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DiversityNursing Blog

Pre-babbling Babies Prefer Baby Sounds To Adult Sounds

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 12:02 PM

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD 

four infants on a rug resized 600A new study that offers insights into early language development suggests babies prefer listening to other babies rather than adults as they get ready to produce their own speech sounds.

The study, led by McGill University in Canada and published in the journal Developmental Science, observed the reactions of infants aged from 4-6 months who were not yet attempting speech, as they listened to baby-like and adult-like sounds produced by a voice synthesizer.

They found when the vowel sounds the babies listened to sounded more baby-like (for instance, higher pitch), the infants paid attention longer than when the sounds had more adult-like vocal properties.

Previous studies have shown that children at this age are more attracted to vocal sounds with a higher voice pitch, the authors note in their paper.

The team says the finding is important because being attracted to infant speech sounds may be a key step in babies being able to find their own voice - it may help to kick-start the process of learning how to talk.

They say the discovery increases our understanding of the complex link between speech perception and speech production in young infants.

It may also lead to new ways to help hearing-impaired children who may be struggling to develop language skills, they note.

Baby-like sounds held infants' attention nearly 42% longer

For the study, the team used a voice synthesizer to create a set of vowel sounds that mimicked either the voice of a baby or the voice of a woman.

They then ran a series of experiments where they played the vowel sounds one at a time to the babies as they sat on their mother's lap and listened. They measured the length of time each vowel sound held the infants' attention.

The results showed that, on average, baby-like sounds held the infants' attention nearly 42% longer than the adult-like sounds.

The researchers note that this finding is unlikely to be a result of the babies having a particular preference for a familiar sound because they were not yet producing those sounds themselves - they were not yet part of their everyday experience.

Some of the infants showed their interest in other ways. For example, when they listened to the adult sounds, their faces remained fairly passive and neutral. In contrast, when they heard the baby-like sounds, they became more animated, moved their mouths and smiled.

The following video shows how one of the infants - baby Camille, who is not yet babbling herself - reacts to the various sounds. Every time she looks away, the sound is replaced by another. Her reactions show which sounds she seems to like the most.

Babies need to 'find their own voice'

The researchers say maybe the babies recognized that the baby-like sounds were more like sounds they could make themselves - despite not having heard them before.

The findings may also explain the instinct some people have when they automatically speak to infants in baby-like, high-pitched tones, says senior author Linda Polka, a professor in McGill's School of Communication Disorders, who adds:

"As adults, we use language to communicate. But when a young infant starts to make speech sounds, it often has more to do with exploring than with communicating."

Prof. Polka says babies often try speaking when they are on their own, without eye contact or interaction with others. She explains:

"That's because to learn how to speak babies need to spend lots of time moving their mouths and vocal cords to understand the kind of sounds they can make themselves. They need, quite literally, to 'find their own voice.'"

Funds for the study came from the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council.

Meanwhile, parents and schools looking for ways to encourage children to eat more healthily may be interested in a study carried out among kindergarten through sixth-grade students at an inner-city school in Cincinnati, OH. There, researchers discovered that children found healthy food more appealing when linked to smiley faces and other small incentives. The low-cost intervention led to a 62% rise in vegetable purchases and a 20% rise in fruit purchases.

Topics: learning, studies, infants, health, healthcare, research, medical, communication, newborns, babies, sounds, speech

Pets May Help Improve Social Skills Of Children With Autism

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 01:26 PM

By Carolyn Gregoire

n LITTLE GIRL DOG large570 resized 600

Having a family pet can be beneficial for child development in a number of ways, including keeping kids active and promoting empathy, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility. But dogs may be particularly beneficial for kids with autism, acting as a "social lubricant" that helps them build assertiveness and confidence in their interactions with others, according to new research from the University of Missouri. 

The researchers surveyed 70 families with autistic children between the ages of eight and 18, all of whom were patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Nearly 70 percent of the participating families had dogs, half had cats, and some owned other pets including fish, rodents, rabbits, reptiles and birds. 

