Early Motor Experiences Give Infants a Social Jump Start

Study indicates infants at risk for autism could benefit from motor training

In a new study published today in the journal Developmental Science (Epub ahead of print), researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development.

This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and Continue reading

Family Mealtimes Play Key Role in Asthmatic Kids’ Health

WASHINGTON – A new study has found that the quality of family interactions during mealtime affects the health of children with asthma.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, looked at 200 families with children ages 5 to 12 who had persistent asthma, observing how they interacted during a video-recorded meal in their homes.

Although mealtimes lasted on average only 18 minutes, the study found that the quality of social interactions as families ate was directly related to the children’s health, including how their lungs worked, their asthma symptoms, and the quality of their lives.

Simply put, in families that spent mealtimes talking about the day’s events, showing genuine concern about their children’s activities, and turning off electronic devices, children had better health.

Families in which the primary caregiver had less education, minority families, and single-parent families experienced more disruptions during mealtime-including watching TV and talking on cell phones-and spent less time talking about the day’s events.

This led to a more disorganized mealtime, which, in turn, was related to poorer health for the children in these families.

“Mealtimes represent a regular event for the vast majority of families with young, school-age, and adolescent children,” noted Barbara H. Fiese of the University of Illinois.

“They provide an optimal setting for public health initiatives and prevention efforts, and can be considered by policymakers and practitioners as a straightforward and accessible way to improve the health and wellbeing of children with asthma,” she added.

The study has appeared in the January/February issue of the journal, Child Development.

Study: Being Only Child, No Social Handicap

Growing up as an only child doesn’t put teenagers at a disadvantage when it comes to social skills, U.S. researchers say.

An Ohio State University study found that schoolmates selected “only children” as friends just as frequently as they did peers who grew up with siblings, a university release said Monday.

A study of more than 13,000 middle and high school students across the country examined the concern that a lack of siblings might hurt children’s social skills.

 “As family sizes get smaller in industrialized countries, there is concern about what it might mean for society as more children grow up without brothers and sisters,” said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

 “The fear is that they may be losing something by not learning social skills through interacting with siblings.”

 The study suggests that is not the case, she said.

 “I don’t think anyone has to be concerned that if you don’t have siblings you won’t learn the social skills you need to get along with other students in high school,” Bobbitt-Zeher said.

 “Kids interact in school, they’re participating in extracurricular activities, and they’re socializing in and out of school,” she said.

 “Anyone who didn’t have that peer interaction at home with siblings gets a lot of opportunities to develop social skills as they go through school.”