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Study: Fathers’ Lifestyles Can Affect Health of Unborn Babies

Education News – Grace Smith

“For decades, expectant mothers have been cautioned about smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol, but now an expanding body of research suggests that men who are trying to have children should be just as careful as mothers. Carina Storrs, writing for CNN, reports that what fathers are exposed to can also have lasting effects on their youngsters’ health…If a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol crosses the placenta and can result in inferior coordination, delays in cognitive development, heart defects, and low birth weight. But research over the past ten years suggests that fathers who drink alcohol regularly before conceiving also increase the risk of their child having fetal alcohol syndrome. In fact, alcoholism or heavy drinking by men before conceiving has been linked to as many as 75% of affected babies. Drinking, smoking, or engaging in other risky behaviors seem to mark their progeny through epigenetics, which are the biological processes that finely adjust genes without mutating them.”(more)

Essay contributes to national study on foreign language learning

Penn State News – Kristie Auman-Bauer

“Society is becoming increasingly multilingual and more engaged around the globe — yet as many as 80 percent of Americans speak only one language, compared to 50 percent of Europeans over the age of 15 who can converse in a second language.
 To help address this issue, two Penn State researchers were recently commissioned to write an essay on the consequences of multilingualism…Kroll and Dussias’s essay, “What are the Benefits of Multilingualism to the Personal and Professional Development of Residents of this Country?” is the first to be posted on the commission’s website and dispels many of the criticisms of multilingualism in the U.S…recent research indicates multilingualism provides multiple benefits to individuals of all ages. “Young babies are not confused by hearing two or more languages and actually are more open to new learning languages,” Kroll reported. “Adult learners also have the ability to acquire a second language…Multilingualism changes the brain in positive ways across the lifespan.””(more)

Can Early Exposure To Music Be Key To Learning Second Language?

Puerto Vallarta Daily News – Christina Zhao

“Growing up in China, I started playing piano when I was nine years old and learning English when I was 12. Later, when I was a college student, it struck me how similar language and music are to each other. Language and music both require rhythm; otherwise they don’t make any sense. They’re also both built from smaller units – syllables and musical beats. And the process of mastering them is remarkably similar, including precise movements, repetitive practice and focused attention. I also noticed that my musician peers were particularly good at learning new languages. All of this made me wonder if music shapes how the brain perceives sounds other than musical notes. And if so, could learning music help us learn languages?”(more)

Bilingual babies ‘learn languages faster’

The Straits Times – Amelia Teng

“Babies exposed to two languages at the same time can master the rules of each language faster than monolingual babies, a new study by National University of Singapore (NUS) psychologists has found. They are able to differentiate between English and Chinese, and hearing both languages in their first year does not confuse them…The study’s findings are reassuring for parents concerned that exposing their infants to two languages would confuse them, or delay development in one language, said Prof Singh. The study found that bilingual babies have a six-month head start compared with their monolingual peers…”(more)

The benefits of being bilingual can be seen in 11-month-old babies

Science Alert – Peter Dockrill

“Numerous studies point to the benefits of speaking more than one language, with research showing that bilingual adults have a higher volume of grey matter and could recover more easily from brain injuries. Scientists have also found that the positive effects of bilingualism can be seen in young children, but a new study suggests that the benefits of exposing a person to more than one language can be seen even when we’re just a few months old…”The 11-month-old baby brain is learning whatever language or languages are present in the environment and is equally capable of learning two languages as it is of learning one language,” said Ferjan Ramírez. “Our results underscore the notion that not only are very young children capable of learning multiple languages, but that early childhood is the optimum time for them to begin.””(more)

BMI baby: infants should have Body Mass Index checked at six months

The Telegraph – Sarah Knapton

“Babies should be given BMI tests at six months old after doctors found it is possible to identify those most at risk of becoming dangerously overweight. Researchers used simple Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements to single out infants destined to struggle with weight in later life. Study leader Dr Allison Smego, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the US, said: “These children have a high lifetime risk for persistent obesity and metabolic disease and should be monitored closely at a very young age.”…”Our hope in using this tool is that we can prevent obesity in early childhood.””(more)