The study's lead author Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the University of Missouri, observed that autistic children are were likely to engage socially in social situations where pets were present. While previous research has focused specially on the ways that dogs benefit the development of autistic children, Carlisle found that pets of any type were beneficial for the childrens' social skills.

"When I compared the social skills of children with autism who lived with dogs to those who did not, the children with dogs appeared to have greater social skills," Carlisle said in a statement. "More significantly, however, the data revealed that children with any kind of pet in the home reported being more likely to engage in behaviors such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to other people's questions. These kinds of social skills typically are difficult for kids with autism, but this study showed children's assertiveness was greater if they lived with a pet."

Carlisle observed the strongest attachments between the children and small dogs, although parents also reported strong attachments between their children and other pets, such as cats and rabbits. 

“Dogs are good for some kids with autism but might not be the best option for every child,” Carlisle said. “Kids with autism are highly individual and unique, so some other animals may provide just as much benefit as dogs. Though parents may assume having dogs are best to help their children, my data show greater social skills for children with autism who live in homes with any type of pet.”

Carlisle's research joins a body of work demonstrating the benefits of animal interaction among autistic children. A 2013 review of studies found that specially trained dogs, horses and other animals can facilitate increased social interaction and improved communication among autistic children, as well as decreased stress and problem behavior. 


Topics: learning, study, animals, health, healthcare, research, children, medical, communication, autism, dogs, skills

Can Fast Food Hinder Learning in Kids?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

FSF050 resized 600A steady diet of fast food might hurt your child in the classroom, a new study finds.

Kids who frequently ate fast food in fifth grade lagged behind by eighth grade, said researchers who reviewed questionnaires and test scores of more than 8,500 U.S. students.

"The largest effects were found for the kids who reported daily consumption of fast food," said study leader Kelly Purtell, assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State University. "On average they were scoring three or four points lower than the kids who did not report eating fast food at all in the past week." 

The researchers compared academic test scores in reading, math and science for fifth and eighth grade and looked at the students' responses to food questions on a national survey. 

On average, test scores increased 16 to 19 points, depending on the subject, Purtell said.

But kids who ate fast food the most had test-score gains of up to 20 percent less than those who never ate fast food, she found.

The study was published online this month in Clinical Pediatrics

More than two-thirds of the students surveyed reported some fast-food intake. And one in five had eaten at least four fast-food meals in the previous week, the survey found.

The amount of fast food consumed corresponded with eighth-grade scores, even after researchers took into account for physical activity, TV watching, income levels and school characteristics, Purtell said.

The proliferation of fast food is already a concern because of America's obesity epidemic.

However, the study can't prove the fast food caused the lower scores, only that the two were linked, Purtell noted. Still, other research has linked high-sugar and high-fat diets with an adverse effect on learning processes requiring attention, she said.

Although researchers can't explain the tie-in for sure, it's also possible that those with a fast-food habit may not get the nutrients needed for good learning, she suggested.

Experts aren't recommending you ban all fast foods on the basis of this one report, but they do advise moderation.

"It is premature to presume that frequent fast-food consumption will compromise one's later academic functioning," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, who wasn't involved in the study.

"Although this study found an association between frequently eating fast food and weaker academic performance a year later, we cannot be certain that the observed differences were due to nutritional factors and not other variables," he said.

Still, it's advisable to "encourage kids to go slow when it comes to fast food" to preserve health and good nutrition, Adesman added.

More research is needed, he said, to determine what impact fast food has on students' learning potential.

In the meantime, Purtell said, "I don't think the occasional fast meal is anything to worry about." Once a week or less might be a good goal, she suggested.


Topics: learning, kids, fast food, harmful, healthy lifestyle, lifestyle choices, classroom, youth, pediatrics, nursing, health, healthcare, children, diet, medical, food, physicians

Top CE courses that build confidence

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Tue, Feb 05, 2013 @ 01:58 PM


describe the imageConfidence is a key factor in successful healthcare practice. Not only will you give better patient care when you’re more confident, but you’ll also enjoy giving care that is not hindered by second-guessing yourself. Knowledge is power! Here are a few CE courses essential for improving your basic knowledge and confidence:

1. Conflict Management

Face it: Conflict is impossible to avoid, especially in healthcare settings where tension runs high and patient outcomes may involve death. Do you know how to effectively address conflict among your peers, management and support staff? Hint: Avoidance doesn’t work. Learn how to manage conflict in a professional manner and your confidence will soar!

