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Archive for June, 2005

June 30, 2005

Many Kids Think They Can Smoke Without Addiction

(Health Behavior News Service) — One-third of children enrolled in a family smoking prevention program believed they could smoke without becoming addicted, according to a new study. Yet, overall, the researchers found most of the children generally had negative attitudes about smoking.

The findings, published in the July/August issue of American Journal of Health Promotion, show that it is important for health promotion experts “to find ways to help youth realize how easy it is to become addicted to tobacco, the value of never starting, and that the risks of smoking far outweigh any perceived benefits,” say Terry Bush, Ph.D., of the Group Health Cooperative’s Center for Health Studies in Seattle, and colleagues.

Fewer than 10 percent of the children believed that smoking could help one relax or lose weight. The children were most likely to believe that smoking “can help people feel more comfortable at parties,” Bush says.

The belief that they “would be able to quit smoking anytime they wanted,” was held by 24 percent of the 10 to 12 year olds.

“We found very low rates of favorable attitudes about smoking among preteens,” the researcher wrote of the 418 families in the study.

The researchers found that children were most likely to have positive beliefs about smoking if they came from less cohesive families — those whose members spent less time communicating with one another or planning activities together and in which parents were generally less involved with their children’s lives.

Among the 281 children age 10 to 12 who had some positive feelings about tobacco at the start of the study, 43 percent reported fewer positive feelings and 28 percent had more positive feelings about tobacco 20 months later.

Parental smoking was the main factor influencing whether children would think more highly of tobacco a year and a half after the study began, the researchers found.

Despite this, Bush and colleagues did not find any evidence that parents’ attitudes toward tobacco, aside from actual smoking habits, influenced their children’s feelings about smoking.

“The lack of association between parental attitudes about smoking and preteen attitudes about smoking has not, to our knowledge, been previously reported,” Bush says.

The families in the study were chosen at random from participants in a large smoking prevention program administered by two health maintenance organizations in the northwestern United States. Families received a parent handbook, a videotape about youth smoking, pens, stickers and a comic book with antismoking messages, regular outreach from counselors and smoking prevention messages from their primary care physicians.

Bush and colleagues say their study is unusual in that it looks at children as young as 10 years old. Robin Mermelstein, Ph.D., deputy director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says most similar studies focus on older children for a variety of reasons.

“One important reason is that most youth first experiment with smoking after age 10. Thus, researchers tend to be more concerned about measuring attitudes that might predict the behavior of interest, experimenting and progressing with tobacco use, relatively close in time to the behavior,” she says.

It can be difficult, she adds, to determine exactly how younger children feel about smoking, making regular surveys that examine behavior and beliefs less useful.

The relative lack of research on children is instead a reflection of “our ability to tap into them and measure fine distinctions,” Mermelstein says.

“None of this means that young children don’t have well developed attitudes at those ages,” she notes.

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

June 24, 2005

Dad’s Depression May Affect Child

Filed under: Children Psychology,Clinical Psychology,Western Europe — Admin @ 10:40 am

(The Lancet) — Children whose fathers have had postnatal depression, have an increased risk of behavioural and emotional problems in early life, suggests a study published in this week’s issue of The Lancet.

The researchers found the effect was the same even after they controlled for other factors that could influence a child’s development.

Depression is common and frequently affects mothers and fathers of young children. Postnatal depression in mothers affects the quality of maternal care, and can lead to disturbances in their children’s social, behavioural, cognitive and physical development.

However, little is known about the effect of depression in fathers during the early years of a child’s life.

Paul Ramchandani (University of Oxford, UK) and colleagues studied over 13,500 mothers, from the Bristol area of the UK, taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Over 12,800 participants had partners.

Mothers and fathers were assessed 8 weeks after the birth of their baby using a well-validated questionnaire for postnatal depression. The fathers were assessed again at 21 months.

The researchers also measured the disturbance of the children’s emotional and behavioural development at age 3.5 years from a questionnaire filled out by the mothers.

They found that paternal depression was linked to adverse emotional and behavioural problems in children, particularly boys. The effects remained even after the researchers took into account maternal postnatal depression and later paternal depression.

Dr. Ramchandani concludes: “Our findings indicate that paternal depression has a specific and persisting detrimental effect on their children’s early behavioural and emotional development.”

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