News Roundup November 8th

Earliest Marker for Autism Found in Young Infants Autism isn’t usually diagnosed until after age 2. This study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, was published this month in the journal Nature. It reveals the earliest sign of developing autism ever observed — a steady decline in attention to others’ eyes within the first two to six months of life. Learn more in this article.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013 A Common Sense Media Research Study This report is based on the results of a large-scale, nationally representative survey, the second in Common Sense Media’s series on children’s media use; the first was conducted in 2011 (Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America). The study replicated the methods used two years ago: surveying parents of children ages 0 to 8 in the U.S., and covering media ranging from books/reading and music to mobile interactive media like smartphones and tablets, in order to document how children’s media environments and behaviors have changed. Some of the key findings include: Young Kids’ Mobile Access Dramatically Higher; Kids’ Time on Mobile Devices Triples; Time with “Traditional” Screen Media is Down; TV Still Dominates Kids’ Media Time; Reduced but Persistent Mobile Digital Divide and TV Widest for Education but Digital Growing. Read on about key findings from the study, or see their infographic for study highlights on the Common Sense Media website.

A First Step in Learning by Imitation, Baby Brains Respond to Another’s Actions Researchers from the University of Washington and Temple University have found evidence that begins to reveal the science behind how babies learn through imitation. In this study, babies’ brains showed specific patterns of activation when an adult performed a task with different parts of her body. For instance when 14-month-old babies watched an adult use her hand to touch a toy, the hand area of the babies’ brains lit up. When another group of babies watched an adult touch the toy using only her foot, the foot area of the babies’ brains showed increased activity. “Babies are exquisitely careful people-watchers, and they’re primed to learn from others,” said Andrew Meltzoff, co-author and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “And now we see that when babies watch someone else, it activates their own brains. This study is a first step in understanding the neuroscience of how babies learn through imitation.” The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation funded the study and it was published by Plos One. Read more about this study here.

U.S. Receives ‘C’ Grade On March of Dimes 2013 Premature Birth Report Card Despite improvements in some states, the United States again received a “C” on the March of Dimes Report Card. Grades are based on comparing individual state’s and the nation’s 2012 preliminary preterm birth rates with the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6 percent of all live births. The U.S. preterm birth rate is 11.5 percent, a decline of 10 percent from the peak of 12.8 percent in 2006. Although there has been progress, the U.S. still has one of the highest preterm birth rates of any developed nation with 1 in 9 babies born too soon.  The Report Card information for the U.S. and states is available online at:

Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy: No harm to Young Child’s IQ or Behavior, Study Finds The outcomes of this study, published this month in American Journal of Psychiatry, show that “there is no rationale for women to stop taking antidepressants part-way through pregnancy,“  The lead Investigator notes that “maternal depression is itself an important risk factor for post-natal depression after childbirth, which can have tragic consequences for the woman, her baby, and her family if it is not treated.” The study was conducted by Professor Irena Nulman, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto and associate director of the Motherisk Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Nulman compared behaviour and IQ of four groups of children to age six years and eleven months. Read more about the study here.


This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Jean Kurnik, M.A.

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