Public Health News Roundup: October 1
Study: Kids Encounter 4 Hours of Background TV Daily
A new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that U.S. children encounter an average of about four hours of background television daily. The study surveyed approximately 1,500 parents and caregivers of children ages 8 months to 8 years. Noise from background television “appears to impede social skills, impulse control, and the ability to concentrate, focus and complete tasks,” according to HealthDay. "We think the problem may come from the sound effects, the changes in dialogue and voice pitch, which as a whole constantly recruits a kid's attention and causes them to shift back and forth between their play task and the TV," said study author Deborah Linebarger, associate professor of education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "And that constant shifting makes it more difficult to learn how to concentrate and attend appropriately." Read more on pediatrics.
Serious Child Abuse-Related Injuries Up, Despite Overall Drop
Serious injuries from child abuse were up from 1997 to 2009, according to a review of the Kids Inpatient Database in the journal Pediatrics. This is despite an overall decrease in reported child abuse cases over that period. While child protective service records recorded a 55 percent decrease in injuries, hospital statistics showed an increase of 4.9 percent of serious injuries — such as fractures and head trauma. Study co-author John Mishel Leventhal, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, said the difference is likely due to different groups looking at different data sources. "Prevention messages must be clearer, louder and heard in various settings including health care, daycare, parent support groups," he said. Read more on violence.
Study: IVF-Related Birth Defects Becoming Less Common
Birth defects in children born through in vitro fertilization are becoming less common, according to a new study from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Subiaco, Western Australia. Assisted-reproduction techniques generally mean a higher risk of birth defects than traditional conception. The study looked at 207,000 births overall. The study authors were careful to note that they did not know how much exactly the rate of defects has decreased, nor why it is higher in the first place. "Changes to clinical practice may be largely responsible with improved (laboratory techniques) leading to the transfer of 'healthier' embryos," said Michele Hansen, the lead author of the study, to Reuters. Read more on maternal and infant health.