Entries in Behavioral Problems (9)


Loud, Persistent Snoring in Toddlers May Be Cause for Alarm

Hemera/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- Aside from being a nocturnal annoyance, a new study confirms snoring in young kids can have implications for their behavior later on.

Previous research has shown that poor sleep quality in children, including snoring, is linked to hyperactivity.  However, little is known about "how much" snoring is too much, and whether the behavioral effects last over time.

The link between snoring and effects on behavior may be related to hypoxia, or decreased oxygen delivery to the brain.  Snoring may be a sign that not enough air is going through a person's airway -- a situation many doctors believe occurs frequently with sleep-disruptive breathing disorders.  Less oxygen delivery to the brain can mean inflammation, and even changes in the brain tissue itself.

"Many preschool children snore for brief periods, [for example] when they have a cold," says Dean Beebe, a neuropsychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.  "But loud snoring that lasts for months or years is abnormal and may signal a sleep-related breathing problem that could affect a child's behaviors during the day."

Beebe and colleagues explored these issues in a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.  Their goal was to focus on younger children and "follow kids over time to get a sense of what happens when snoring persists," he says.

Researchers looked at 249 mother/child pairs at 2 and 3 years of age and asked parents how frequently they heard "loud snoring" coming from their child's bedroom.  Children were characterized as "non-snorers" if they snored less than once per week, "transient snorers" if they snored more than two times per week at age 2 or age 3, or "persistent snorers" if they snored more than two times per week both at age 2 and at age 3.

The same children were also assessed for behavioral problems -- including hyperactivity, aggression, depression and inattention -- based on a validated questionnaire known as the Behavior Assessment System for Children.

The results of this study demonstrated that the persistent snorers had significantly worse overall behavioral functioning at age 3, specifically in the areas of hyperactivity, depression and attention, compared to the transient snorers and the non-snorers.  In fact, 35 percent of persistent snorers were found to be at risk for behavioral problems.

Pediatric sleep specialists say they are enthused by the findings.

"In my opinion, this study is very important," states Dr. Frisca Yan-Go, a neurologist from UCLA, "because it gives data to support clinicians in emphasizing that habitual snoring is not normal at any age."

Yan-Go explains that if a sleep-related breathing disorder disrupts a child's sleep, "[It] definitely will affect the child's daytime function, including behavior, learning and development."

Sleep experts say parents who have kids who snore loudly and persistently should inform their pediatricians as soon as they can.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: BPA-Based Fillings May Change Kids' Behavior

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As if a visit to the dentist for some kids isn't traumatic enough, a new study finds that many who received fillings made from a widely-used, but controversial plastics chemical may suffer minimal yet long-term emotional problems.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, followed more than 500 children and found that children who got composite fillings made with the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, tended to experience behavioral differences over a five-year period.  The more BPA-based fillings a child had, the more likely he or she was to show these changes.

Children with other types of fillings, however, did not experience any differences.

Researchers are not sure if it's the BPA or something in the resin causing the problems and say further investigation is warranted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Your Child Be Spanked at School?

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It is one of the most controversial methods of child discipline, but spanking in school -- usually with a wooden or fiberglass paddle -- is still allowed by law in 19 states. The practice is most prevalent in the Midwest and South.

According to a report from the Juvenile Information Exchange, more than 28,500 students in Georgia were spanked in 2008, mostly in rural counties. The number is much smaller in Florida -- around 3,600 last year -- but that's where the issue is getting new attention.

For the second year in a row, a Florida lawmaker is trying to ban corporal punishment in schools there; last year the measure never made it to the floor for a full vote.

Opponents of the ban say spanking is matter of tradition and good old-fashioned discipline. But at least one Florida mom is suing to stop the practice. Tenika Jones says the principal at the Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Levy County paddled her 5-year-old so severely last April that he cried for hours, triggering an asthma attack, which in turn required a trip to the emergency room.

