Article Profiles the Success of the Finnish Educational System
1/5/2012 9:55:25 AM
This month's issue of The Atlantic
highlights the success of the Finnish educational system in achieving near the top of international educational assessments while using methods quite different from those in the United States. Finland's schools focus on education as a means of achieving social equality, rather than producing high achieving students. Additionally, Finnish schools eschew extensive drilling and testing for less homework and more creative play. All education is publicly financed, from preschool to university. The article notes that, although Finland has fewer foreign-born residents than the United States, its achievement levels continue to exceed that of Norway, a neighboring country with similar ethnic makeup that uses a more American approach to education.
Understanding successful educational models is particularly important as the United States considers how to replace No Child Left Behind, which has long been criticized for its emphasis on standardized testing. In September 2011
, President Obama announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to NCLB's requirement that all students achieve proficiency in reading and math by 2014, as long as states were willing to replace NCLB with their own accountability measures. The importance of including play in school has been studied by Schubert Center Faculty Associate Sandra Russ
. In a previous blog post
, she stated that play, especially pretend play, has an essential role in child development and that playtime should be included within children's daily lives.
Tags: Children, Development, Education
Study Finds Achievement Gap Between White and Black Children Present as Early as Age 3
10/28/2011 11:35:31 AM
Photo by nycstreets
This month's issue of Child Development contains an article exploring the origins of a phenomenon known as the Black-White Achievement Gap, which refers to the substantial difference in achievement in reading and mathematics present when African American and White children enter school, which grows throughout schooling. The authors followed 314 lower income American children from birth through fifth grade. Measures of academic achievement, demographic characteristics, childrearing attitudes, depressive symptoms, parenting, neighborhood disadvantage, child care, school characteristics, and early cognitive skills were used to asses children at eight time periods.
The authors found that differences in family, child care and schooling experiences accounted for much of the gap, which was present in children by age 3. Instructional quality was especially important for Black children, who made gains in mathematics skills in the presence of certain school characteristics. These findings suggest the importance of early intervention to reduce racial inequalities in school achievement. The authors also note the importance of programs that focus on parenting skills to promote cognitive and social development in children under 3, as well as high quality child-care access for low income families.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the importance of early childhood development and interventions, especially for disadvantaged children. Dr. Claudia Coulton studies urban poverty and neighborhood impacts on children and families. Dr. David S. Crampton conducts research on child and family welfare policy. Dr. Gerald J. Mahoney studies the role of family and parental influences on children's development and socio-emotional well being. Dr. H. Gerry Taylor researches the developmental and educational impacts of low birthweight and premature birth.
In March 2010, Nobel Laureate James Heckman spoke at at a lecture sponsored by the Schubert Center on the importance of investment in early childhood education. Find out more information about his talk and watch a video of his lecture.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Family, Neighborhoods, School
Some Youth Incompetent to Stand Trial Due to Cognitive Impairments and Immaturity
10/13/2011 8:20:38 AM
A study published in September's issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found that many youth in the juvenile justice system are determined as incompetent to stand trial due to cognitive impairments and an inability to understand the long-term consequences of their actions.The authors attribute the high rate of incompetency to stand trial in adolescents, especially those under fourteen, to a "myopic temporal perspective" which leads them to misunderstand or underestimate the consequences of their actions.
The researchers used the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), the Judgement in Legal Contexts (JILC) instrument, the Welchsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (MAYSI-2) to evaluate competence, future orientation, intellectual ability and psychopathy in 453 detained youth and 474 youth in the community who were not involved in the juvenile justice system. They found that competency was strongly associated with both intelligence and age. Additionally, youth with psychiatric symptoms were less competent than youth without psychiatric symptoms.
