Saturday January 18, 2020

Nature Therapy Can Reduce Distress, Behavioural Problems in Kids

The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children

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Does your child often feel stressed and depressed? A walk in the woods is likely to improve his/her mood, researchers said.

The study, led by a team from the University of Hong Kong, revealed that children who developed a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity and had a healthy lifestyle with regard to active play and eating habits.

They also had fewer behavioural and emotional difficulties, as well as improved pro-social behaviour.

However, despite the extensive, adjacent greenness, many families are not using these areas, the researchers rued in the paper published in the PLOS ONE journal.

“We noticed a tendency where parents are avoiding nature. They perceive it as dirty and dangerous, and their children unfortunately pick up these attitudes,” said Tanja Sobko from the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

Kids play skip rope on Morro Strand State Beach. Flickr

In addition, the green areas are often unwelcoming with signs like “Keep off the grass”, Sobko added.

Recent research shows that spending time with nature may bring many health benefits, and many environmental programmes around the world are trying to decrease ‘nature-deficit’ and ‘child-nature disconnectedness’ in order to improve children’s health.

For the study, the team prepared a new 16-item parent questionnaire (CNI-PPC) to measure “connectedness to nature’ in very young children. The questionnaire identified four areas that reflect the child-nature relationship: enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility towards nature and awareness of nature.

Also Read- Soothing Colours, Right Scent Aid Sound Sleep

The results give a new possibility for investigating the link between the outdoor environment and well-being in pre-school children.

The team further plans to test the effect of exposing children to nature and changes in their gut microbiota. (IANS)

Next Story

Air Pollution, Stress Associated with Thought Problems in Kids: Researchers

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function

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Pollution, pollutants, India, air pollution, WHO, diwali
Delhi air quality continues to be 'very poor'. VOA

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.

Stress
Stress is increasingly becoming a dreaded phenomenon. Lifetime Stock

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.

Also Read: Apple Planning to Release ‘The Banker’ in Theaters This March

The researchers said that PAH and early life stress may serve as a “double hit” on shared biological pathways connected to attention and thought problems.

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function.

The mechanism underlying the effects of PAH is still being interrogated; however, alterations in brain structure and function represent possible shared mechanistic pathways, the study said. (IANS)