The boy was spanked for roughhousing with another student on a school bus. Jones said her son had welts on his buttocks, missed a week of school and still has nightmares about the incident.

"That's child abuse to me," the 32-year old told reporters, "If they don't want us to hit our kids, they shouldn't either." Principal Jaime Handlin declined to comment, citing the on-going legislation, but she did tell the Willston Pioneer newspaper that "nothing was violated."

She added, "I disciplined out of love, not anger."

Researchers have found that spanking can increase aggressiveness in children and can even hurt the mental development of young children.

"Corporal punishment doesn't get us the results we want," said Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that advocates against corporal punishment. "You can get the same result from an intervention – simply telling and teaching children to stop the behavior."

Sendek says the practice is not only ineffective, it can also teach children that hitting is acceptable. Sendek, who has worked with abused and neglected children for three decades, says children who are hit ultimately learn to avoid the punisher, not the behavior.

She cited a number of instances in which children were seriously injured and asked why so many American children are subject to this type of punishment.

"We're not allowed to hit a prisoner. We do not hit in the military," Sendek said, "Why do we give prisoners more protection than we give our schoolchildren?”

Even if parents do not agree with corporal punishment, there is little they can do to guarantee that their child will not be hit by an administrator if she or he misbehaves. Sendek says her group suggests that parents who want to opt out of that type of discipline should send a letter to the principal and school administrators at the beginning of each school year, and make sure that their concerns are put in the child's permanent record. She also recommends reviewing the school district's disciplinary policies and voicing any concerns at parent/teacher conferences or school board meetings before a child is ever hit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Cellphone Radiation Linked to Behavior Problems in Mice

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A new study could re-ignite the debate over the potentially dangerous effects of cellphone radiation on children's behavior.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine found that exposing pregnant mice to radiation from a cellphone affected the behavior of their offspring later.  They found that the mice exposed to radiation as fetuses were more hyperactive, had more anxiety and poorer memory -- symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- than mice who were not exposed to radiation.

Neurological tests revealed that the radiation exposure led to abnormal development of neurons in the part of the brain linked to ADHD, leading the authors to suggest that cellphone radiation exposure may play a role in the disorder.

"During critical windows in neurogenesis, the brain is susceptible to numerous environmental insults; common medically relevant exposures include ionizing radiation, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and stress," wrote the authors, led by Dr. Hugh Taylor, professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

They added that while their study provides "the first experimental evidence of neuropathology due to in-utero cellular telephone radiation," the data are not conclusive, and more research is needed to determine the effects of radiation on humans or non-human primates.

Dr. F. Sessions Cole, professor of pediatrics and chief of newborn medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that while the research is "provocative," the data are a long way from being applicable to humans.

"Mice are very different than humans," he said.  "The distance the phone was placed away from the mice in the study was between 4 and 20 centimeters, which is a very short distance compared to the distance from the ear to the womb in humans.  It's likely the dose of radiation the mice received is much greater than what a human fetus would receive."

Cole added that mice also have a much shorter gestation period, only 19 or 20 days, which can also mean a very different type of exposure than humans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Depression in Dads Linked to Emotional, Behavioral Problems in Kids

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Depression is known to run in families, but most of the research has focused on the influence of moms.  Now, a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests children of depressed dads are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems, such as feeling sad or acting out.

The study, based on a survey of nearly 22,000 children aged 5 to 17 and their parents, found that 11 percent of children whose fathers had symptoms of depression had emotional or behavioral problems, compared with only 6 percent of children whose parents had no depressive symptoms.

"What's even more remarkable than the results is the fact that this had never been looked at before," said study author Dr. Michael Weitzman, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center.  "I think fathers are underrecognized in terms of the impact they have in families and in children's lives.  It behooves us to try and devise clinical services that would identify fathers that are depressed and figure out ways to link them to services."

