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Ed Yeates ReportingWatching television at a very early age may increase the risk for attention deficit disorders by the time a child begins school. That's what researchers at the Children's Hospital in Seattle are claiming this week in a very interesting but controversial study.
This latest study out of Seattle once again puts TV and its influence on kids back on the radar screen. But this time researchers are talking about a much younger age group than what we’ve heard before.
The study suggests that kids between one and three years of age face a 10 percent increased risk of developing attention problems for every hour they watch television. The ADHD symptoms supposedly would surface by the time they reach seven years of age. The theory: The sights and sounds on TV over stimulate the brain which is rapidly wiring itself at that early age.
Brent Petersen, M.D., Child Psychiatrist, Primary Children's Hospital: "Rewire sounds too strong, but we do know that stimuli affect the brain. The brain is plastic and it does change its chemical posturing. So in a sense, there is a kind of rewiring."
In Salt Lake City child psychiatrist Dr. Brent Petersen with Primary Children's Hospital and Valley Mental Health agrees TV could be a factor, especially when compared with previous studies.
Dr. Petersen: "Some children watching TV maybe don't discriminate sound as well as others. We certainly have the language example that the brain is wired to sounds of language, which is very early."
But at the same time, Dr. Petersen cautions about potential weaknesses in the study. For example, results are based on reports from parents involving only ten percent of a very young population which statistically is already within the boundaries of those who are genetically predisposed to ADHD. The research team in Seattle also admits the study did not control for content on TV and that could be a significant factor.