2. Time Management Strategies

Ever been so busy during a shift that you drive home with the nagging feeling you forgot something? Time management is essential to decreasing feelings of being overwhelmed and sloppy. This course will outline various time management methods and help you identify your own barriers to effective time management.

3. Team Building

As much as we sometimes hate to admit it, we need the assistance of our coworkers. Think about it. Are you more confident when you feel left alone to handle everything? Or are you more confident when you know your peers will jump in and help when needed? Do you know how to improve the team mentality on your unit? Having team building skills will not only improve productivity and patient safety, but also you’ll be in a better position to enjoy showing up for shift with a positive and calm attitude.

4. Medical Terminology 101

Did you ever read through doctors’ or radiologists’ notes and say to yourself, “Sounds like Greek to me!” Well, it just may be. While medical words rely heavily on Latin origins, the terminology also uses “pieces” from the Greek language. Taking a terminology course will help you memorize medical terms by body system. At the end of the day, patient chart comprehension will definitely improve your confidence!

5. Phlebotomy Basics

If you’re a seasoned nurse or provider, you may or may not be 100% up to speed in your phlebotomy or intravenous access skills. This course helps practitioners at all levels of experience review the principles of safe and appropriate venipuncture, including identifying patients and reporting critical levels of laboratory results.

Topics: learning, knowledge, nurse, CE course, confidence, top, best

Training for nurses goes high-tech at George Washington University

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 @ 12:21 PM

by Crystal Owens


Years ago, nursing students would practice on each other to learn to provide care to patients.

They would inject each other with IVs and give shots to oranges.

But technology has provided training in the way of computerized manikins, designed to simulate almost any situation a student would encounter once they enter the workforce.

At The George Washington University campus in Loudoun, nursing students are provided training that goes far beyond the textbook.

The state-of-the-art nursing lab is filled with every computerized manikin a student might encounter, from pediatrics to obstetrics to general health care.

“The trend in nursing education and health care is safety of patients. We play into that in multiple levels in the nursing education field. Simulation has become an even greater part of that in order to be able to provide contextual learning for nursing students,” said Christine Seaton, clinical educator-instructor at GWU’s Loudoun campus.

The current class learning in the lab has 48 students. A new class of 44 began this week. In all, the school has graduated three classes, including the last one of 65 students. 
Students spend two semesters at the school before going on to their clinical settings.

The growth of health care simulation

Simulation has been around for health care students in a variety of fields for years, Seaton said, but it was usually for those looking to become certified as doctors. For nurses, simulation has been going strong for about 10 years, but the manikins were not nearly as complex as they are today.

“It depends on [the school’s] resources, how much they are able to provide … and the hospital because hospitals are able to train their staff using simulation,” Seaton said. 
Students start the program with the basics – how to provide outpatient assessments such as blood pressure, body temperatures and heart rates –  and progress to more complex situations, Seaton said.


Once they’ve mastered the basics, it’s on to the high-fidelity manikins – those that have computerized functions that can express pain, the sounds of lungs, bowels and the heart and simulate everything from vomiting to a seizure to childbirth and childbirth complications. The manikins have IVs in them complete with drains to provide realistic assessment details needed in a learning situation.

“We have a diversity. We like them to see the diversity not only culturally, gender, age and in the fidelity – the complexity of what the manikin can do,” Seaton said.

One manikin is named for Minnie Paxton, the supervisor for GWU’s nursing school in the 1920s. The school had to close during the Great Depression during her tenure.

Paxton is one of the manikins students see from the beginning, Seaton said, with the fundamentals all the way through their capstone experience before they go on to preceptorship – where students chose a nursing specialty and have one-on-one training with staff members in a real hospital setting.

Instructors sit in a control room and throw simulations at the students. For example, one student might believe their patient is taken care of, but instructors want to see how they act under stress. So they make the manikin’s blood pressure spike or simulate a heart attack.