The authors note the importance of these findings in the juvenile justice system, as not all states require a consideration of maturity in evaluating juvenile defendant's competence. Aaron Kivisto, the lead author of the article, states, "When we're teenagers, we're focused on short-term consequences. Teens think about what might happen later today if they do something. Because courts can impose consequences that can affect someone's life for years, it appears that adolescents approach these longer-term and very serious implications blindly."Gabriella Celeste
, Child Policy Director, spoke with Faculty Associate Patrick Kanary
and Marcia Egbert of the George Gund Foundation on October 11, 2011 about recent reforms to juvenile justice programs in Ohio. These reforms will result in more youth remaining in their communities in evidence-based programs who would have previously been incarcerated. Download the powerpoint of their talk.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study child development, including:
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice, Violence
Article Brings Insight to How Adolescent Brains Work
10/6/2011 8:18:50 AM
This month’s National Geographic Magazine highlights new scientific understanding of adolescent brain development and the neurological changes that occur with adolescence. Although the brain doesn’t grow much between the ages of 12 and 25, massive changes lead to a faster and more sophisticated brain by adulthood.
During adolescence, axons, the nerve fibers used to send signals between neurons, become insulated with a fatty substance, myelin, in order to boost the axon’s transmission speed. Heavily used synapses grow much stronger. At the same time the brain goes through a process known as synaptic pruning, whereby infrequently used synapses wither allowing the brain to become more efficient.
Studies of impulse control show that although teens at age 15 can perform as well as adults if motivated, they were less able than adults to use regions of the brain that help them resist impulses. Among those performing the test at age 20, these regions of the brain were as easily accessed as adults. However, adults shouldn’t look at adolescents as neurologically inferior.
The article also states that from an evolutionary perspective teen brains are “exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature[s] wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.” Thrill-seeking behaviors by adolescents, which peak at age 15, leads teens to have an openness to new and exciting experiences. Changes during adolescence also lead teens to seek out people of their own age, building important relationships for success in adulthood.
On October 6, Dr. Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, whose research on adolescent risk-taking is described in the article, will be speaking at Baldwin Wallace College on adolescent brain development and risk taking. Learn more about his talk.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate Andrew Garner recently spoke at the County Commissioners Association of Ohio about adolescent brain development as part of a panel organized by Voices for Ohio’s Children. He was accompanied by Child Policy Director Gabriella Celeste. View their presentation. Gabriella Celeste will also be speaking at an upcoming Schubert Center event on Tuesday October 11 on her involvement in juvenile justice reform in Ohio. Learn more about this event.
Read the National Geographic article.
Little known fact: Schubert Center graduate assistant Sarah C. Miller is from Austin, Texas, where National Geographic photographer Kitra Cahana followed teens for a year in the photographs accompanying the story
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice
Article Proposes Prenatal and Early Childhood Origins of Violence
9/14/2011 11:08:30 AM
In an article published in January 2011 in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior, Dr. Jianghong Liu of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing proposes a framework for understanding the pre- and early post-natal origins of violence. Dr. Liu argues that the current literature neglects the role of early childhood in child and adolescent violent behavior and lacks long-term studies of how early childhood health impacts later behavior.
She proposes a variety of early health risk factors that may increase risk of childhood aggression, including smoking during pregnancy, birth complications, alcohol and drug consumption during pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, maternal depression, malnutrition, lead exposure, head injury, child abuse and maternal stress. These risk factors do the most damage during early childhood, when children’s neuro-development is at its peak. She argues that public health prevention programs targeting these risk factors are a heretofore-unused opportunity for violence prevention.
In a news article about her research, Dr. Liu says, “As a society we should invest in better health care for early life – as early as a growing fetus – in order to minimize their health risk factors for violence. It is never too early to intervene in the development of violent tendencies.” Her statement echoes the work of Dr. James Heckman, Nobel Laureate, who advocates for economic investment in early childhood education. A summary of his talk at the Schubert Center in March 2010 can be accessed here.
On September 27, Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Daniel Flannery will be giving a talk on Merging Research, Practice, and Policy in Addressing Children’s Exposure to Violence. He is the director of the Semi J. and Ruth J. Begun Center for Violence Prevention at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. His current research projects include Project Tapestry, which studies violence prevention services for youth, and evaluation of the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program.
Several other Faculty Associates study violence in children and youth. Dr. James Spilsbury of the Center for Clinical Investigation studies the role of sleep disturbances in children who have been exposed to violence. Dr. Mark Singer of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences studies youth violence and co-existing drug and mental disorders.
To read the original article online, click here.
