Sunday, October 09, 2005

TV and Naps: Science of Parenting

BrooklynDodger found another journal which might be worth following for public health information.  Pediatrics as a specialty seems to either attract or impose more of a public health orientation than others.  
How much TV to let the child watch is among the serious day to day questions in parenting.  The paper abstracted below applies science to this.
The Dodger confesses not to know the methods of the National Survey of Early Childhood health; Dodger suspects it’s interview data with parents.    Here we find that bout 1/3 of parents report irregular naptime or bedtime schedules.  There’s no data included on duration of naps or sleep.  On average, they report children less than 1 year old “watching” television about 1 hour per day, up to 2 ½ hours a day for those 2-3 years old.  Those of us with kids need to think back to those days to characterize the environment and purpose of exposure to TV; for the older kids it’s likely a combination of immobilization and baby sitting.
Assuming these odds ratios are per hour, there’s about a 30% increase in risk of irregular bedtime for 3 hours of TV.  The Dodger can’t find the risk at 0 hours of TV in the paper.
Much the strongest risk factor for irregular sleeping times was irregular meal times, present in 25% of the population generating a risk ratio of 2.5.  Education beyond high school (80% of the population) generated a risk ratio of 0.6
Pairwise comparisons would have been interested.  Cross tabs between irregular mealtime and TV would illuminate the interpretation.
All in all, there’s little reason to think that the parental value of relief with the kid in front of the TV outweighs the parental detriment of irregular naps and bedtime.
Pediatrics 2005; 116: 851-856
The Association Between Television Viewing and Irregular Sleep Schedules Among Children Less Than 3 Years of Age
Darcy A. Thompson, MD, MPH*,and Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH
* Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program
Department of Pediatric Child Health Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington|Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
We used data from the National Survey of Early Childhood Health, a nationally representative, cross-sectional study of the health and health care of children 4 to 35 months of age. Our main outcome measures were whether children had irregular naptime and be…Data were available for 2068 children. Thirty-four percent of all children had irregular naptime schedules, and 27% had irregular bedtime schedules. Mean hours of television viewing per day were as follows: 0.9 hours/day … for children <12 months of age, 1.6 hours/day …for children 12 to 23 months of age, and 2.3 hours/day … for children 24 to 35 months of age. In our logistic regression model, the number of hours of television watched per day was associated with both an irregular naptime schedule (odds ratio: 1.09; 95% CI: 1.01–1.18) and an irregular bedtime schedule (odds ratio: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.04–1.24).
Conclusions. Television viewing among infants and toddlers is associated with irregular sleep schedules. More research is warranted to determine whether this association is causal.

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