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March 31, 2021 Wednesday 04:33:33 PM IST

New model to help identify risk factors for reading difficulties in children

Parent Interventions

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have developed a new framework for different factors influencing how a child's brain is "wired" to learn to read before kindergarten. This may help pediatric providers identify risks when the brain is most responsive to experiences and interventions. This "eco-bio-developmental" model of emergent literacy, described in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, reinforces the potential of early screening, prevention, and intervention during pediatric clinic visits in early childhood. This kind of model is advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help better understand and improve important social determinants of health.

The model is separated into three categories: 1) ecological, 2) biological and 3) developmental. Ecological includes experiences in a child's home environment, such as reading, talking, teaching, and creative play. Biological includes genetics such as the family history of dyslexia and medical conditions such as prematurity. Developmental includes cognitive, social-emotional, and brain health and abilities.

Cincinnati Children's has several programs in place for parents to help their child, both in and out of the hospital. A new program is called "NICU Bookworms," through which families receive free books and encouragement to read to their baby during their stay in intensive care, which can be days or months long. They also receive empowering guidance on the benefits of "shared" book reading by trained NICU teams. This is an important resource, as families are often anxious about what they can do to help their child.

Other early reading programs featured in the eco-bio-developmental model include: Reach Out and Read, through which children receive a new book and guidance about reading at home during well-visits from newborn through age 5; and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which mails new books to the child's home once a month from birth through age 5. Each of these is well-established at Cincinnati Children's, in Ohio, and nationally.

A new book titled Baby Bookworm, written by Dr. Hutton and neonatologist Dr. Viral Jain, MD, to reinforce the NICU Bookworms program, was recently published. It gives parents in the NICU at Cincinnati Children's and other hospitals a way to help them bond with their babies.

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