Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Pediatrics / 03.02.2019 Interview with: Sheri Madigan, Ph.D, R.Psych Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute University of Calgary What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Parents are reporting that screen time is one of their major concerns, so we wanted to find out more about how large of a role screen time was playing on children’s developmental outcomes. We were especially interested in the long-term impact of screens, which is why we followed children over time, from ages 2 to 5 and repeatedly assessed both screen time use and children’s achievement of developmental milestones. There are three main findings:
  1. Our study revealed that on average children were viewing screens for 2.4, 3.6 and 1.6 hours per day at two, three and five years of age, respectively. This means that the majority of the participants in our sample are exceeding the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guideline.
  2. We found statistically significant, albeit small effects suggesting that greater amounts of screen time at two and three years predict poorer child outcomes at three and five years, respectively. Thus, screen time has a lasting influence on children’s development.
  3. The opposite pattern was not observed. That is, we did not find evidence that children showing poor performance in terms of achieving developmental milestones were more likely to be place in front of screens to help cope with their potentially challenging behaviors.
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics, Surgical Research / 08.11.2018 Interview with: "Anesthesia" by Liran Szeiman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0James D. O’Leary, MD Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Child Health Evaluative Sciences The Hospital for Sick Children Department of Anesthesia, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is substantial evidence from laboratory studies that the developing brain is susceptible to injury from general anesthetic drugs, which culminated in the US Food Drug Administration issuing a safety communication in 2017 stating that the use of general anaesthetic drugs “for lengthy periods of time or over multiple surgeries or procedures may negatively affect brain development in children younger than 3 years”. Considering the substantial number of children who require general anesthesia every year (almost 3 million in the US annually) even small differences in child development outcomes after surgical procedures that require general anesthesia may have significant public health implications. Undertaking studies of anesthesia-related neurotoxicity in humans is difficult as adverse child development is a function of the complex interaction between many risk and protective factors. By examining differences between biological siblings in Ontario, Canada, this study seeks to mitigate differences in risk from biological vulnerability and environmental factors, to provide a more accurate estimate of the adverse effects of anesthesia and surgery on child development. In the current study, young children who had surgical procedures that require general anesthesia were not found to be at increased risk of adverse child development outcomes compared to their biological siblings who did not have surgery. These findings further support that exposure to anesthesia and surgery in early childhood is not associated with detectable adverse child development outcomes. (more…)