According to a recent study published in the February 11, 2020 issue of Lancet Psychiatry, declining physical activity starting at age 12 is associated with depressive symptoms at age 18, new research shows.
In the first study to objectively measure physical activity in teens, investigators found that every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behavior per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was linked to an increase in depression scores of 11.1%, 8%, and 10.7%, respectively at age 18.
Conversely, every additional hour of light activity per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was tied to a decrease in depression scores of 9.6%, 7.8%, and 11.1%, respectively, when measured at age 18.
Recommendation: Children and adolescents need daily physical activity throughout the day. The good news from this study is the implication that light activity — which can include movements as simple as standing, stretching, or casual walking — might be an effective strategy for decreasing the burden of adolescent depression. Long periods of inactivity such as playing video games, watching movies, and even studying can contribute to the development of depression symptoms.
Keeping a clean house may protect against the spread of germs, but early exposure to household cleaning agents could have an unwanted effect on young children, according to data from a recently completed longitudinal study of 3455 infant children.
Infants, whose caregivers reported frequent use of household cleaning products when the child was 3 to 4 months of age, were at increased risk for asthma and recurrent wheeze at 3 years compared with infants whose caregivers reported less frequent use, researchers report in an article in the February 18, 2020 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
However, there was no significant association between exposure to cleaning agents and an allergic reaction, suggesting that the observed respiratory vulnerabilities may result from inflammatory processes rather than allergic reactions. Young children who spend most of their time indoors were especially at risk.
Regarding specific categories of cleaners, it was found that the risk for respiratory problems was higher when liquid or solid air fresheners spray air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, dusting sprays, antimicrobial hand sanitizers, and oven cleaners were used frequently compared with infrequent use.
Recommendations: avoid commercial cleaners and air fresheners and choose non-toxic and non-irritant alternatives such as white vinegar, which has a natural anti-bacterial quality, baking soda, which is naturally abrasive, and water with a few drops of essential oil(s) for odors.
Posted by Shannon Schield, MS-LSLP
It’s that time of year again. The snow is falling, trees are going up, and parents are wracking their brains for what to get their children for the holidays. In recent years, electronic toys have become more advanced, more available, and often preferred. These are tempting to go for, as electronic toys may offer parents a welcomed break. After all, the toys entertain their child long enough so they can finally finish that cup of coffee while it’s still hot.
But as a speech therapist, I have noticed more often that the relationship between child and toy has changed. A child using an electronic toy becomes almost mesmerized by the beautiful flashing lights, whirring, beeps, and twirls. And sure, these toys can be great fun when used in moderation. But all too often, I have seen that the toy is so vocal, entertaining, and distracting that there isn’t much need for real words at all. And what’s worse – the child finds any other traditional toy boring and undesirable in comparison to the electronic toys.
I got curious about this so I looked into some research. As it turns out, even if the parent is interacting with the child while they are playing with electronic toys, language production is notably more limited than when playing with a non-electronic toy. A study published in 2016 by JAMA Pediatrics concluded “during play with electronic toys there were fewer adult words, fewer conversational turns, fewer parental responses, and fewer productions of content-specific words than during playing with traditional toys or books.” So, in a nutshell, electronic toys do decrease the quantity and quality of language.
But what about those electronic toys that are made for educational purposes? Well, those are great to have around for the occasional slow morning, but ultimately those educational electronic toys just can’t provide the same input as face-to-face interaction between a child and parent using traditional toys or books. While the educational electronic toys may have great content they don’t provide immediate, personalized feedback, facial expressions and non-verbal cues, or social interaction opportunities. Moreover, these toys can’t build phonemic awareness that ultimately results in learning words. Humans are social learners – we learn best from our communication partners. Although electronic toys can do a lot, they just can’t quite fill the shoes of actual human interaction with traditional toys.
Now, don’t be mistaken in thinking that I’m suggesting you throw out all electronic toys. Of course, any toy can provide language opportunities; it’s all about how you interact with the toy. But perhaps limiting the amount of time on electronic toys would be a healthy solution. Don’t worry, you can still pull them out and finish that coffee while it’s hot. But try bringing back those shape sorters, puzzles, books, and barns, and watch how your child learns to create their own script.
Here are some guidelines for electronic toy /media use for young children:
Sosa AV. Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play with the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication. JAMA Pediatr. 2016; 170(2):132–137. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3753
DHS Lead Abatement Program Receives Federal Approval
Efforts will improve housing conditions for low-income children and pregnant women
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today they received approval from the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement a health services initiative to provide lead abatement services in the homes of low-income children and pregnant women enrolled in BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid. Governor Tony Evers’ budget invested $14.2 million in lead testing and abatement and $2 million for the new Lead-Safe Homes Program.
“This is a great step toward my goal to ‘get the lead out’ of Wisconsin homes so that our families, and most of all our kids, don’t have to worry about lead poisoning and the long term health and learning affects that come with it,” said Governor Evers.
Improvements will include removing lead based paint and lead dust hazards, replacing fixtures such as faucets, and removing soil lead hazards. DHS will coordinate these efforts and ensure individuals providing lead abatement services are well trained and certified by the state. DHS will be directing these efforts statewide to ensure progress is made in eliminating lead hazards in the homes of those eligible for these services.