To read a Science Direct article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Infancy, Violence
Improving Access to Books in Poorer Neighborhoods
5/20/2011 11:36:50 AM
Research consistently shows the importance of access to reading materials for children, especially low-income children. A meta-analysis published last August by Reading is Fundamental found that access to print materials, and in particular access to print materials to own, improves children’s reading performance, helps children learn the basics of reading, causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time, and produces improved attitudes towards reading and learning. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey foundation found that children who were not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate high school on time. Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
An 2001 study from the University of Michigan and Temple University comparing access to reading materials in low-income and middle-income urban neighborhoods found that while middle-income neighborhoods had as many as 13 book titles available for every child, low-income neighborhoods had as few as 1 title for every 300 children. Additionally, both public and school libraries in low-income neighborhoods had fewer hours and fewer books than libraries in middle-income neighborhoods. This finding follows an earlier study that found that classroom, school and public libraries combined in a high-income neighborhood had an average of nearly 261,000 books, while libraries in low-income neighborhoods had between 113,000 and 106,000 books.
However, the limited access to books in these neighborhoods does not indicate that parents are unwilling to buy books for their children. Susan B. Newman, a co-author of the 2001 study, said in a recent New York Times article “When poor people, even those at low literacy levels, have a little extra money, they will buy inexpensive books. But some families have so little disposable income, they can’t afford any books.”
The New York Times recently profiled an organization that works to increase the number of books in the homes of low-income children, First Book Marketplace. First Book Marketplace sells books discounted far below their retail prices to programs that serve low-income children. Their website shows classic titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Wild Things Are, and A Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as SAT preparatory materials and nonfiction, discounted by 50% or more.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study children in low-income households and literacy:
More information about First Book Marketplace can be found on their website.
For those interested in improving access to books in their communities, the Corporation for National and Community Service provides a toolkit for starting a book distribution team.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Poverty, School
Faculty Associate Studies Relationship Between ADHD and Poor Academic Achievement
4/26/2011 2:00:02 PM
Faculty Associate Dr. Lee Thompson of the Department of Psychological Sciences recently co-authored a study on the relationship between ADHD behaviors and academic performance, published in Psychological Sciences. The study, which included 271 pairs of ten-year-old identical and fraternal twins, found that the link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and academic performance is due to a variety of interactions between genes and environment.
Although the majority of twins did not have ADHD, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues studied a variety of behavioral symptoms of ADHD on a continuum, focusing on inattention and hyperactivity, as rated by mothers and researchers, as well as mathematics and reading ability. In analyzing their data, they found that some genes influence behavioral symptoms, mathematics ability and reading ability simultaneously while others influence each specifically.
In a press release about the study, Dr. Thompson notes that although the study does show a relationship between poor academics and ADHD behaviors, genes are not everything and interventions can modify the environmental influence on both academic achievement and ADHD behaviors. Finally, the study notes that future research should focus on identifying the mechanisms behind the connection between ADHD symptoms and poor academic achievement to identify areas for intervention.
Tags: Children, Development, Disabilities, Education, School
New Report Shows Children with Poor Reading Skills in Third Grade More Likely to Not Graduate from High School
4/12/2011 11:13:37 AM
A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school on time. The report was released just days after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized recent cuts to early education programs, saying “if we want to close achievement gaps -- if we're serious about giving every single child a chance to be successful -- we have to enter kindergarten ready to learn and ready to read.”
The report analyzed statistics from a longitudinal national study of nearly 4000 students born between 1979 and 1989. The study also found that 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor and that poor Black and Hispanic students had the highest rate of failure to finish high school by age 19. The report note the importance of third grade as “the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn”, meaning that interventions after third grade are less effective than earlier ones.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study issues related to literacy and early education:
Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
- Schubert Center Associate Director Dr. Elizabeth Short studies cognitive development in school-aged children as well as cognitive and academic consequences of attention deficit disorder, language disabilities, and reading disabilities. A policy brief on her work on assessing developmental differences through play can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Lee Thompson of Psychological Sciences studies the development of language in childhood and early environmental influences on reading skills in twins. A policy brief on her research on children’s development of mathematical skills can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Barbara A. Lewis of Psychological Sciences studies the role of genetics in speech, language and literacy. A policy brief on her work in this area can be downloaded here.
