Ohio Improves Premature Birth Rate
11/4/2011 8:08:09 AM
Image from March of Dimes
A recently released report from the March of Dimes
shows that Ohio's premature birth rate is on a steady decline, from 13.3% in 2006 to 12.3% in 2009. While Ohio's numbers are still lower than the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6%, earning the state a C, the continuing decline is a good sign for Ohio's children. Ohio's rate is comparable to that of the nation as a whole, 12.2%.
A more detailed report card
shows that Ohio could further improve its score by reducing the percentages of uninsured women and women smoking, both of which contribute to preterm births. Preterm birth statistics include all births of babies before 37 weeks gestation. Although in many cases the exact cause of preterm birth is unknown, risk factors for preterm labor include: obesity, pregnancy with multiples, mothers younger than 17 or older than 35, and high levels of stress. African-American women and low income women are also at a higher risk of preterm labor. Preterm birth has been linked to a variety of negative health outcomes, including mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and blindness. Prematurity is also the leading cause of newborn deaths in America.
In an article in The Plain Dealer
on the report, Schubert Center Faculty Associate H. Gerry Taylor
commented on his recently published study of premature children that found children born prematurely learn spelling and math skills more slowly than other children during kindergarten. He said, "We had demonstrated previously, as had many researchers, that children born [very early] had problems with memory, executive function and were more prone to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If we can show that these problems can be documented and that we have the tools to document them, we can do something about these problems before a child starts falling too far behind." Download a research and policy brief from a recent Schubert Center talk given by Dr. Taylor.
Dr. Taylor is just one of several Faculty Associates studying premature births. Maureen Hack
studies the long term outcomes for very low birth weight children. Download a research and policy brief on her work. Marilyn Lotas
researches the health issues of very low and low birth weight infants. Susan Ludington
conducts research on the benefit of kangaroo care for preterm infants.
Tags: Children, Health Insurance, Infancy, Low Birth Weight
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
Bed Rest: Good for Moms and Babies?
11/23/2010 2:07:43 PM
Preterm birth is a pervasive and persistent maternal and child health concern in developed countries. In the United States in particular, the rate of preterm birth has been rising, reaching 12.5% in 2005. This is significantly higher than other developed countries–the rate of preterm birth in European countries is only 5–7%. Preterm birth compromises the health of infants, putting him or her at high risk of early death. In 2005, infants born preterm accounted for 68.6% of all deaths of infants under one year of age.
Despite these concerning statistics, methods for prevention of preterm birth are not well understood. The most common strategies include prescribing bed rest and/or activity restriction for antepartum mothers at risk for preterm delivery. Though this strategy is widely used, however, the risks and benefits of this practice are still under research.
Dr. Judith Maloni, professor in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at CWRU, has been working with women on bed rest for over twenty years. She has recently published a critical review of the existing researcher examining the risks and benefits of bed rest for the health of both pregnant women and their infants. This review suggests that there is not sufficient scientific evidence that bed rest improves child outcomes. Furthermore, the article documents significant evidence of negative outcomes of bed rest for the mother, including bone density loss, muscle atrophy and depression. These data suggest that bed rest needs to be reexamined as a strategy for preventing preterm birth. Furthermore, Dr. Maloni advocates for the use of alternative strategies to prevent preterm birth, such as home-based care, for which there is scientific evidence to support efficacy.
To read Dr. Maloni’s recent article published in Biological Research for Nursing, click here.
To read a recent press release summarizing Dr. Maloni’s research, click here.
Tags: Children, Health, Infancy
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