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Human infants are remarkable learners. Although they are born with very limited knowledge about the world around them, by the end of the second year of life they demonstrate highly sophisticated reasoning abilities and a robust understanding of the physical and social world. Despite recent discoveries in what infants know, important questions still exist surrounding how they come to know it. In this chapter, I explore one mechanism that spurs early learning – a drive to seek out information through preverbal gestures. To do so, I first review the evidence for information seeking during infancy (e.g. attentional biases). I then turn to infants’ understanding of adults as rich sources of information, and describe how infants transition from attending to information to explicitly seeking it out. Here, I propose that long before infants acquire the verbal abilities to ask questions, they point to request information. I then argue that interrogative pointing plays a direct role in learning, with a specific focus on the link between pointing and word learning. I conclude with an exploration of infants’ transition from preverbal to verbal information requesting through question asking.
This chapter addresses the compelling questions of whether infants are intelligent and whether infant intelligence predicts future mental development. The chapter first tackles the perennially intransigent challenges of defining infancy and intelligence. The chapter next reviews the history of infancy study from the point of view of what we thought we knew about infant intelligence. The chapter then draws the reader into an intuitive perspective on what might be everyday intelligent behaviors on the part of infants; that perspective is buttressed with scientific investigations. That laboratory work is subsequently elaborated on with reference to new paradigms followed by a focus on two prominent interrelated methods and measures of studying cognition in infants: habituation and novelty preference. Their interpretation as measures of cognition in infancy is supported with evidence from studies of concurrent and predictive validity. The chapter concludes with comments and thoughts about the future promise of a new view on infant intelligence.
This chapter focuses on empirically supported interventions for common problems that may arise during clinical work with young children with medical problems. The reader will first be introduced to a review of the current research literature regarding prenatal and perinatal medical concerns, with specific emphasis on assessing prenatal psychiatric symptoms and subsequent interventions following these assessments during this early time. This section is then followed by an emphasis on interventions for young children that focus on helping with procedural anxiety associated with routine medical interventions, including resources for assistance with pill swallowing and information about pediatric medical traumatic stress that can occur during hospitalizations and/or as a result of injuries. At the end of the chapter, emphasis is placed on common feeding and toileting concerns that may arise in young children, as well as general guidelines and strategies for intervention. Resources are provided to help clinicians assess prenatal and perinatal medical concerns, utilize reward charts to help promote toileting, and provide sample social stories for children to help them prepare for a visit to the hospital; resources for pediatric medical traumatic stress are also provided.
The Keio Twin Research Center (KoTReC) was established in 2009 at Keio University to combine two longitudinal cohort projects — the Keio Twin Study (KTS) for adolescence and adulthood and the Tokyo Twin Cohort Project (ToTCoP) for infancy and childhood. KoTReC also conducted a two-time panel study of self-control and psychopathology in twin adolescence in 2012 and 2013 and three independent anonymous cross-sectional twin surveys (ToTcross) before 2012 — the ToTCross, the Junior and Senior High School Survey and the High School Survey. This article introduces the recent research designs of KoTReC and its publications.
This paper is a revised and updated edition of a previous description of the Quebec Newborn Twin Study (QNTS), an ongoing prospective longitudinal follow-up of a birth cohort of twins born between 1995 and 1998 in the greater Montreal area, Québec, Canada. The goal of QNTS is to document individual differences in the cognitive, behavioral, and social-emotional aspects of developmental health across childhood, their early genetic and environmental determinants, as well as their putative role in later social-emotional adjustment, school, health, and occupational outcomes. A total of 662 families of twins were initially assessed when the twins were aged 6 months. These twins and their family were then followed regularly. QNTS now has 16 waves of data collected or planned, including 5 in preschool. Over the last 24 years, a broad range of physiological, cognitive, behavioral, school, and health phenotypes were documented longitudinally through multi-informant and multimethod measurements. QNTS also entails extended and detailed multilevel assessments of proximal (e.g., parenting behaviors, peer relationships) and distal (e.g., family income) features of the child’s environment. QNTS children and a subset of their parents have been genotyped, allowing for the computation of a variety of polygenic scores. This detailed longitudinal information makes QNTS uniquely suited for the study of the role of the early years and gene–environment transactions in development.
