Is there anything you can do now to help your child be healthier as an adult? Of course, many things – teaching them good eating habits, helping them develop a regular exercise habit, making sure they get all their vaccinations, etc.
Some Canadian researchers may have something new to add to that list – making sure your kids learn another language and become bilingual. Toronto’s York University’s Ellen Bialystok’s group completed a study recently which showed that people who are fully bilingual and speak both languages on a regular basis may be able to delay symptoms of dementia for 4 years – compared to people who only know 1 language.
They looked at close to 200 elderly people – around a half bilingual and a half not – and found that the onset of dementia was about 4 years later for those who were bilingual. The mechanism of how this may work is not known but may involve an increase in the blood supply to the brain.
If you want to help your child be smarter a report a while back in Lancet presented evidence showing that play in young children may be able to boost their intelligence. The study was done in the context of kids in impoverished third world countries where malnutrition is common. Apparently even kids with less than ideal diets can improve their IQ scores if given more mental stimulation from playing with toys. Now, you may not want to let your kids know about this – I’m sure they could come up with a big list of all the toys they want really fast so they can be ‘smarter’!
A much less expensive way to help your children is to give infant massages to your babies. The research is far from conclusive but there is some evidence that gentle baby massage may help to relieve colic, fussiness and sleep problems. Its also a great way to promote attachment between parents and children!
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