To read the Casey Foundation's report, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
The Creativity Crisis
2/25/2011 11:13:53 AM
Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss the decline in creativity among Americans in their recently published article “The Creativity Crisis” in Newsweek Magazine. Creativity is the production of something original and useful and requires divergent thinking skills (generating many ideas) and convergent thinking skills (combining those ideas for the best result). Kyung Hee Kim of the College of William and Mary analyzed the creativity scores of 300,000 children and adults over time and found that American creativity scores were on the rise until 1990 and then started to fall. The article entertains several hypotheses, from increased tv and video game time, to standardized education to explain for the fall in creativity scores in the 1990’s.
While there is no clear cause for the creativity decline researchers like James C. Kaufman of California State University, San Bernardino are finding that creativity can be taught. The article goes on to talk about progressive schools like the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, OH that are using project-based learning methods and finding that children are not only enjoying school they are mastering the demands of curriculum requirements while utilizing creative thinking and problem solving skills to learn. If finding children enjoying school wasn’t a hard enough sell for encouraging creative thinking in schools, in the first year of opening the school’s state achievement scores placed them among one of the top 3 schools in Akron, Ohio.
Despite the decline in creativity scores among children over the past 20 years, there is hope that with a better understanding of the creative process, policymakers, educators, and caregivers will be better able to foster a sense of creativity throughout a child’s development.
To read the Creativity Crisis click here
To read more about how to foster creativity click here
Listen to Po Bronson, James Kaufman, and Robert Slavin discuss issues of Creativity on NPR
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:
Sandra Russ, PhD
- Dr. Russ' research interests include investigating how creativity and pretend play is involved in child development and understanding the role of affect in the creative process.
Elizabeth Short, PhD
- Dr. Short's research interests include cognitive development in preschoolers and school-aged children; cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational factors that impact academic achievement; and individual differences in learning.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
Leaded Gasoline Responsible for Spike in Childhood Lead Exposure, Study Finds
2/22/2011 1:28:54 PM
A recent study conducted by Case Western Reserve University professors Dr. Norman Robbins, Dr. James A. Lalumandier and Dr. Richard A. Shulze found that leaded gasoline usage lead to dangerously high levels of lead exposure for children during the mid-1970s. The study, titled “Childhood Lead Exposure and Uptake in Teeth in the Cleveland Area During the Era of Leaded Gasoline”, was published in Science of the Total Environment in 2010.
The study examined lead levels through testing of tooth enamel, a more reliable method for study of past lead exposure than blood lead levels. Tooth enamel develops with layers, similar to tree rings, that can give a picture of the environment at the time of development. In comparing tooth enamel to data from Lake Erie’s core, the researchers were able to show that lead exposure for children rose and fell with levels of atmospheric lead, which usually comes from car emissions. Additionally, lead levels were higher in people who had lived in high traffic neighborhoods during their childhood. The reduction in lead exposure during the phasing-out of leaded gasoline occurred concurrently with the reduction in lead from other sources, such as paint and food cans, which may have also been a factor in the drop in the level of lead found in teeth.
Lead exposure in children can lead to various gastrointestinal, neuromuscular and neurological symptoms. Currently, lead paint is the leading source of lead exposure in children in the United States. However, leaded gasoline is still in use in some parts of South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and is used extensively in North Korea, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Dr. James Lalumandier is a Schubert Center Faculty Associate. He has previously given talks for the center on his efforts to provide local school children with free dental examinations and sealants. A policy brief on his work can be downloaded here.
To watch a video on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Neighborhoods
The Importance of Imaginative Play
1/10/2011 9:44:46 AM
Published on January 5, 2011, a recent New York Times article draws attention to the importance of imaginative play in child development. As children become increasingly scheduled with extracurricular activities and schools reduce time for play in order to prepare for tests, finding time for creative play often falls on busy parents. American children ages 8 to 18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day looking at television, computer and video game screens, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, only one in five children live within walking distance of a playground or park, contributing to the rise in childhood obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The article also describes the important skills, such as impulse control, problem solving and teamwork, learned through classic games such as Simon Says and building forts. Parents can encourage creative play by providing more unstructured time and limiting screen time. The article notes the value of spaces set aside for play and the mess that comes with it, as well as toys that inspire creative play such as blocks and dress-up supplies.