Respiratory syncytial virus infection is the most frequent cause of acute lower respiratory tract disease in infants. A few reports have suggested that pulmonary hypertension is associated with increased severity of respiratory syncytial virus infection. We sought to determine the association between the pulmonary hypertension detected by echocardiography during respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis and clinical outcomes.
We retrospectively reviewed 154 children admitted with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis who had an echocardiography performed during the admission. The association between pulmonary hypertension and clinical outcomes including mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, prolonged ICU stay (>10 days), tracheal intubation, and need of high frequency oscillator ventilation was evaluated.
Echocardiography detected pulmonary hypertension in 29 patients (18.7%). Pulmonary hypertension was observed more frequently in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) (n = 11/33, 33%), chronic lung disease of infancy (n = 12/25, 48%), prematurity (<37 weeks gestational age, n = 17/59, 29%), and Down syndrome (n = 4/10, 40%). The presence of pulmonary hypertension was associated with morbidity (p < 0.001) and mortality (p = 0.02). However, in patients without these risk factors (n = 68), pulmonary hypertension was detected in five patients who presented with shock or poor perfusion. Chronic lung disease was associated with pulmonary hypertension (OR = 5.9, 95% CI 2.2–16.3, p = 0.0005). Multivariate logistic analysis demonstrated that pulmonary hypertension is associated with ICU admission (OR = 6.4, 95% CI 2.2–18.8, p = 0.0007), intubation (OR = 4.7, 95% CI 1.8–12.3, p = 0.002), high frequency oscillator ventilation (OR = 8.4, 95% CI 2.95–23.98, p < 0.0001), and prolonged ICU stay (OR = 4.9, 95% CI 2.0–11.7, p = 0.0004).
Pulmonary hypertension detected by echocardiography during respiratory syncytial virus infection was associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Chronic lung disease was associated with pulmonary hypertension detected during respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis. Routine echocardiography is not warranted for previously healthy, haemodynamically stable patients with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis.
Social-communication skills emerge within the context of rich social interactions, facilitated by an infant's capacity to attend to people and objects in the environment. Disruption in this early neurobehavioral process may decrease the frequency and quality of social interactions and learning opportunities, potentially leading to downstream deleterious effects on social development. This study examined early attention in infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are at risk for social and communication delays. Visual and auditory attention was mapped from age 1 week to 5 months in infants at familial risk for ASD (high risk; N = 41) and low-risk typically developing infants (low risk; N = 39). At 12 months, a subset of participants (N = 40) was administered assessments of social communication and nonverbal cognitive skills. Results revealed that high-risk infants performed lower on attention tasks at 2 and 3 months of age compared to low-risk infants. A significant association between overall attention at 3 months and developmental outcome at 12 months was observed for both groups. These results provide evidence for early vulnerabilities in visual attention for infants at risk for ASD during a period of important neurodevelopmental transition (between 2 and 3 months) when attention has significant implications for social communication and cognitive development.
Several aspects of early language skills, including parent-report measures of vocabulary, phoneme discrimination, speech segmentation, and speed of lexical access predict later childhood language outcomes. To date, no studies have examined the long-term predictive validity of novel word learning. We examined whether individual differences in novel word learning at 21 months predict later childhood receptive vocabulary outcomes rather than generalized cognitive abilities. Twenty-eight 21-month-olds were taught novel words using a modified version of the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm. Seventeen children (range 7–10 years) returned to participate in a longitudinal follow-up. Novel word learning in infancy uniquely accounted for 22% of the variance in childhood receptive vocabulary but did not predict later childhood visuospatial ability or non-verbal IQ. These results suggest that the ability to associate novel sound patterns to novel objects, an index of the process of word learning, may be especially important for long-term language mastery.
