Adolescence/Teens7

Child abuse rises in connection with soldiers' deployments

Large study explores child maltreatment patterns in families of US Army soldier-parents

November 13, 2015

Science Daily/Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Children under age two may be at heightened risk for abuse and neglect during the six months immediately following a parent's return from deployment in the US Army, and the risk may rise among Army families with soldiers who are deployed more than once, suggests new research.

 

Researchers from the PolicyLab at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) performed one of the largest longitudinal retrospective studies analyzing child abuse and neglect among Army families. Supported by the Defense Health Program, the study appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

 

"Prior research had revealed an increased risk to children while parents were deployed, mostly due to supervisory neglect while parents were overseas," said the study's senior author, David M. Rubin, M.D., MSCE, the co-director of PolicyLab. "This study is the first to reveal an increased risk when soldiers with young children return home from deployment. This demonstrates that elevated stress when a soldier returns home can have real and potentially devastating consequences for some military families."

 

"While incidents of child abuse and neglect among military families are well below that of the general population, this study is another indicator of the stress deployments place on soldiers, family members and caregivers," said Karl F. Schneider, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "Since the end of the data collection period in 2007, the Army has enacted myriad programs to meet these kinds of challenges head on, and we will continue working to ensure services and support are available to soldiers, families, and their children."

 

The study drew on two different measures of child abuse from Army databases: substantiated child maltreatment reports and medical diagnoses of child maltreatment. The substantiated reports, collected by the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) of the Department of Defense, captured four types of child maltreatment: physical, sexual, and emotional, and neglect. The medical diagnoses were identified from TRICARE, the healthcare program for U.S. service members and their families.

 

The study included children under age two in Army families of over 112,000 soldiers deployed once or twice during the years 2001 to 2007. The first two years of a child's life are known to be a period of high stress for families.

 

The researchers compared patterns of abuse and neglect in Army families of soldiers deployed only once versus those deployed twice. The study focused on the first two years of a child's life because of the elevated risk for life-threatening child abuse among infants that exceeds risk in all other age groups.

 

Although the proportion of families whose children were identified with abuse or neglect was low, the researchers found there was an elevated risk of abuse and neglect specifically during the six months immediately following a soldier's one-time deployment. When soldiers were deployed twice, the highest rate of abuse and neglect occurred during the second deployment, and was usually perpetrated by a non-soldier caregiver. The rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect doubled during the second deployment compared to the first deployment period.

 

"The finding that in most cases the perpetrators were not the soldiers themselves reveals to us that the stress that plays out in Army families during or after deployment impacts the entire family, and is not simply a consequence of the soldier's experience and stress following deployment," said Christine Taylor, the study's lead author, a project manager at CHOP's PolicyLab.

 

The Family Advocacy Program offers a breadth of valuable services to families, such as parenting classes, child care services, and classes focused on a soldier's reintegration into home life. Ultimately, these findings may inform efforts by the military and civilian systems to standardize care and support military families during all periods of elevated risk.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151113105622.htm

Children of military parents, caregivers at greater risk for adverse outcomes

August 17, 2015

Science Daily/The JAMA Network Journals

Children with parents or caregivers currently serving in the military had a higher prevalence of substance use, violence, harassment and weapon-carrying than their nonmilitary peers in a study of California school children, according to an article.

 

While most young people whose families are connected to the military demonstrate resilience, war-related stressors, including separation from parents because of deployment, frequent relocation and the worry about future deployments, can contribute to struggles for some of them, according to the study background.

 

Kathrine Sullivan, M.S.W., of the University of Southern California School of Social Work, Los Angeles, and coauthors analyzed data collected in 2013 that included 54,679 military-connected and 634,034 nonmilitary-connected secondary school students from public civilian schools in every county and almost all the school districts in California. Students were defined as military connected if they had a parent or caregiver currently serving in the military. Latino students were the largest percentage of the sample (51.4 percent) and 7.9 percent of students indicated having a parent in the military, according to the results.

