A Child’s Growing Brain Needs Love as Much as Food
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Fewer babies and very young children are dying today compared to 20 years.
Over that period, the number of infant deaths has dropped sharply -- from about 12 million to six million worldwide. Infant child mortality has been cut thanks to billions of dollars in aid and the work of many countries.
However, a group of experts say that is not enough. For children to grow and develop fully, they need more than a nutritious diet and access to medicine.
That is the opinion of a team of social scientists and public health experts. They found that about 200 million children are failing to meet their developmental potential each year. What is lacking, say the experts, is social interaction with the children and involvement by their caretakers.
The U.S. National Academy of Medicine set up the group of 32 academic experts. They provide strong evidence that just as a poor diet can harm children, violence and lack of care can damage a child's brain.
And that, they say, leads to physical and social stunting, even when aid programs are available. Stunting is when a person fails to grow and develop normally.
Neil Boothby is with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. He likens social interaction to "investing in young children." He adds that "it's vital to ensuring international peace and security."
Boothby says that providing good, positive social interactions is as big a part of development as providing food and water. And these positive social interactions must be consistent and not, what he calls, episodic.
He calls the wiring in the brain, circuitry. And he calls the structure of the brain, 'brain architecture.'
Here is Boothby.
"This becomes part of actually strengthening the circuitry in the brain. When the response isn't there, or it's episodically there, then (that) same circuitry, that same brain architecture is weakened. So it is not just micronutrient, it is also social care."
Boothby says studies have shown that international aid programs alone are not enough to help children reach their full ability.
The Columbia University researcher just returned from Uganda. In that country, he says, more than a third of the population suffers from stunting. Signs of stunting include smaller physical growth and lower than average scores on intelligence tests.
"For example, I met with some parents on this last trip. Fathers were saying, ‘Ah, you know I don't really engage with the child until she or he is three months old because they're too little.' I mean that's counter to what they should be doing because holding, talking, caressing, etc., is all part of brain health."
The paper, says Boothby, is a call for social interaction to be added to the list of health and nutrition assistance programs and concerns.
"You know, we teach parents when they go to clinics about water and sanitation. We teach them about the kinds of foods children should eat. Why aren't we teaching them the things that make brains grow?"
Boothby adds it is time for international aid policies to catch up with scientific research. Aid policies, he says, must combine the neurobiology of caring with other forms of assistance.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.access to 接近
Segregation has always blocked equal access to education.
2.public health 公共卫生
Venereal disease continues to be a significant public health problem.
3.set up 建立
He set up a new opinion regarding the project.
4.lack of 缺少
The whole operation was hamstrung by for lack of funds.
1.Fewer babies and very young children are dying today compared to 20 years.
compared to 与...相比
After all, compared to your organization, we are the new boys.
All of this was small stuff compared to Renaissance Center.
2.Over that period, the number of infant deaths has dropped sharply -- from about 12 million to six million worldwide.
the number of ...的数量
The difficulty that faces us is the number of those in need.
A sound approach to the problem is to minimize the number of parts.
20年间，全球婴儿死亡人数大幅度减少——从1200万降至600万 。婴儿死亡率锐减与数十亿美元的救助及各国政府的努力息息相关 。
但是一些专家表示这远远不够 。儿童的全面成长和发育需要更加营养的饮食和优良的医疗环境 。
以上是一组社会科学家和公共卫生专家团队的建议 。他们发现，每年有2亿儿童未发挥出自身的潜力 。专家们说，他们缺少的就是与社会性的互动和监护人的参与 。
这一32人的专家学者队伍是由美国国家医学学会建立 。他们用强有力的证据证明了暴力与缺爱、缺乏营养一样会伤害孩子的大脑 。
他们解释称，这会导致身体和社交上的发展停滞，就算再多的援助项目也无济于事 。“发展停滞”是指一个人无法正常成长和发育 。
尼尔·布茨比在纽约哥伦比亚大学梅尔曼公共卫生学院工作 。他把社会性互动比作“给幼儿投资” 。他补充说，“这是维护国际和平与安全至关重要的一环” 。
布茨比说，提供优良、积极的社会性互动是发育的重要一环，与水和食物同等重要 。这些积极的社会性互动必须是连贯的，不能断断续续的 。
他称大脑中的线路为“回路” 。还将大脑的结构称为“大脑构架” 。
“这是加强回路中的重要一环 。如果没有这样的响应，或者响应断断续续，那么相同的回路、相同的大脑构架就会减弱 。因此，除了微量营养素外，社会关怀也需要同步 。”
来自哥伦比亚大学的布茨比刚从乌干达回来 。他说，乌干达超三分之一的人口受困于发展停滞 。发展停滞的标志包括身体发育迟缓和智力水平低下 。
“例如，此次去乌干达我采访了一些父母 。父亲们表示，‘啊，孩子们三个月之前我都不怎么管他们，因为太小了’ 。他们不应该这么做，你知道，抱孩子、与之交谈还有爱抚等都是大脑健康发育的条件 。”
“你知道，父母们去诊所的时候学到了水和卫生的知识 。还学到了孩子应该吃什么食物 。
布茨比说，国际援助政策需要紧跟科研成果 。他表示，援助政策必须把育儿的神经生物学和其他形式的援助结合起来 。