The study aimed at assessing stunting, wasting and breast-feeding as correlates of body composition in Cambodian children. As part of a nutrition trial (ISRCTN19918531), fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were measured using 2H dilution at 6 and 15 months of age. Of 419 infants enrolled, 98 % were breastfed, 15 % stunted and 4 % wasted at 6 months. At 15 months, 78 % were breastfed, 24 % stunted and 11 % wasted. Those not breastfed had lower FMI at 6 months but not at 15 months. Stunted children had lower FM at 6 months and lower FFM at 6 and 15 months compared with children with length-for-age z ≥0. Stunting was not associated with height-adjusted indexes fat mass index (FMI) or fat-free mass index (FFMI). Wasted children had lower FM, FFM, FMI and FFMI at 6 and 15 months compared with children with weight-for-length z (WLZ) ≥0. Generally, FFM and FFMI deficits increased with age, whereas FM and FMI deficits decreased, reflecting interactions between age and WLZ. For example, the FFM deficits were –0·99 (95 % CI –1·26, –0·72) kg at 6 months and –1·44 (95 % CI –1·69; –1·19) kg at 15 months (interaction, P<0·05), while the FMI deficits were –2·12 (95 % CI –2·53, –1·72) kg/m2 at 6 months and –1·32 (95 % CI –1·77, –0·87) kg/m2 at 15 months (interaction, P<0·05). This indicates that undernourished children preserve body fat at the detriment of fat-free tissue, which may have long-term consequences for health and working capacity.
The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of the most commonly cited factors that may have influenced infants’ gut microbiota profiles at one year of age: mode of delivery, breastfeeding duration and antibiotic exposure. Barcoded V3/V4 amplicons of bacterial 16S-rRNA gene were prepared from the stool samples of 52 healthy 1-year-old Australian children and sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq platform. Following the quality checks, the data were processed using the Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology pipeline and analysed using the Calypso package for microbiome data analysis. The stool microbiota profiles of children still breastfed were significantly different from that of children weaned earlier (P<0.05), independent of the age of solid food introduction. Among children still breastfed, Veillonella spp. abundance was higher. Children no longer breastfed possessed a more ‘mature’ microbiota, with notable increases of Firmicutes. The microbiota profiles of the children could not be differentiated by delivery mode or antibiotic exposure. Further analysis based on children’s feeding patterns found children who were breastfed alongside solid food had significantly different microbiota profiles compared to that of children who were receiving both breastmilk and formula milk alongside solid food. This study provided evidence that breastfeeding continues to influence gut microbial community even at late infancy when these children are also consuming table foods. At this age, any impacts from mode of delivery or antibiotic exposure did not appear to be discernible imprints on the microbial community profiles of these healthy children.
Infants begin to understand some of the meanings of the adjective good at around thirteen months, but it is not clear when they start to map it to concepts in the moral domain. We investigated infants’ and toddlers’ knowledge of good in the domains of help and fairness. Participants at 20 and 30 months were shown computer animations involving helpful and hindering agents, or agents who performed fair or unfair distributions, and were asked to “pick the good one”. Toddlers at 30 months took good as referring to helping, but not to the fair agents. However, when asked “to pick one”, they choose the fair distributor. These findings suggest that by 30 months toddlers have started to map good to some socio-moral features, such as a helping disposition, but not to fairness in distributive actions.
In this article, I present a selective review of research on speech perception development and its relation to reference, word learning, and other aspects of language acquisition, focusing on the empirical and theoretical contributions that have come from my laboratory over the years. Discussed are the biases infants have at birth for processing speech, the mechanisms by which universal speech perception becomes attuned to the properties of the native language, and the extent to which changing speech perception sensitivities contribute to language learning. These issues are reviewed from the perspective of both monolingual and bilingual learning infants. Two foci will distinguish this from my previous reviews: first and foremost is the extent to which contrastive meaning and referential intent are not just shaped by, but also shape, changing speech perception sensitivities, and second is the extent to which infant speech perception is multisensory and its implications for both theory and methodology.
Reading Jesus’ conception and genealogy in the context of claims about Augustus brings clarity to the perplexing identification of Adam as God's offspring (Luke 3.38). Jesus was fathered by God's spirit (1.35), as was his ancestor Adam (through Joseph). Likewise, some claimed Augustus was fathered by Apollo and that his ancestor Aeneas (through adoption by Julius Caesar) was the offspring of Aphrodite/Venus. This comparison suggests that Jesus is comparable to Augustus and that Jesus’ kingdom of God is comparable to Augustus’ Golden Age. Moreover, the logical force of these parallels favours the inferring of Joseph's adoption of Jesus in Luke.
