Originally created 03/14/03

Family briefs

Trying to get pregnant?

New research may change the rationale behind when couples should time intercourse when trying to conceive, according to an article in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Researchers from the University of Utah reviewed new data that examined the timing of intercourse relative to the estimated day a woman ovulates. They found that a woman is most likely to become pregnant one to two days prior to ovulation rather than on the actual day of ovulation, as popularly believed.

In addition, researchers found that either a commercial fertility monitor or techniques that chart fertility based on changes in vaginal discharge were most effective in determining the optimal window of fertility. Traditional methods such as monitoring basal body temperature and using menstrual calendar calculations are not as reliable, they said.

Diaper changes

According to a recent poll by Parents.com, 35 percent of households said Mom usually changes the baby's diaper, 2 percent said Dad usually does it, and 63 percent said the responsibility falls to "whoever gets the first whiff."

Baby walkers

Besides being the cause of countless injuries, baby walkers are garnering more negative press: They may slow infant motor development.

An Irish study published in the British Medical Journal investigated the age at which infants reached developmental milestones such as crawling and walking, comparing those who used baby walkers with those who did not.

Researchers found that crawling, standing alone and walking alone occurred later among baby-walker users, and the extent of delay was directly proportional to the amount of walker use. For every 24 hours of walker use, there was a 3.3-day delay in walking alone and a 3.7-day delay in standing alone.

Adolescent depression

Adolescent depression appears to be more common among girls than boys, according to researchers from San Diego State University.

Researchers reviewed over 300 studies conducted between 1980 and 1998. The cumulative research, reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, involved more than 16,000 children and adolescents.

They found that depression scores among girls were lower than among boys between the ages of 8 and 11 and tended to remain stable until the age of 12, when they increased, reaching a peak number of depressive symptoms at 15.

The spike could be because girls' bodies "are undergoing changes that their parents, peers, and culture seem ambivalent about," said Jean Twenge and Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the study's authors.

More teens online

Census Bureau data indicate that between 1998 and 2001, the proportion of teens (ages 14-17) using the Internet increased from 51 percent to 75 percent. The proportion of "tweens" online (ages 10-13) increased from 39 percent to 65 percent. Teens with Internet access at home typically spend 46 minutes each day online-almost as much as reading books (49 minutes), playing video games (55 minutes) or talking on the telephone (60 minutes).

Braille Bug

The American Foundation for the Blind is letting its Braille Bug loose on the Internet.

The Braille Bug, an animated ladybug with six dots of the Braille cell on her back, greets children, both sighted and visually impaired, to the new interactive channel on the AFB's Web site. She also helps them understand the "code" of Braille.

Children can type in any word and see it on their screen in simulated Braille, play trivia or word jumble games and they can send messages to each other in simulated Braille (the receiver gets an e-mail alerting them to a "secret message").

"All kids are fascinated by Braille; they think it's a secret code that's fun to learn," says Frances Mary D'Andrea, director of AFB's National Literacy Center in Atlanta.

"The Braille Bug gives sighted children a chance to learn more about the Braille code and how classmates who are blind or visually impaired learn to read and do math. It also reinforces the idea that visually impaired children are more like them than different ... which can only help foster a better understanding acceptance of people with disabilities," says D'Andrea.

Check out the sitie at www.afb.org/braillebug/


Most children can recite their ABCs at a very young age, but Harriette S. Brown, a former special education teacher who has a private practice for reading and other learning issues in Mahopac, N.Y., says toddlers also should be learning the sounds of the alphabet.

Phonics, according to Brown, are the fundamental building blocks of reading that can help decode words, providing a great foundation for learning any reading program taught in schools.

By learning phonics, children learn to figure out words for themselves.Brown, working with psychologist Bernice B. Bernhard, developed a picture-letter-card learning program called Read-Now, which is sold on the Internet. A phonic-rap CD also is available.

Brown offers these tips to encourage pre-readers to learn letter sounds.-Make letter posters by writing a letter in the center of a piece of poster board and have the child look through magazines to find pictures of objects that begin with that letter sound; paste pictures around the letter.

-In the car, pick a letter sound and have the child come up with words that begin with that sound. For example, say "I'm thinking of words that begin with Œbuh."'

-Cut out pairs of pictures from magazines that begin with the same sound and scatter them on the table. Ask the child to match up the pictures that begin with the same sound. Start with a handful of letters and increase the challenge by adding more letter sounds.


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