Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Archive for October 2009

Recent articles in the UK press were concerned with the abuse of children in a day care centre. A member of staff, who had been “security cleared” was found guilty of abusing a child, photographs were taken and posted to other abusers and the internet.

While the whole incident has rocked the lives of parents who use such facilities to help them maintian their lifestyles. Mobile phones are now equipped with the technology to take stills or video footage. Taking photographs of any child without the express permission of the parents, even when without malicious intent, is a breach of trust. One wonders why employees in childrens care centres are still allowed to keep their mobiles on their persons.

Previously, if there was a need to contact a member of staff in a child day care facility, that contact was acheived via a central office. Perhaps there is a need to return to this practice as a step to improve child safety. If mobile phones were not accepted in the workplace then at least one opportunity to abuse parental trust would be removed.

Perhaps this is something parents should ask about when choosing a care centre for their child, what are the centre’s policies regarding mobile phones in the workplace?

After learning something new, the brain initiates a complex set of post-learning processing that facilitates recall (i.e., consolidation). Evidence points to sleep as one of the determinants of that change. But whenever a behavioral study of episodic memory shows a benefit of sleep, critics assert that sleep only leads to a temporary shelter from the damaging effects of interference that would otherwise accrue during wakefulness.

To evaluate the potentially active role of sleep for verbal memory, a study compared memory recall after sleep, with and without interference before testing. It was demonstrated that recall performance for verbal memory was greater after sleep than after wakefulness. And when using interference testing, that difference was even more pronounced. By introducing interference after sleep, this study confirms the active role of sleep in consolidating memory, and unmasks the large magnitude of that benefit.

This is particularly important for our children who are growing and learning on a daily basis. If we want them to accomplish all that they can we need to ensure that they have a regular wake sleep pattern and occasional “power naps” may be very useful to a growing mind.

There has long been an association between headaches and migraines and sleep disorders in childhood. Last year a group decided to look at polysomnographic readings,(this is a brain wave reading taken during sleep) of children who complain of headaches and migraines. This study looked at 90 children with migraine (60), chronic migraine (11), tension headache (6), and nonspecific headache (13) indicated that sleep-disordered breathing was more frequent among children with migraine (56.6%) and nonspecific headache (54%) vs chronic migraine (27%). Tension headache was not associated with sleep-disordered breathing. In the nonspecific headache group, children with sleep-disordered breathing had higher body mass indexes.

Severe migraine and chronic migraine were associated with shorter sleep time, taking longer to get to sleep, and shorter rapid eye movement and slow-wave sleep. Fifty percent of children with tension headache ground their teeth, vs 2.4% of children with nontension headache. These results support an association between migraine and sleep-disordered breathing, and between tension headache and bruxism, in children. This suggests that disrupted sleep architecture with reduced rapid eye movement and slow-wave sleep in severe and chronic migraine headaches may support an intrinsic relationship between sleep and headache disorders.

This study was carried out in Pennsylvania, USA and reported in Pediatric Neurology.