Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development, Uncategorized.

Description: Read these articles describing and discussing the findings of a recent study on the epigenesist of childhood obesity and linking it to maternal and grand-maternal activity patterns (or the lack thereof) during their adolescences.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: November 30, 2014

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Links:     Lead article –

Comment on Article-

Earlier related article –—now-another-thing-you-can-blame-on-your-mother/article613728/

We often bemoan the historical fact that early psychological theories of various sorts involved a nasty amount of “mother blaming”. Ice-box mothers who were emotionally unresponsive to their infants were said to causally contribute to the development of autism and Schizophrenigenic mothers were said to contribute to the development of schizophrenia in their offspring by behaving in emotionally and behaviourally contradictory ways towards them. Given how odd and frankly sexist these Freudian era hypotheses sound today one would think that current researchers would be reticent to invoke any hypotheses that look like mother blaming. A new theory in the general area of nature/nurture effects on outcomes is called epigenisis and it involves looking at the way certain aspects of the prenatal environment such as maternal nutrition and activity levels can affect developing fetuses by turning off or turning on certain genes. While no one is opposed to this type of research there are those who are pointing out that the media is quick to revert to versions of mother blaming and that less work has been done (and less reporting has been done on work that HAS been undertaken) on the roles that fathers play in epigenisis.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things do researchers studying epigenisis look at?
  2. Are there gaps between the claims being made by researchers in their studies and how those studies are reported in the media or picked up by the general public?
  3. What sorts of critical questions might we ask about stories like this that would make it more likely that the results of such studies will not be over stated?

References (Read Further):

Archer, Edward (2014) The Childhood Obesity Epidemic as a Result of Nongenetic Evolution: The Maternal Resources Hypothesis,

Richardson, Sarah S, Cynthia R Daniels, Matthew W Gillman, Janet Golden, Rebecca Kukla, Christopher Kuzawa, and Janet Rich-Edwards. “Don’t Blame the Mothers” Nature 512 (2014): 131-132.


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Development of the Self, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Prevention, Psychological Intervention, Uncategorized.

Source: Project Wild Thing Website, see links below

Date: November 24, 2014


The current generation of children is predicted to be the first generation in a VERY long time that is predicted to NOT live longer than their parents. David Bond, in this very engaging film Wild Thing, seeks to correct that by making himself the “Marketing Director for Nature” and taking on the selling of many unnatural things to our children by selling Nature or simple time outdoors. Along the way he points out the many studies that show positive effects of mental health, wellbeing and development of spending time in nature.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What effects might our electronically mediated lifestyles have on currently developing children and adolescents?
  2. We usually talk about Nature within the context of our historical debates about the roles played by Nature (genetics) and Nurture (upbringing and social experience) but what sorts of things should we study or consider if we want to include Nature (as in Mother Nature) in our consideration of human development?
  3. What are some of your experiences with the potential role of Nature in your general sense of wellbeing?

Other Sources of Information on this Issue:

Coplan, Robert J. et al., (2014) The Restorative qualities of being alone with nature. The handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone. (eds R. J. Coplan and J. C. Bowker), John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Russell, Roly et al., (2013) Humans and Nature: How knowing and experiencing nature affect wellbeing. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 38, 473-502.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Persuasion, Psychological Intervention, Social Influence, Substance-Related Disorders, Uncategorized.

Source: YouTube and others, see links below

Date: November 24, 2014

Links:     Video:


Review Blog from Sundance Festival:

IMDb Link:

The video clip linked here and the larger documentary film from which it was taken shows the approach to treatment of Internet Addiction among teenagers taken within China. China was the first country to formally declare the existence of Internet Addition and develop state supported treatment programs and centers. The film shows activities within the Chinese Teenagers Mental Growth Center. It shows a somewhat militaristic approach which, none the less, is not so very far removed from forms of “secure treatment” provided to teens dealing with issues such as addiction or eating disorders in Canada. The program claims a 70% successfully treatment rate though it is unclear precisely what this reflects (e.g., completion of treatment, successful reintegration with family, more positive adjustment and less internet gaming, etc.?). The cultural context of addictive behaviour is also indirectly shown in the film where the youth being treated often lost all friendships, left school, and spent days at a time gaming continuously in internet cafes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is the Chinese definition of addiction and its application to internet gaming appropriate? What about their approach to treatment?
  2. Given that internet gaming addiction is now included in the DSM-5 (see editorial links below), how should we think about and approach this issue here in Canada (North America)?

Other Sources of Information on this Issue:

Block, Jerald J., (2008) Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction, American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(3) 306-307. Pdf download:

Petry, Nancy M. and O’Brien, Charles P. (2013) Internet gaming disorder and the DSM-5, Addiction, 108(7) 1186-1187.

Kuss, D.J.; Griffiths, M.D.; Karila, L.; and Billieux, J. (2013) Internet Addiction: A systematic review of epidemiological research for the last decade, Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20(25), 4026-4052.


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Disorders of Childhood, Disorders of Childhood, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Physiology, Prenatal Development, Uncategorized.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: November 24, 2014

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Links: Video:


The drug Thalidomide, which was found to be a powerful teratogen, was approved for use in Canada in the 1960’s largely on the strength of it already having been approved for use in the UK, other commonwealth countries and Germany. It was never approved for use in the United States because a Canadian, Francis Kelsey, only one month on the job in Washington, was concerned that there was not enough data on the drug’s effects provided by the drug company wanting to market it in the United States. Her concerns were validated in tragic ways by the extent of the effects of the drug seen in infants born in Canada and elsewhere. Kelsey’s training and career and accomplishments (including an award from President Kennedy for her stand on Thalidomide) make her a pioneer of women in science.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What role did Francis Kelsey play in the review of Thalidomide in the United States? What standards and expectations should regulators hold drug companies to in moving drugs towards human use? How have these changed historically?
  2. Should we be more or less concerned about the potential effects of drugs in prenatal development today as compared to the 1960’s when Francis Kelsey was working?


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Disorders of Childhood, Legal Ethical Issues, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development, Uncategorized.

Description: Read the article describing the long term developmental effects on Canadians whose Mothers were given the drug Thalidomide to treat insomnia and nausea early in their pregnancies (in the 1960’s).

Source: The Globe and Mail

Date: November 21, 2014



Thalidomide is a textbook teratogen. Prescribed as a sleeping pill or an anti-nausea treatment it was given to many people but also to pregnant women in the early 1960’s when there was less caution about the potential side-effects about any drug on pregnant women and their prenatally developing fetuses in an time when “better living through chemistry” (a version of a slogan used at the time by DuPont) was a common belief. If the drug was taken within a fairly tight sensitive period of prenatal development it effected the growth buds that were to produce the long bones of the arms and/or legs (among other systems) and causing a condition called Phocomelia (flipper limbed) which, prior to Thalidomide as VERY rare. The article describes the short and long term effects produced by Thalidomide 95 Canadians as well as the meagre settlements and supports they have received compared to those provided to “Thalidomide Babies” in other countries.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What were Thalidomide’s teratogenic effects, when did they occur in prenatal development, and why might these timing or sensitive period developmental issues made it difficult to connect Thalidomide to its effects?
  2. What sort of regulatory processes and related responsibilities are suggested by the experiences of Canada’s Thalidomide Babies?