Schubert Center faculty associate Sandra Russ studies the role of pretend play in child development and in child psychotherapy. “It is important to educate parents about the importance of children’s play – especially pretend play,” says Dr. Russ, “Parents should enjoy their child’s play and provide time and space for play. Children are not ‘wasting time’ when they play.”
In New York City, a recent event, called the Ultimate Block Party and supported by the National Science Foundation, attracted 50,000 people to Central Park with games such as I Spy, puzzles and sidewalk chalk. Dr. Roberta Golinkoff and Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, founders of the event, are now working to create similar events in other cities and to make the New York event an annual gathering.
Organizations such as KaBOOM! and Creative Play Plus encourage creative play. KaBOOM! helps parents identify local areas to play and provides tools for parents and community members to fundraise and build playscapes in their area. Creative Play Plus, written by several Cleveland area child educators and sponsored by Step2, provides information about the benefits of creative play and provides ideas for caregivers for inspiring creative play in children.
To read the article, visit NYTimes.com
To learn more about creative play and get ideas for engaging children in imaginative play visit Creative Play Plus.
To learn more about finding and creating accessible and safe play areas in your neighborhood visit KaBOOM!’s website.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Neighborhoods, Play, School
Patterns of Lead Exposure in Childhood
11/10/2010 1:10:51 PM
Though the incidence is declining, lead exposure remains one of the most common preventable poisonings affecting children. Exposure to lead has been linked to a number of neurological, behavioral, and developmental problems both in childhood and in later life. Children who experience lead exposure early in life often have difficulties with inattentiveness and hyperactivity, which can affect their performance in school and, ultimately, their educational achievement over the long term.
While almost all children are exposed to at least small amounts of lead, a child’s individual risk of exposure to harmful amounts of lead – particularly in urban areas – is closely linked to his or her neighborhood and socioeconomic status. Recent data published by researchers working in Rhode Island illustrates the importance of neighborhood in risk for lead exposure. The researchers mapped statewide data on incidence of childhood lead poisoning taken over a 12-year period. They found that in some census blocks, the risk for lead poisoning was almost 50 percent higher than in others. The highest rate of lead poisoning occurred in the state’s lowest income communities, in which many families also still live in older housing that is more likely to contain lead-based paint. Researchers hope that these findings may be used to improve the efficacy of clean-up efforts in the state.
Click here to read the Science Daily article on this research.
Lead poisoning is also a serious public health concern in Cleveland. As recently as 2007, rates of childhood lead poisoning were 16% in Cuyahoga County, 22% in Cleveland and 24% in East Cleveland. While these numbers are still unacceptably high, they have been declining in the last decade. This decline may be attributed in part to public health efforts to clean up lead-based paint, but a multidisciplinary team of researchers at CWRU, including Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. James Lalumandier, has offered an alternative explanation. A chemical analysis of the layers of teeth extracted from Cleveland residents has shown that lead levels are lower in the layers that were formed in later years. Furthermore, researchers estimate that this decline in lead levels in teeth occurred simultaneously with the decline in leaded gasoline use in the United States as a whole. This research provides a more comprehensive explanation for the declining levels of lead poisoning nationally. The researchers emphasize, however, that these findings do not undermine the importance of improving housing standards, including removal of lead-based paint, which is still essential to preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Click here to read a more detailed summary of the work of Dr. Lalumandier and colleagues.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Health, Neighborhoods, Poverty
The Role of Video Games in Child Development
10/29/2010 1:47:47 PM
Research on video game use by children has illustrated the potential for serious harmful effects of overuse, including increased hostility and aggressive behaviors as well as decreased time spent on physical activity, interaction with family and completing schoolwork. While these negative effects are a real concern for parents, new research is illustrating the potential for video games to be used to improve children’s health and development. Research has suggested that playing video games may actually enhance children’s development of visual cognition by improving mental rotation skills and visual and spatial memory. Enhanced visual cognition may have a variety of benefits – further research indicates that surgeons who regularly played video games as children make significantly fewer errors in the operating room than other surgeons. When the surgeons were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and given certain game-like tasks, it appeared that those who regularly played video games were able to access and utilize an entirely different part of the brain to complete these tasks. Though the full implications of such findings warrant further examination, they provide an interesting insight the effects of video games – and the environment as a whole – on a child’s developing brain.