Early life stress has been shown to contribute to alterations in biobehavioral regulation. Whereas many different forms of childhood adversities have been studied in relation to cardiovascular outcomes, very little is known about potential associations between caregivers’ verbally aggressive behavior and heart rate and blood pressure in the child. This prospective study examined whether maternal verbally aggressive behavior in early infancy is associated with heart rate or blood pressure at age 5–6. In the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study, a large prospective, population-based birth cohort, maternal verbally aggressive behavior was assessed by questionnaire in the 13th week after birth. The child’s blood pressure and heart rate were measured during rest at age 5–6 (n=2553 included). Maternal verbally aggressive behavior in infancy was associated with a higher systolic blood pressure (SBP) both in supine and sitting position after adjustment for sex, height and age (SBP supine B=1.01 mmHg; 95% CI [0.06; 1.95] and SPB sitting B=1.29 mmHg; 95% CI [0.12; 2.46]). Adjustment for potential confounding variables, such as other mother–infant dyad aspects, family hypertension and child’s BMI, only slightly attenuated the associations (SBP supine B=0.99 mmHg; 95% CI [0.06; 1.93] and SPB sitting B=1.11 mmHg; 95% CI [−0.06; 2.27]). Maternal verbally aggressive behavior was not associated with diastolic blood pressure or heart rate at age 5–6. Maternal verbally aggressive behavior might be an important early life stressor with negative impact on blood pressure later in life, which should be further investigated. Possible underlying mechanisms are discussed.
Among young Samoan children, diet may not be optimal: in 2015, 16·1 % of 24–59-month-olds were overweight/obese, 20·3 % stunted and 34·1 % anaemic. The present study aimed to identify dietary patterns among 24–59-month-old Samoan children and evaluate their association with: (i) child, maternal and household characteristics; and (ii) nutritional status indicators (stunting, overweight/obesity, anaemia).
A community-based, cross-sectional study. Principal component analysis on 117 FFQ items was used to identify empirical dietary patterns. Distributions of child, maternal and household characteristics were examined by factor score quintiles. The regression of nutritional status indicators v. these quintiles was performed using logistic regression models.
Ten villages on the Samoan island of Upolu.
A convenience sample of mother–child pairs (n 305).
Two dietary patterns, modern and neo-traditional, emerged. The modern pattern was loaded with ‘westernized’ foods (red meat, condiments and snacks). The neo-traditional pattern included vegetables, local starches, coconuts, fish and poultry. Following the modern diet was associated with urban residence, greater maternal educational attainment, higher socio-economic status, lower vitamin C intake and higher sugar intake. Following the neo-traditional diet was associated with rural residence, lower socio-economic status, higher vitamin C intake and lower sugar intake. While dietary patterns were not related to stunting or anaemia, following the neo-traditional pattern was positively associated with child overweight/obesity (adjusted OR=4·23, 95 % CI 1·26, 14·17, for the highest quintile, P-trend=0·06).
Further longitudinal monitoring and evaluation of early childhood growth and development are needed to understand the influences of early diet on child health in Samoa.
Mortality rates among children with CHD have significantly declined, although the incidence of neurological abnormalities and neurodevelopmental impairment has increased. Research has focussed on outcomes, with limited attention on prevention and intervention. Although some developmental differences and challenges seen in children with CHD are explained by the cumulative effect of medical complications associated with CHD, many sequelae are not easily explained by medical complications alone. Although cardiac intensive care is lifesaving, it creates high levels of environmental and tactile stimulation, which potentially contribute to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. The therapeutic method of individualised developmental care, such as the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program, provides early support and preventive intervention based on each child’s behavioural signals of stress, comfort, and strength. Implementing developmental care practices in a cardiac ICU requires a thoughtful and well-planned approach to ensure successful adoption of practice changes. This paper reviews how developmental care was introduced in a paediatric inpatient cardiac service through multidisciplinary collaborative staff education, clinician support, child neurodevelopment assessment, parent support, and research initiatives. Given the known risk for children with CHD, cardiac medical professionals must shift their focus to not only assuring the child’s survival but also optimising development through individualised developmental care in the cardiac ICU.