 

·      45.2 percent of military-connected youth reported lifetime alcohol use compared with 39.2 percent of their nonmilitary-connected peers

·      12.2 percent of military-connected youth reported recently smoking cigarettes in the previous 30 days compared with about 8.4 percent of their nonmilitary peers

·      62.5 percent of military-connected students reported any physical violence compared with 51.6 percent of nonmilitary-connected students

·      17.7 percent of military-connected youth reported carrying a weapon at school compared with 9.9 percent of nonmilitary students

·      11.9 percent of military-connected students reported recent other drug use (e.g., cocaine and lysergic acid diethylamide [LSD]) compared with 7.3 percent of nonmilitary peers

 

The authors note the data they used were cross-sectional and therefore cannot infer causality. The data also come from a self-report survey and students may have been reluctant to report risky behavior.

 

"Based on the totality of findings from this study and others, further efforts are needed to promote resilience among military children who are struggling. More efforts in social contexts, including civilian schools and communities, to support military families during times of war are likely needed," the study concludes.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150817132003.htm

 

Mindfulness meditation increases well-being in adolescent boys

September 1, 2010

Science Daily/University of Cambridge

"Mindfulness," the process of learning to become more aware of our ongoing experiences, increases well-being in adolescent boys, a new study reports.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed 155 boys from two independent UK schools, Tonbridge and Hampton, before and after a four-week crash course in mindfulness. After the trial period, the 14 and 15 year-old boys were found to have increased well-being, defined as the combination of feeling good (including positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, interest and affection) and functioning well.

 

Professor Felicia Huppert of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge said: "More and more we are realising the importance of supporting the overall mental health of children. Our study demonstrates that this type of training improves well-being in adolescents and that the more they practice, the greater the benefits. Importantly, many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them -- a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention.

"Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefitted most from the training."

For the experiment, students in six classes were trained in mindful awareness -- mindfulness. Mindfulness is a 'way of paying attention. It means consciously bringing awareness to our experience, in the present moment, without making judgements about it'. Students in the five control classes attended their normal religious studies lessons.

The training consisted of four 40 minute classes, one per week, which presented the principles and practice of mindfulness. The classes covered the concepts of awareness and acceptance, and taught the schoolboys such things as how to practice bodily awareness by noticing where they were in contact with their chairs or the floor, paying attention to their breathing, and noticing all the sensations involved in walking.

The students were also asked to practice outside the classroom and were encouraged to listen to a CD or mp3 file for eight minutes a day. These exercises are intended to improve concentration and reduce stress.

All participants completed a short series of online questionnaires before and after the mindfulness project. The questionnaires measured the effect of the training on changes in mindful awareness, resilience (the ability to modify responses to changing situations) and psychological well-being.

The researchers found that although it was a short programme, the students who participated in the mindfulness training had increased levels of well-being which were proportional to the amount of time the students spent practicing their new skills.

Professor Huppert continued: "We believe that the effects of mindfulness training can enhance well-being in a number of ways. If you practice being in the present, you can increase positive feelings by savouring pleasurable on-going experiences. Additionally, calming the mind and observing experiences with curiosity and acceptance not only reduces stress but helps with attention control and emotion regulation -- skills which are valuable both inside and outside the classroom."

The success of this initial study has recently led to the creation of an exciting 8 week mindfulness curriculum for schools in both the state and private sectors. This new curriculum, which includes games and video clips, should have even greater benefits.

For further information, see http://mindfulnessinschools.org.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901111720.htm

Early to bed and early to rise: it's keeping kids leaner

September 30, 2011

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Researchers recording the bedtimes and wake times of 2,200 Australian youths found that the night owls were 1.5 times more likely to become obese than the early birds, twice as likely to be physically inactive and 2.9 times more likely to sit in front of the TV and computer or play video games for more hours than guidelines recommend.

 

A study in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Sleep recorded the bedtimes and wake times of 2,200 Australian participants, ages 9 to 16, and compared their weights and uses of free time over four days. Children who went to bed late and got up late were 1.5 times more likely to become obese than those who went to bed early and got up early. Furthermore, late-nighters were almost twice as likely to be physically inactive and 2.9 times more likely to sit in front of the TV and computer or play video games for more hours than guidelines recommend.