Research also suggests that video games have the potential to provide an effective alternative form of education, and some schools have begun to incorporate video games as a teaching tool in the classroom. Quest To Learn, a new public middle school in New York City, centers its curriculum on the use of visual media, and video games in particular, as learning spaces for educating children. The school, which takes a “systems” approach to learning, uses technology as a tool for teaching standard middle-school curriculum, with additional classes on video game design. The “game-like” lessons are intended both to hold children’s attention and to teach them to apply knowledge on a certain topic (e.g. fractions) to other domains of thinking and learning.
To watch a New York Times video on Quest To Learn, click here.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are also integrating technology, games, and child development. Dr. Kiju Lee, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been working with colleagues to develop sensor-integrated geometric blocks (SIG-Blocks), a technologically improved version of the basic geometric blocks children have been playing with for decades. While geometric blocks are already a commonly-used tool for assessing children’s cognitive and learning processes, SIG-blocks provide automated, computerized feedback mechanism for measuring fine motor skills and indicators of cognitive growth. These data may be used by parents and health professional to monitor an individual child’s development, and to conduct research to enhance our understand human cognitive development.
Tags: Children, Development, Education, Health, Play, School
The Impact of Prenatal Exposure on Later Development
10/22/2010 7:20:03 AM
Scientific research continues to provide evidence that the prenatal stage of human development can have significant effects on health and development in subsequent life stages. Exposure to toxic substances such as lead, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs has been linked to various problems, including low birth weight, delays in cognitive and neurological development, and later behavioral and learning disorders. These developmental disorders have a significant impact on not only the child, but also the family and community. Schubert Center Faculty Associates Dr. Maureen Hack and Dr. Lynn Singer are among a number of researchers conducting longitudinal research with low birth weight infants, many with a history of prenatal exposure to toxic substances, to examine the effects of these early exposure infants’ biological, psychological and behavioral development throughout their lives.
While there is clear evidence that fetal exposure may impact later development, the relationship is complex and warrants further investigation. For example, research has established a relatively clear connection between alcohol use during pregnancy and developmental disorders in childhood. However, a recent article published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that light alcohol use during pregnancy does not appear to negatively impact development. While alcohol use during pregnancy clearly can be detrimental, the mechanisms through which alcohol impacts development is still being explored.
To read more about Dr. Hack’s and Dr. Singer’s ongoing research projects, access the Schubert Center for Child Studies Policy Briefs :
The impact of prenatal exposures, both positive and negative, are also subject of a new popular book exploring the effects of various fetal exposures, including mother’s diet, nutrition, stress, trauma and drug exposure, on human development. In Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, author Annie Murphy Paul provides a personal account of her own attempts to sift through the growing body of scientific literature examining prenatal exposure as she makes decisions as an expectant mother. Though not intended as a scientific review of the literature on the topic, Paul provides an engaging survey of topics currently under investigation and insight into the ways in which these findings may shape parental behavior.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Health, Infancy, Low Birth Weight, Parenthood
The Importance of Oral Health
9/30/2010 1:23:51 PM
This September, Cleveland public radio, WCPN Ideastream, is broadcasting a special program examining the importance of oral health to overall systemic health, and the many barriers to dental health care access individuals face.
The series, entitled, “Watch Your Mouth,” features interviews with leading dental professionals in the Cleveland area, including many from our own CWRU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Nabil Bissada of CWRU highlights the connections between gum disease, heart disease, diabetes, and even premature birth to emphasize the importance of oral health to overall health. Oral infections provide easy access for disease-causing bacteria to enter the body, and sustained oral inflammation can also have adverse effects on the heart, liver, pancreas and joints.
Oral health is a particularly important issue to address in childhood. Dr. Gerald Feretti, also a professor at CWRU, discusses the high rates of oral health problems in children. Early childhood tooth decay, he notes, is the number one chronic infection in childhood, occurring even more frequently than asthma or ear infections. Dr. Feretti emphasizes that poor oral health habits in childhood lead to poor oral and systemic health through adulthood.