The rate of emotional or behavioral problems rose to 19 percent in children who had a mother with depressive symptoms, and 25 percent for children of two depressed parents.

While depression is known to have strong genetic roots, it is also thought to change how parents interact with their kids.

"The same things that make parents excited about their kids when they feel good can exacerbate their depression when they're unhappy," said Weitzman.  "One can only postulate that treating the parents could have a positive effect on their children."

Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and director of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, said the study affirms the role of both parents in children's well-being.

"This may be the first study in fathers, but it fits in with a lot of other studies," he said.  "It's nice to see we're getting away from just bashing moms."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prenatal Exposure to BPA Might Affect Children's Behavior Later

BananaStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A new study in this week's Pediatrics medical journal suggests that prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in many products, including food and beverage containers, is linked to behavioral and emotional problems in 3-year-old children.

Some environmental and child health experts say the findings support the argument that BPA is harmful to children's development, a position that has been under debate for the past several years.

In the study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, and several other institutions measured BPA levels in the urine of 244 women at different times during their pregnancies and in the urine of their children at one, two and three years of age.

They found BPA in more than 97 percent of the urine samples, and discovered an association between BPA exposure and subsequent behavioral problems.

"The results of this study suggest that gestational BPA exposure might be associated with anxious, depressive and hyperactive behaviors related to impaired behavioral regulation at three years of age," wrote the authors, led by Joe Braun, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

The effects were especially strong among girls.

Despite the findings, the authors urge caution in their interpretation.

"There is considerable debate regarding the toxicity of low-level BPA exposure, and the findings presented here warrant additional research," they wrote

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teens Who Sleep More Get into Less Trouble, Study Suggests

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Parents might hate it when their teens can't get out of bed -- particularly on a school day -- but a new study suggests they should be grateful for those extra Zs, because the more an adolescent sleeps, the less chance he or she has of getting into trouble.

The data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that teens who get fewer than eight hours of sleep are more inclined than their sleepier peers to drink alcohol, take drugs, get into fights and engage in sexual activity.

Furthermore, youngsters who are sleep-deprived are also more likely to use tobacco, sit around the house rather than exercise, and contemplate suicide.

About seven in 10 teens sleep fewer than eight hours a night, so the risk group is far bigger than high schoolers who get more shuteye.

The CDC also found that for some reason, teens who sleep more also tend to watch more TV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Breast-Fed Babies Have Fewer Behavioral Problems

George Doyle/Thinkstock(HELSINKI, FINLAND) -- A new study from Finland provides more evidence in favor of breast feeding.

Published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, this study says that breast milk is best for babies. 

Many studies have shown that breast feeding beats formula for infant development when it comes to growth, cognitive function and immune response.

Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health looked at more than 10,000 mothers and their children in the United Kingdom.

They found that babies who were breast-fed for at least four months are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems as 5-year-olds compared to infants who were fed formula.

The authors also note that breast feeding means more involvement between mother and child, leading to better learning of acceptable behaviors.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Study: Infants Who Cry a Lot Tend to Have Behavioral Problems in Childhood

John Foxx/Thinkstock(BASEL, Switzerland) -- Babies are supposed to cry.  After all, that's how they communicate.  Newborns cry to announce their arrival in the world.  They cry to let you know they are hungry, wet, tired or don't feel well.

But constant crying just might be a harbinger of problems later on.

Researchers in Switzerland reviewed 22 studies conducted over 20 years (1987-2006) on the link between problems with crying, sleeping and feeding during infancy and behavioral problems in childhood.

As expected, they found that young babies who cried a lot or had trouble sleeping or feeding were more likely to develop problems such as ADHD, anxiety, temper tantrums and depression in childhood.

Infants who had two or more of these issues ran an even higher risk of developing problems as children.

But just because a baby is a little fussy or colicky does not automatically mean he or she will develop behavioral issues.

Experts recommend that parents generally pay close attention to their infants and try a variety of ways to comfort them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

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