Pre-natal Exposure to Music Induces Lasting Neural Effects
Pre-natal sound exposure is found to induce long-term neural effects in this recent study out of the University of Helsinki, Finland. The study was composed of a learning group and a control group of pregnant women in their last semester, with the learning group listening intensely to music five times per week. Findings show that newborns seem to react to sounds such as melodies and other environmental sounds from the prenatal environment, recognizing and responding to them up to four months after birth. One implication of these findings is that an undesirable prenatal environment may also have harmful, long-range effects. For a link to the article click here.
A Newborn’s Brain Development is Enhanced by Moderate Exercise During Pregnancy
Research from the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital show results that may have a lifetime affect on a child. Professor Dave Ellemberg, who led the study said, ” This is the first randomized controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn’s brain. We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity. Most of all, we are optimistic that this will encourage women to change their health habits, given that the simple act of exercising during pregnancy could make a difference for their child’s future.” To read more, click here.
Brainstem Abnormalities Found in SIDS Infants, in Both Safe and Unsafe Sleep Environments
Investigators at Boston Children’s Hospital report that infants whose sudden and unexplainable deaths attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are not all without vulnerabilities prior to death. Led by Hannah Kinney, MD, a neuropathologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, investigators have shown that infants who die without explanation, in both safe and unsafe sleep environments, have abnormalities in brainstem chemistry that impair breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature control during sleep and are responsible for the infant’s inability to wake during any degree of asphixia such as breathing too much carbon dioxide or becoming overheated. Although these infants are often found in unsafe sleep environments, the investigators believe that the findings of their study confirm their vulnerability due to the brainstem abnormalities. Read more here.
Cell Phone Coaching Keeps Parents Engaged
According to the results of a study conducted by University of Kansas and Notre Dame, when parenting coaches called and texted mothers in a home-based parenting program, the mothers were much more likely to learn and use positive parenting strategies even six months after the program ended. The mothers were less stressed and depressed than the mothers who didn’t receive parent training as well as the mothers who did receive the same parenting program but without the cell phone component. This research represents the first randomized trial of the effects of cell phone use. Kathryn Bigelow, KU assistant research professor said, “The texts and calls extended the home visits outside of the home.” She credits the cell phone component with cost effectiveness and feasibility saying, “With the addition of the cell phone, this relatively short intervention had big effects on parenting” citing the dropout rate as half of what it was for the group that didn’t include the cell phone component. Read more here.
Cost of Child Care Increases
“Child care in the United States is expensive and the costs are getting higher. Childcare is a major expense in family budgets, often exceeding the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation or food. Unlike all other areas of education investment, including higher education, families pay the majority of costs for early education. These expenses come at a time when young families can least afford them… we are on the cusp of great leaps toward improving childcare in this country. This report will help inform the important conversations ahead” -Lynette M. Faga, Ph.D., Executive Director, Child Care Aware® of America.
On November 5, Child Care Aware of America (CCAA) released, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2013. This is a detailed report and national discussion on the increase in the cost of child care. Costs were reported for infants, 4-year-olds, and school-age care in centers and family childcare homes. The study finds that there was a 2.6 percent to a 4.8 percent increase in the cost of center-based childcare and home-based childcare. Also examined are the reasons why childcare is so expensive and what the options are for families paying for childcare. This report suggests that Congress should request that the National Academy of Sciences conduct further research on the true cost of quality child care, and they should reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. It is also suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services should require states to eliminate barriers blocking families from identifying quality settings and accessing quality, affordable child care. For more information or to download the full report, visit the Child Care Aware Website.
This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Jean Kurnik, M.A.