 

"The children who went to bed late and woke up late, and the children who went to bed early and woke up early got virtually the same amount of sleep in total," said co-author Carol Maher, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow with the University of South Australia. "Scientists have realized in recent years that children who get less sleep tend to do worse on a variety of health outcomes, including the risk of being overweight and obese. Our study suggests that the timing of sleep is even more important."

 

Maher said mornings are more conducive to physical activity for young people than nights, which offer prime-time TV programming and social networking opportunities. This relationship between time of day and available activities might explain why more sedentary and screen-based behaviors were observed with later bedtimes, she said. At a time when research is showing that teenagers have a natural tendency to stay up late and wake late, the results of this study could stand as a warning.

 

"It is widely accepted that the sleep patterns of adolescents are fundamentally different from children and adults, and that it is normal for adolescents to stay up very late and sleep in late in the morning," Maher said. "Our findings show that this sleeping pattern is associated with unfavorable activity patterns and health outcomes, and that the adolescents who don't follow this sleep pattern do better."

 

Other findings from the University of South Australia study:

 

  • ·      Early-bed/early-risers went to bed 70 to 90 minutes earlier, woke up 60 to 80 minutes earlier and accumulated 27 minutes more moderate to vigorous physical activity each day than late-risers.

 

  • ·      Late-bed/late-risers watched TV, played video games or were online 48 minutes longer each day than early-bed/early risers, primarily between 7 p.m. and midnight.

 

  • ·      Only 12 percent of late-bed/late-risers had an average of two hours or less screen time per day, which is recommended for children and teens by the Australian Department of Health and Aging. In comparison, 28 percent of early-bed/early risers met the recommendation for screen time.

 

  • ·      On a broad scale, late-bed/late-risers replaced about 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity with 30 minutes of sedentary behavior each day, relative to the early-bed/early-rise group.

 

  • ·      Body-mass index (BMI) scores were higher in late-risers than early-risers, and late-risers were more likely to be overweight or obese.

 

  • ·      Late-bed/late-risers tended to have few siblings, live in major cities, come from lower household incomes and have a part-time job.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930052216.htm

Sleep Problems Linked to Obesity, Lower Quality of Life in School-Aged Children

June 10, 2008

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A research abstract that will be presented on June 10 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS), finds an increased prevalence of sleep problems among school-aged children who are obese and an association between increased weight and lower quality of life.

 

According to the results, children who were obese had poorer scores for sleep onset delay, sleep-disordered breathing, sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness, compared to children who were overweight or healthy weight. Weight category was a significant predictor of parent-reported physical, psychosocial, and total quality of life scores, as well as child-reported physical functioning scores. Weight category and sleep problem category were significant predictors of child-reported psychosocial and total quality of life scores.

 

While an increasing number of adults are considered obese, the number of obese children is also on the rise. Obesity can increase children's risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep-related breathing disorder that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. OSA, which can disturb your sleep numerous times on any given night, can result in daytime sleepiness, as well as an increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. OSA is a serious sleep disorder that can be harmful, or even fatal, if left untreated.

 

It is recommended that school-aged children get between 10-11 hours of nightly sleep and children in pre-school between 11-13 hours.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080610072004.htm

Running, cardio activities in young adulthood preserves thinking in middle age

April 2, 2014

Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology (AAN)

 

Young adults who run or participate in other cardio fitness activities may preserve their memory and thinking skills in middle age, according to a new study published in the April 2, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Middle age was defined as ages 43 to 55.

"Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health," said study author David R. Jacobs, Jr, PhD, with the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes."

Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of how well your body transports oxygen to your muscles, and how well your muscles are able to absorb the oxygen during exercise.

For the study, 2,747 healthy people with an average age of 25 underwent treadmill tests the first year of the study and then again 20 years later. Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured verbal memory, psychomotor speed (the relationship between thinking skills and physical movement) and executive function.

For the treadmill test, which was similar to a cardiovascular stress test, participants walked or ran as the speed and incline increased until they could not continue or had symptoms such as shortness of breath. At the first test, participants lasted an average of 10 minutes on the treadmill. Twenty years later, that number decreased by an average of 2.9 minutes. For every additional minute people completed on the treadmill at the first test, they recalled 0.12 more words correctly on the memory test of 15 words and correctly replaced 0.92 more numbers with meaningless symbols in the test of psychomotor speed 25 years later, even after adjusting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.

