LAB REPORT

Sport makes children more disciplined; antibiotics may have big impact on development

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 July, 2015, 6:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 July, 2015, 6:47am

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Extracurricular sports produce better students

Regular, structured extracurricular sports seem to help children develop the discipline they need to engage effectively in the classroom, according to a new study by the University of Montreal. The researchers reviewed data on 2,694 children who were born in Quebec between 1997 and 1998, and were tracked until the age of 10. Children involved in sports or any kind of structured activity at kindergarten were likely to be involved in team sports by the age of 10. And children who had better behaviour at kindergarten were more likely to be involved in sport by the time they were 10. "By the time they reached the fourth grade, children who played structured sports were identifiably better at following instructions and remaining focused in the classroom," says lead researcher Linda Pagani. "There is something specific to the sporting environment - perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team or special group with a common goal - that appears to help children understand the importance of respecting the rules and honouring responsibilities."

Antibiotics may have big impact on children's development

A new animal study by NYU Langone Medical Centre researchers adds to growing evidence that multiple courses of commonly used antibiotics may have a big impact on children's development. In the study published online last week by the journal Nature Communications, female mice treated with two classes of widely used childhood antibiotics gained more weight and developed larger bones than untreated mice. Both of the antibiotics also disrupted the gut microbiome, the trillions of microbes that inhabit the intestinal tract. The animals were given the same number of prescriptions and the same therapeutic dose that the average child receives in the first two years of life. A control group of mice received no drugs at all. The drugs used were amoxicillin and tylosin. "We have been using antibiotics as if there was no biological cost," says Dr Martin Blaser the study's senior author. Although the study was limited to mice, he says the cumulative data could help shape guidelines governing the duration and type of paediatric prescriptions.

Sugary drinks linked to high death tolls

Consumption of sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide due to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages published in Circulation. Estimates of consumption were made from 62 dietary surveys, including nearly 612,000 individuals conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries and other information. The impact of sugar-sweetened beverages varied greatly between populations. At the extremes, the estimated percentage of deaths was less than 1 per cent in Japanese over 65 years old, but 30 per cent in Mexican adults younger than 45. "Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated. There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year," says Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.