A new study confirmed that reading aloud to a baby reduces the chance that he or she will suffer from hyperactivity and attention problems at school age.
Six point four million children aged 4-17 in America are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and those numbers are rising. 6.1% of American children take medication to manage their ADHD. The simple act of reading aloud from birth can completely change a child's future.
A group of new mothers participated in a study where they were educated through their pediatric primary care providers on ways to play with and read aloud to their babies starting at birth. Mothers were recorded playing with their babies and reading to them, and the recordings were reviewed with the mothers to reinforce positive interactions. The children were assessed using a tool that screened for attention problems, hyperactivity, and aggression at age three and at age four and a half. Babies who were read aloud to presented lower rates of hyperactivity and attention problems.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="838"] Via BananiVista[/caption]
These positive results tell us that pediatricians should be educating families on the benefits of reading aloud starting at birth. Parents should be given information on what kind of books to use, how much reading they might expect to do in a day (15 minutes is a great goal), and how to interact with the words with their child. Since babies develop so rapidly during the first year, they'd need updated age-specific materials at each well visit. Ideally, they'd go home with a handful of books to get started on right away.
Imagine if every family took home a set of books with supplementary material to guide the parents on how to read them as their child grows. And if prenatal and postnatal care included an emphasis on reading aloud to babies. How many of these might grow into confident kids who learn well in school? Integrating this kind of information into pediatric primary care would mean universal access; families of lower socioeconomic status would receive the kind of information they need to help their children bridge the achievement gap. And sending home materials so it's all set to go would help busy families find the time get started.