- 2018Oct 18
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Bloomberg.
An increasing number of births happen outside of marriage, signaling cultural and economic shifts that are here to stay, according to a new report from the United Nations.
Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest international provider of sexual and reproductive health services. That number is even higher in the European Union.
The EU likely sees more births out of wedlock because many member countries have welfare systems that support gender-balanced child care, said Michael Hermann, UNFPA's senior adviser on economics and demography, in an interview. Public health care systems, paid paternal leave, early education programs and tax incentives give unwed parents support beyond what a partner can provide.
The data show such births in the U.S. and EU are predominantly to unmarried couples living together rather than to single mothers, the report says. The data suggest that societal and religious norms about marriage, childbearing and women in the workforce have changed, said Kelly Jones, the director for the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Jones also noted that the rise in births outside of marriage is closely correlated to delays in childbearing. “Women are claiming their ground professionally,” she said. “Delaying motherhood is a rational decision when you consider the impact it can have on your career, and that’s contributing to this trend.”
The average age an American woman has her first child is now 27, up from 22 in 1970. As the marriage rate has fallen in the U.S.—and those who do tie the knot do so later in life—the number of adults in cohabiting relationships has steadily risen. This shift is most evident among those under age 35, who represent half of all cohabiting couples, however the rise in cohabitation is occurring across all age demographics.
The traditional progression of Western life “has been reversed,” said John Santelli, a professor in population, family health and pediatrics at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Cohabiting partners are having children before getting married. That’s a long-term trend across developing nations.”
- 2018Oct 17
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
A year after a concussion, up to one-third of kids still have symptoms such as headache and irritability that may affect school performance, a new study finds.
"Children with all types of injuries may show post-concussion symptoms," said lead researcher Linda Ewing-Cobbs, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center Medical School in Houston.
Her team found as many as 31 percent still had symptoms that included inattention or fatigue 12 months after their head injury.
Girls who had mood problems beforehand and kids from poor or troubled families seem the most vulnerable, the researchers said.
According to Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, "This study is valuable because it demonstrates that our approach to post-concussive management should take into consideration prior psychological issues, gender, familial harmony, as well as income disparity."
Taking these factors into account might help identify children at higher risk for persistent symptoms, suggested Glatter, who was not involved with the new study.
Physical symptoms are usually seen soon after the head injury, Ewing-Cobbs said. Emotional and mental symptoms may become more noticeable several weeks later when children return to school and sports.
Although symptoms often disappear within a month, some children have prolonged difficulties that likely affect their school functioning, she explained.
"Children with symptoms that persist beyond a month should be monitored by their pediatrician so that they can be referred for any needed physical or psychological health services," Ewing-Cobbs added.
For the study, the researchers looked at nearly 350 children, aged 4 to 15, who suffered either a concussion or an orthopedic injury. Parents completed surveys that asked about their kids before the injury and general information about their home life.
The researchers then used a ratings scale to evaluate post-concussion recovery.
Although girls and boys had similar pre-concussion characteristics, girls had significantly more persistent symptoms than boys. They also had twice the odds of symptoms lasting one year after injury, the findings showed.
How soon a child can return to school and sports after a concussion needs to be tailored to each child, Ewing-Cobbs suggested. "There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of return-to-play in high-impact sports," she said.
That decision should be based on collaboration between medical and school personnel and family, she added.
Each year, 1 million to 2 million children in the United States are treated for mild traumatic brain injury, which includes concussion from sports and other causes.
Glatter said this study suggests special accommodations may be needed when kids return to school in order to ensure that recovery continues.
"This may include medications to manage headaches, regulate mood and anxiety, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to help with adjustment and problem solving," he said.
Parents and teachers need to look out for any signs of depression or anxiety that could influence school performance and social integration, Glatter advised.
- 2018Oct 16
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
A new study of identical twins found that the child who experienced harsher behavior and less parental warmth was more aggressive and exhibited more callous-unemotional traits, such as a lack of empathy and a moral compass.
In a study of 227 identical twin pairs, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University analyzed small differences in the parenting that each twin experienced to determine whether these differences predicted the likelihood of antisocial behaviors. They found that the twin who experienced stricter or harsher treatment and less emotional warmth from parents had a greater chance of showing aggression and callous-unemotional (CU) traits.
“Some of the early work on callous-unemotional traits focused on their biological bases, like genetics and the brain, making the argument that these traits develop regardless of what is happening in a child’s environment, that parenting doesn’t matter,” said Dr. Rebecca Waller, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Psychology, who led the study.
“We felt there must be something we could change in the environment that might prevent a susceptible child from going down the pathway to more severe antisocial behavior.”
The work is the latest in a series of studies from Waller and her colleagues using observation to assess a variety of aspects of parenting. The initial research, which considered a biological parent and child, confirmed that parental warmth plays a significant role in whether CU traits materialize.
A subsequent adoption study of parents and children who were not biologically related turned up consistent results.
Knowing this led Waller and University of Michigan psychologist Dr. Luke Hyde to team with Dr. S. Alexandra Burt, co-director of the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Using 6- to 11-year-old participants from a large, ongoing study of twins that Burt directs, the team turned its attention to identical twins.
For 454 children — 227 sets of identical twins — parents completed a 50-item questionnaire about the home environment. They also established their harshness and warmth levels by rating 24 statements such as “I often lose my temper with my child” and “My child knows I love him/her.”
The researchers assessed child behavior by asking the mother to report on 35 traits related to aggression and CU traits.
“The study convincingly shows that parenting — and not just genes — contributes to the development of risky callous-unemotional traits,” said Hyde, an associate professor in Michigan’s Department of Psychology. “Because identical twins have the same DNA, we can be more sure that the differences in parenting the twins received affects the development of these traits.”
According to Waller, a potential next step is to turn these findings into interventions for families trying to prevent a child from developing these traits or to improve troubling behaviors that have already begun.
“This provides strong evidence that parenting is also important in the development of callous-unemotional traits,” Hyde said. “The good news is we know that treatments can help parents who may need extra support with children struggling with these dangerous behaviors.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.