“We’ll embed errors for them to find and to know that they should paying attention,” Seaton said.

Seaton, to check her students’ skills, will even sneak around and saturate a patient’s wound with fake blood to teach them to check dressings often.

The control rooms allow instructors to video tape the students in action and later replay the scenarios, pointing out mistakes that can be corrected.

Instructors will also live-stream to the classrooms so other students can see their peers’ performance.

Even at a simulated nursing station within the classrooms, students are watched from behind glass windows. Instructors want to see how students are utilizing their time, Seaton said.

The school runs a virtual hospital, where eight to nine students take care of their own manikin patients at a time.

Communication and home health care skills

Training goes beyond just knowing how to properly use medical equipment.

“A lot of it is also knowing how to communicate because communication is key in nursing as well. We’ll have them communicate with each other. We’ll have them phone as if they’re talking to physicians and learning how to provide essential details for effective care,” Seaton said.

Students also are exposed to community health settings where they evaluate a patient in a home setting.

“A lot of the trends in health care is to provide care in the home,” Seaton said. “It’s a very definite of the future.”

Health care professionals are seeing more patients in home settings because hospital stays are become shorter as medical expenses increase, said Billinda Tebbenhoff, assistant professor at GWU’s School of Nursing. Patients simply can’t afford to stay as long as they need to get complete care.

Mental health is also become more home-based, Tebbenhoff said, because many hospitals have shut down or provide only forensic beds.

“It’s amazing what people go home with … drains and IVs and medications and families are overwhelmed. I think nursing will see a huge push to community-based care,” she said. 
The school is looking also to begin a bridge program for military veterans that specialized in health care in the fall, Seaton said.

“Many of graduates are either EMTs, paramedics and they’re coming back. They may have a degree already, but they’re coming back for the BSN and to go forward even more for bachelor’s or doctorate degrees,” she said.

The biggest goal for the school, Seaton said, is to make sure students comfortable and ready for the workforce.

“The essences of where nursing education is is combining what they learn in the classroom, how they do in the experiential, the kind of learning they can’t necessarily get as frequently as they used to get in the hospitals many years ago,” Seaton said.


Topics: learning, George Washington University, health care simulation, technology, training, nurses

Online nurse training enables long distance learning

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, Dec 10, 2012 @ 03:29 PM

By Dr. Sapna Parikh 


New technology is helping medical professionals learn from each other, even though they're 1,500 miles apart.

A patient has chills and a fever. Students at Columbia University School of Nursing discuss the diagnosis with their classmates. But they also talk to people in a little box--the medical team at a clinic in La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

Norma Hannigan said she got the idea while she was at the clinic last April. Why not discuss medical cases and learn from each other?

"We're a little stronger on the primary care chronic illness end of the spectrum, and they're much stronger on the infectious disease," Hannigan, an assistant professor of clinical nursing.

The students were presented a patient with diabetes and everyone had to figure out how they'd solve it together.

"The way we manage the case here versus the way they would manage the case in the Dominican Republic is very different," Stephanie Paine, a nurse practitioner student, explained.

It was surprising to learn, for example, they almost never do a test called Hemoglobin A1C. It's too expensive, but in the U.S., that test is done for diabetics all the time.

Students can also learn about cultural differences. In Washington Heights, many of the residents are from the Dominican Republic.

"It's a way to improve the way we treat patients," said Dr. Leonel Lerebours, the medical director of La Clinica de Familia in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

Lerebours says they have learned to work with fewer resources.

"We rely more on clinical features than lab," he said.

This is the first long distance webinar, but they say it won't be the last.

"Maybe incorporate more people from the school of public health from the school of medicine," Hannigan suggested.

"It's really good," Martha Yepes said. "We're able to have this exchange, especially with the technology that we have now."

There were, of course, some technical challenges; the connection was slow at times, and it's hard to capture excitement or enthusiasm when you're doing it over the web.

But there were also funny moments. Where what we consider a problem here, La Romana's medical team thinks it's normal.

Topics: learning, student nurse, technology, training, online

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