Early life nutrition and feeding practices are important modifiable determinants of subsequent obesity, yet little is known about the circadian feeding pattern of 12-month-old infants. We aimed to describe the 24-h feeding patterns of 12-month-old infants and examine their associations with maternal and infant characteristics. Mothers from a prospective birth cohort study (n 431) reported dietary intakes of their 12-month-old infants and respective feeding times using 24-h dietary recall. Based on their feeding times, infants were classified into post-midnight (00.00–05.59 hours) and pre-midnight (06.00–23.59 hours) feeders. Mean daily energy intake was 3234 (sd 950) kJ (773 (sd 227) kcal), comprising 51·8 (sd 7·8) % carbohydrate, 33·9 (sd 7·2) % fat and 14·4 (sd 3·2) % protein. Mean hourly energy intake and proportion of infants fed were lower during post-midnight than pre-midnight hours. There were 251 (58·2 %) pre-midnight and 180 (41·8 %) post-midnight feeders. Post-midnight feeders consumed higher daily energy, carbohydrate, fat and protein intakes than pre-midnight feeders (all P<0·001). The difference in energy intake originated from energy content consumed during the post-midnight period. Majority (n 173) of post-midnight feeders consumed formula milk during the post-midnight period. Using multivariate logistic regression with confounder adjustment, exclusively breast-feeding during the first 6 months of life was negatively associated with post-midnight feeding at 12 months (adjusted OR 0·31; 95 % CI 0·11, 0·82). This study provides new insights into the circadian pattern of energy intake during infancy. Our findings indicated that the timing of feeding at 12 months was associated with daily energy and macronutrient intakes, and feeding mode during early infancy.
Socioeconomic difficulties affect the cognitive and emotional development of children. However, the focus of prior studies has largely been on poverty and material hardship. This study expands on the existing literature by examining the impact of familial transient financial difficulties during infancy on long-term cognitive and behavioral outcomes.
The National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (79) were used to assess the association between a transient drop in family income by 50% or more (called transient income decline or TID) during the first 3 years of life and later-life Peabody Individual Achievement Math and Reading scores and behavior problem index (BPI) scores (N = 8272–17 348; median assessment age = 9 years). A subsample of matched siblings (N = 2049–4238) was examined to tease out maternal and intra-familial effects.
Exposure to TID predicted increased total and externalizing BPI scores (std. coefficients of 0.10 and 0.09, respectively, p < 0.01) in the overall sample. Among matched siblings, exposure to TID predicted increased total, externalizing, and internalizing BPI scores (std. coefficients of 0.27, 0.25, and 0.23, respectively, p < 0.01).
Familial transient financial difficulties can have long-lasting behavioral effects for infants. The study identifies an early risk factor and at-risk children, thus providing insight into developing early intervention measures for infants to avoid long-term behavioral problems.
Studies of the role of the early environment in shaping children’s risk for anxiety problems have produced mixed results. It is possible that inconsistencies in previous findings result from a lack of consideration of a putative role for inherited influences moderators on the impact of early experiences. Early inherited influences not only contribute to vulnerabilities for anxiety problems throughout the lifespan, but can also modulate the ways that the early environment impacts child outcomes. In the current study, we tested the effects of child-centered parenting behaviors on putative anxiety risk in young children who differed in levels of inherited vulnerability. We tested this using a parent–offspring adoption design and a sample in which risk for anxiety problems and parenting behaviors were assessed in both mothers and fathers. Inherited influences on anxiety problems were assessed as anxiety symptoms in biological parents. Child-centered parenting was observed in adoptive mothers and fathers when children were 9 months old. Social inhibition, an early temperament marker of anxiety risk, was observed at child ages 9 and 18 months. Inherited influences on anxiety problems moderated the link between paternal child-centered parenting during infancy and social inhibition in toddlerhood. For children whose birth parents reported high levels of anxiety symptoms, greater child-centered parenting in adoptive fathers was related to greater social inhibition 9 months later. For children whose birth parents reported low levels of anxiety symptoms, greater child-centered parenting in adoptive fathers was related to less social inhibition across the same period.
Previous studies investigating long-term outcomes in children following vitamin B12 deficiency during infancy have been limited to IQ or clinical observation. This paper seeks to describe comprehensive neuropsychological profiles in a case series of school-aged children who were treated for infantile vitamin B12 deficiency. This was a retrospective case series of seven children who were treated for vitamin B12 deficiency during infancy and aged 5 to 16 years at the time of testing. While most children had age-expected intellectual performance, the distribution of the sample was skewed to the lower end of the normal range. Furthermore, children were found to have impairments in a number of neuropsychological domains, most common were attention and memory, followed by executive function. These results suggest that while neurological symptoms quickly resolve following treatment, these effects on early brain development may disrupt brain maturation and have the potential to impact on later development.