People who had smaller decreases in their time completed on the treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger decreases. Specifically, they were better able to correctly state ink color (for example, for the word "yellow" written in green ink, the correct answer was "green").

"These changes were significant, and while they may be modest, they were larger than the effect from one year of aging," Jacobs said. "Other studies in older individuals have shown that these tests are among the strongest predictors of developing dementia in the future. One study showed that every additional word remembered on the memory test was associated with an 18-percent decrease in the risk of developing dementia after 10 years."

"These findings are likely to help us earlier identify and consequently prevent or treat those at high risk of developing dementia," Jacobs said.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402162333.htm

Lower IQ and poorer fitness in teen years increase risk of early-onset dementia

March 10, 2014

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

 

Men who at the age of 18 years have poorer cardiovascular fitness and/or a lower IQ more often suffer from dementia before the age of 60. This is shown in a recent study encompassing more than one million Swedish men.

In several extensive studies, researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy of Gothenburg University have previously analyzed Swedish men's conscription results and were able to show a correlation between cardiovascular fitness as a teenager and health problems in later life.

Increased risk for early-onset dementia

In their latest study, based on data from 1.1 million young Swedish men, the Gothenburg researcher team shows that those with poorer cardiovascular fitness and/or lower IQ in their teenage years more often suffer from early-onset dementia.

"Previous studies have shown the correlation between cardiovascular fitness and the risk of dementia in old age. Now, for the first time, we can show that the increased risk also applies to early-onset dementia and its precursors," says Sahlgrenska Academy researcher Jenny Nyberg, who headed the study.

Controlled for other risk factors

Expressed in figures, the study shows that men who when conscripted had poorer cardiovascular fitness were 2.5 times more likely to develop early-onset dementia later in life. A lower IQ entailed a 4 times greater risk, and a combination of both poor cardiovascular fitness and low IQ entailed a 7 times greater risk of early-onset dementia.

The increased risk remained even when controlled for other risk factors, such as heredity, medical history, and social-economic circumstances.

Fitness strengthens the brain

"We already knew that physical and cognitive exercise reduces the risk of neurological disease. Physical exercise increases nerve cell complexity and function and even generation of new nerve cells in the adult brain, which strengthens our mental and physiological functions. In other words, good cardiovascular fitness makes the brain more resistant to damage and disease," says Prof. Georg Kuhn, senior author of the study.

Overlooked group

People who develop early-onset dementia are often of working age and can have children still living at home, which means the consequences for both the sufferers and their families are even more serious. Despite this, patients with early-onset dementia are a relatively overlooked group.

"This makes it important to initiate more research into how physical and mental exercise can affect the prevalence of different types of dementia. Perhaps exercise can be used as both a prophylactic and a treatment for those in the risk zone for early-onset dementia," says Nyberg.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102208.htm

Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries

Oct. 21, 2012

Science Daily/American Academy of Pediatrics

Adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less, according to an abstract presented Oct. 21, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

 

For the abstract, "Lack of Sleep is Associated with Increased Risk of Injury in Adolescent Athletes," researchers asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) enrolled at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics (at school and through other programs), whether they used a private coach, whether they participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average each night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation. Seventy percent of the student athletes (112 out of 160 students; 54 males and 58 females; mean age 15) completed the survey, conducted in conjunction with Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Researchers then reviewed those students' school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.

 

Hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury, according to the study results. In addition, the higher the grade level of the athlete, the greater the likelihood of injury -- 2.3 times greater for each additional grade in school. Gender, weeks of participating in sports per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports, strength training, private coaching and subjective assessments of "having fun in sports" were not significantly associated with injury.

 

"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population," said study author Matthew Milewski, MD.

 

"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. Instead, "what we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."

 

The advanced age risk may reflect a cumulative risk for injury after playing three or four years at the high school level, Milewski said, and older athletes are bigger, faster and stronger.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121021102814.htm

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