Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.
You may need to rethink your drink. A study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia shows that excess sugar, especially the fructose in soda, may damage your brain. People who drink a lot of sugary beverages are more likely to have a poor memory, a smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s important for learning and memory. But researchers say don’t reach for lo-cal soda. Another study in the journal Stroke, shows that people who drink diet soda are nearly three times as likely to have a stroke and develop dementia as those who don’t drink diet soda.
Courses that teach mindfulness and meditation help women, but a new study shows they don’t help men at all. The study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows that while women are more prone to depression and downcast mood overall, learning mindfulness significantly helps them overcome it. However, men are mostly unaffected.
And finally, where a baby’s born makes a big difference in how much they cry. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds that on average, babies cry about two hours a day their first few weeks of life. Over three hours per day is officially a colicky baby. And you’ll find more of them in England, Canada and Italy than anywhere else. About a quarter to a third of babies there cry more than three hours a day. The lowest percentages were in Denmark and Germany, where only about five percent of babies spend so much time crying.
We’ve reported on how dogs can sniff out a variety of diseases in people with scientists trying to create a mechanical nose to do the same thing. Now a study presented to the American Chemical Society shows they’re making progress. Researchers have identified a signature odor in 90% of cases of prostate cancer and have developed a chemical test to detect it. Doctors are looking for an alternative to the PSA test to detect prostate cancer because of the high proportion of false positives.
People who are depressed have a surprisingly high risk for heart disease. A new study in the journal Atherosclerosis shows that depression is just as much of a cardiovascular risk as obesity and high cholesterol. The 10-year study finds that depression is to blame for about 15% of all heart disease deaths, a rate exceeded only by smoking and high blood pressure. About 350 million people around the world suffer from depression.
It might be easier to get into an argument when you’re tired because you’re misreading the emotions of other people. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms shows that sleepy people have trouble interpreting some emotions in the faces of others compared to those who are well rested. Tired people can read fear and anger in others’ faces but more subtle emotions are misinterpreted far more often.
And finally, slightly more than half of parents give sports the green light for their kids but about one in every six completely rule them out. The reason? Concussions. The rest of parents, about a third of them, allow participation on a sport by sport basis, according to a Harris survey for the American Osteopathic Association. About two thirds of parents say basketball and baseball are ok for kids. But less than 20% approve of their children playing football.
People who are adopted have more psychological problems than others, yet they also tend to have other psychological strengths. Experts, both themselves also adoptees, discuss the roots and outcomes of these issues as adopted children grow up.
Synopsis: What we now call “homesickness” used to be a medical diagnosis called “nostalgia,” and it was considered life-threatening. Today many people consider homesickness to be a childish emotion, but an expert says it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all suffer from it sometime and need to know how to cope.
Synopsis: Every generation thinks the one behind it is full of spoiled, entitled, lazy kids, prompting parenting advice that research shows is actually harmful to children. An expert discusses why conventional wisdom about raising kids is often all wrong.
Show Synopsis: Freezing eggs in their 30’s allows women to preserve fertility well into their 40’s. The concept was originally meant for women whose fertility was threatened by disease or medical treatment, but today the majority of those having eggs frozen are doing so for social or career reasons. Now egg freezing is even offered as a corporate benefit in some places. Experts discuss the procedure and its uses.