[ASC-media] Sociable babies; bilingual children in front; we can cut drugs in school.

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Thu Sep 14 04:30:02 CEST 2006

Sociable babies; bilingual children in front; we can cut drugs in
Stories from the final day of the international child mental health
conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre include:

Babies try to form social bonds from birth
People once thought that in the first weeks of life, babies were
sluggish and largely asleep. "But this is wrong," says the director of
the NSW Institute of Psychiatry Louise Newman. "Right from birth they
are trying to form social relationships, and it is important that
parents get these early relationships off to a good start." A short film
of babies in early life - learning to make eye contact and copying
facial expressions - is being shown to new parents, including some as
young as 14, to show them what their baby can do and give them the
skills to form a strong parental bond. Early results of this trial are
showing positive results. 

Babies in violent homes get post-traumatic stress
A program at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital that deals with
babies exposed to domestic violence is set to expand, after a successful
two-year trial. Psychoanalyst Dr Frances Salo said babies exposed to
violence between their parents developed a form of post-traumatic
stress. "If they witness the violence it has the potential to cause
long-term psychological difficulties. They can develop anxiety in later
life, which can cause problems at school."  

Two tongues better than one for growing minds
Adolescents from migrant families who grow up bilingually perform better
in school, are generally happier, and are less likely to hurt themselves
or others, a new study has found. The French study, led by Marie Rose
Moro, a Professor of psychopathology at Paris University, disputes the
common practice, whereby migrant children are discouraged from learning
their mother tongue in fear they will not learn French properly.

Intellectually disabled young people missing out on treatment for mental
For 16 years, researchers have followed 1000 people from Victoria and
NSW with an intellectual disability. Aged from 4 to 18 years old when
the study began, all are now young adults, most living at home or with
carers. New findings show about 40 per cent of the group also have a
mental illness - anxiety, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder - but
only 10 per cent of them receive any treatment. "It's a tragedy because
these problems are relatively easily treated," says professor of
psychological medicine at Monash University Bruce Tonge. "Most people in
the general community who have such a condition are identified as having
a mental illness, and receive some form of treatment. This group is
simply falling between the cracks."

Genetics will dictate how we treat mental illness
Genetic discoveries are set to dictate how we treat mental illness - not
only among children, but among their parents, according to one of
Australia's experts on twins. Professor David Hay of Curtin University
in Western Australia says in four years our increased genetics knowledge
will also mean people who fail to react to some drugs will be given
genetic tests that will point to a more effective treatment. 

How to cut drug use, violence in school - change the social climates
A study in 26 Australian schools led to tobacco and cannabis use falling
25 per cent; violence and anti-social behaviour falling 20 per cent; and
having sexual intercourse among 13-year-olds fell by 50 per cent.

Media inquiries: Jo Gajewski: 0429 388 822, jo at scienceinpublic.com 


Niall Byrne
Science in Public
Ph +61 3 5253 1391
niall at scienceinpublic.com
OR niallprivate at scienceinpublic.com
PO Box 199, Drysdale Vic Australia

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