“Our initiative will help advance the efforts of this administration to eliminate the lead poisoning risks that that threaten the health and well-being of young Wisconsinites,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We will collaborate across local health departments and community organizations to ensure that the homes of low-income children and pregnant women are lead-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say there is no safe level of lead in the body. Lead poisoned children have been identified in every county in Wisconsin. In 2016, of those tested, more than 4,000 Wisconsin children under six were found to have lead poisoning. Lead can interfere with brain development and can result in lower IQ, learning difficulties, reduced educational achievement, and greater likelihood of behavioral problems like aggression, hyperactivity, and delinquency.
If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead, possible complications to her pregnancy can occur. These complications can include miscarriage, premature birth, injury to the child’s brain, kidney and nervous system, and learning or behavior problems for the child.
Lead poisoning is preventable. Since 1996, more than 220,000 children have been exposed to lead in our state. Children living in Milwaukee and Racine are at the greatest risk of exposure due to the volume of older housing stock, but any child who lives in a home built before 1978 is at risk for exposure. In 2012, the CDC lowered the blood lead threshold to 5 mcg/dl, down from 10 mcg/dl for children under age six. While no level of lead exposure is safe for children, those who test at or above that level warrant a public health response.
As any Wisconsin resident knows, ticks and mosquitoes are quite the nuisance. But more than just an annoyance, they can also spread many illnesses to people. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes is the key step in avoiding these illnesses.
The two types of ticks that most commonly bite people or pets in Wisconsin are the deer (black-legged) tick and the wood (dog) tick. A third type of tick that can bite people or pets in Wisconsin, the lone-star tick, is less common. Bites from all three of these ticks(link is external) can make you sick. In Wisconsin ticks can spread anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi(link is external), ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia. Illnesses spread by ticks can be prevented if you take the proper steps.
Not all of the 50+ species of mosquitoes in Wisconsin bite humans, but many of those that do can spread diseases. In Wisconsin, mosquitoes can spread Eastern equine encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon virus, La Crosse encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and West Nile virus. There are also illnesses that you can get from mosquitoes when you travel outside of the United States. Some of these diseases are chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis(link is external), yellow fever, and Zika virus. Illnesses spread by mosquitoes can be prevented if you take the proper steps.
KIDS SWALLOWING BATTERIES
In a study, conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio, it was found that there has been a surge in children’s visits to emergency rooms due to swallowing small objects with an annual rate increase of 92% from 1995 – present. Researchers found that the increase appears to be the result of the proliferation of devices running on button batteries. During that time period, hospitalizations due to battery ingestion increased by 150 %. Button batteries are particularly dangerous if swallowed because they can trigger chemical reactions that can cause potentially fatal internal burns. It is very important that safe storage of these batteries is practiced as well as safe disposal, such as not placing used batteries in an open waste basket.
Weekly LENA Talking Tip
This week’s talking tip: Touch, hug, hold your child while you play, read books, etc.
Skin contact, or physical touch such as hugging, is an important stimulation required to grow a healthy brain and a strong body. It may also help your child to feel connected with you and engaged in the shared activity. In fact, researchers found that when infants who were in an institution received an additional 20 min of tactile stimulation (touch) per day for 10 weeks, they subsequently scored higher on developmental assessments (Parenting for Brain).
*It’s important to keep in mind, however, that some children do not like to be touched for a variety of reasons including sensory differences. Do what’s best for your child to help him feel comfortable, connected and cared for!
Weekly LENA Talking Tip
This week’s talking tip: Get down to their level: face to face.
Being on the same eye level with your child helps him feel safer and more in control. You are also showing your child that you're giving him your full attention and that you care about what she has to say. It also may help to increase attention, engagement, opportunities for play, and eye contact. According to Dr. Anthony Koutsoftas, getting down to eye level isn’t just good for your child; it’s good for you too! By being on the same eye level with your child, you see what he sees. You experience the situation from his point of view and can help you to see his perspective. This can help you to understand your child better.
Weekly LENA Talking Tip
This week’s talking tip: Talk out loud about what you’re doing and thinking.
You don’t need to change your routine to do this! Simply talk about the task while you are doing it. Changing your baby’s clothes? Talk about undoing a button, pulling it off, putting your baby down, etc. Taking a bath? You can talk about turning the water on and off and if it is hot or cold. What is that in the tub? “Oh, it’s a rubber ducky! The ducky likes to swim in the water, just like you!” Again, you don’t need to change anything in your everyday routine. All you have to do it talk about what you are already doing!
Weekly LENA Talking Tip
This week’s talking tip: Comment on what your child is doing or looking at.
Watch your child’s eyes, face, and body. What are they looking at and showing interest in? By commenting on what your child is looking at, you are interacting while giving verbal meaning to objects and building vocabulary and language skills. For example, you see your child looking at a teddy bear. You could say, “It’s a bear! The bear is brown.” If the child reaches for the bear, you could say, “Oh, you want the bear!” If the child continues to show interest in the bear, try saying something such as, “Here are the bear’s ears…. He has 2 ears...One, two…” You don’t have to do any special activities. Watch your child and talk with her about whatever she is already interested in and doing!
The Achieve Center blog is written by the professionals who are focused on children's mental health.