? Dr. Schonfeld discourages schools from using deception in their drills. He suggests that the most beneficial way to inform students and teachers is to begin with education courses on what to do in the event of a lockdown. Then, he believes that it is helpful to conduct a tabletop activity in which an adult talks about how they would deal with the situation, and help the students to make a plan, before eventually acting out the plan. Through these activities, students are able to acquire the knowledge they need to remain safe in these situations without having to endure a potentially traumatic experience.
Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California
On average, the secondary school day begins at 8 a.m, which can make for some groggy students. Most parents will complain that their teen likes to stay up late and sleep in, but there is actually a scientific explanation behind that tendency. The hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep, behaves differently during the teenage years, meaning that a teen’s sleep schedule is about two hours behind the rest of the world. According to Dr, Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, Rand Corp. and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, it’s a lot like having continuou jet lag for a few years. Dr.Terra Ziporyn Snider, Executive Director and co-founder of Start School Later, says that most teens get the bulk of their REM sleep between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., which is also the time they are being woken up for school.
Dr. Snider says that even though it might seem that the problem is teens staying up late on their phones, that in the end the problem is really the early start time for school, because it forces the student into an unhealthy sleep pattern. says Dr. Ziporyn Snider. Dr. Troxel also points to thirty years of research that shows that later start times help students succeed.
So, if later start times are scientifically shown to be better, why hasn’t the public school system adopted them? According to Dr. Snider, it comes down to school politics and backlash from parents. Communities who have considered pushing back start times receive parent complaints about how the schedule affects after-school activities and before and after school care, how families who also have elementary school students have to change their routines, and even about the different traffic patterns later in the day. All of these concerns become reasons for schools to keep things as they are. In contrast, however, school administrators who have committed to the change say they will never go back, because the students show up more, and perform better.
Dr. Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, Rand Corp. and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Terra Zipporyn Snider, Executive Director and co-founder, Start School Later organization
Women who’ve suffered a miscarriage and are trying to get pregnant again might want to think about taking a daily baby aspirin. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism tested women who had lost a previous pregnancy and scored high for inflammation in the body. Researchers found that those who took a daily low dose aspirin were 31 percent more likely to become pregnant than women who took a placebo and 35 percent more likely to carry the baby to term. However, researchers say it’s too early to recommend aspirin to prevent pregnancy loss.
Statistics show that obese girls don’t do as well in school as their thinner counterparts. But a new study in the journal Sociology of Education finds that at least part of the difference may be due to discrimination on the part of their teachers. Researchers say even when they score the same on ability tests, obese white girls receive worse grades than their thinner peers.
And finally here’s one more thing to put on the list of things to never eat—snow. And it doesn’t matter what color the snow is. A study in the journal Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts finds that snow is remarkably efficient at absorbing particulate air pollution that you find in car exhaust. It’s like a sponge. So catching snowflakes with your tongue may not be as pure as we thought.