Do you think bilingualism will benefit your kids in any way? Think twice. A new study suggests that although speaking more than one language can provide social opportunities along the way, bilingual children are not necessarily more advantageous than monolingual ones when it comes to executive functions.
Executive function includes remembering instructions, controlling responses, and shifting swiftly between tasks.
“The research of executive functions is important because they have direct application to success in both real-life and academic situations,” said Julia Jaekel, associate professor from the University of Tennessee in the US.
For the study, the team examined 337 children aged five and 15 among which the first group spoke both Turkish and German and the other group spoke only German.
They used a computer test to compare the executive function of two groups of children.
The results, published in PLOS ONE, showed no difference in the executive functions of the two groups.
In addition, the researchers considered children’s German and Turkish vocabulary size and exposure to both languages.
However, it is important to continue the research on this topic so parents, educators, and policymakers do not overpromise on the benefits of speaking a second language, noted Nils Jaekel, clinical assistant professor at the varsity. (IANS)
Parents, please take note. Researchers have revealed that kids with elevated exposure to early life stress in the home and increased prenatal exposure to air pollution exhibited heightened symptoms of attention and thought problems.
Early life stress is common in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who also often live in areas with greater exposure to air pollution, according to the study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
“Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a neurotoxicant common in air pollution, seems to magnify or sustain the effects of early life social and economic stress on mental health in children,” said study first author David Pagliaccio from Columbia University in the US.
“Air pollutants are common in our environment, particularly in cities, and given socioeconomic inequities and environmental injustice, children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances are more likely to experience both life stress and exposure to neurotoxic chemicals,” said senior author Amy Margolis.
Air pollution has negative effects on physical health, and recent work has begun to also show the effects on mental health. Life stress, particularly in early life, is one of the best-known contributors to mental health problems.
This new study examined the combined effects of air pollution and early life stress on school-age children.
According to the researchers data were collected from the CCCEH Mothers and Newborns longitudinal birth cohort study in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, which includes many participants who self-identify as African American or Dominican.
Mothers wore an air monitoring backpack during the third trimester of pregnancy to measure exposure to air pollutants in their daily lives.
When their children were 5 years old, mothers reported on stress in their lives, including neighbourhood quality, material hardship, intimate partner violence, perceived stress, lack of social support, and general distress levels.
Mothers then reported on their child’s psychiatric symptoms at ages 5, 7, 9 and 11.
The combined effect of air pollution and early life stress was seen across several measures of thought and attention problems/ADHD at the age 11.
The effects were also linked to PAH-DNA adducts–a dose-sensitive marker of air pollution exposure.