In October, the Schubert Center for Child Studies is also addressing the issue of oral health for children. Dr. James Lalumandier, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Dentistry at CWRU and a Schubert Center Faculty Associate, will be presenting a decade of work helping to improve the oral health of children in Cleveland. The Healthy Smiles Dental Sealant Program, founded by Dr. Lalumandier, works to provide preventive dental health services to children in low-income communities in Cleveland. At the Center’s October Conversation on Children in Research, Policy, and Practice, Dr. Lalumandier will discuss this work and suggest ways in which policy could be used to improve children’s oral health.
To listen to WCPN’s “Watch Your Mouth,” click here.
To view details of Dr. Lalumandier’s lecture, click here
To view Dr. Lalumandier’s Faculty Associate profile, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood
Nutrition Interventions in Cleveland
8/20/2010 11:29:39 AM
Jessica Kelley-Moore, PhD and Schubert Center Associate Elaine Borawski, PhD are leading the way in building better opportunities for Cleveland community members to make healthy choices when eating. Their work on the Corner Store Project has improved the accessibility of fresh produce for members of the Cleveland community. The pilot Cleveland Corner Store Project, completed in the summer of 2009, and served as valuable evidence to support expanded efforts in this and other areas of neighborhood health. Recently, the School of Medicine went after and won a prized grant from the CDC to launch the Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN).
“Increasing Access to Healthy Foods in Urban Neighborhoods” is the first major research effort—the core project—for the PRCHN. “The kick-off project takes aim at the problem of poor nutrition and its adverse health effects, which disproportionately plague those in underserved urban communities,” says Borawski, who is director of the School of Medicine’s Center for Health Promotion Research and co-director and principal investigator of the PRCHN.
Of the scope of the new project, Kelley-Moore, says, “Multiply the corner store project by four. Add schools, community gardens and community centers as points of impact with corner stores, and you have an idea of the promise of this Healthy Neighborhoods core project.”
To read an article about Drs. Kelley-Moore and Borawski's research click here
To read more about health food initiatives in Cleveland and nationwide:
Center for Health Promotion Research at Case Western Reserve University
The Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on August 6, 2010, a bill that provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs including school lunch. If signed into law, it will be the first time that the federal government has increased funding for the programs in 30 years.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Early Childhood, Healthy Eating, Health Insurance, Obesity
Celebrity International Adoptions
7/6/2010 11:14:23 AM
A recent article in the New York Daily News highlights the potential impact of celebrities who choose to adopt overseas rather than domestically. Dr. Victor Groza, a faculty associate with the Schubert Center for Child Studies, commented on this recent trend among celebrities to adopt internationally. Dr. Groza makes an important argument in the article, stating that “While there are tremendous economic advantages for internationally adopted kids, they miss out on the cultural identity they would have enjoyed had they stayed in their home country.”
Read this article in the New York Daily News
where you'll find some of his articles available for download.
Tags: Development, Early Childhood, Mental Health
Is Moving a Lot Bad for Kids?
6/28/2010 11:12:01 AM
Drs. Oishi and Schimmack published an interesting article this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concerning the long-term impact of children who moved frequently. This study found that introverted children were at greater risk of having more difficulties developing quality social relationships, while extroverted children tended to have the psychological resources to handle the distress of moving and creating new social bonds. Research such as this can potentially help families and school districts intervene more effectively as children transition to a new residence.
Read about this study in the Washington Post
Tags: Children, Development, School
The End of the Best Friend
6/28/2010 10:48:39 AM
A recent article in the New York Times discussed an interesting trend of school officials discouraging best-friend bonds in an effort to curb exclusivity and bullying. While some may see the benefits of encouraging children to develop multiple relationships, nothing compares to the social and emotional benefits of a forming close, intimate relationships. When children have people to call their best friend, they are able to develop the emotional capacity and communication skills needed to manage and maintain close relationships through difficult circumstances. Moreover, children then develop the confidence and ability to form healthy adult relationships.
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Tags: Bullying, Children, Development, Education