Your Health

Better Child Care Early May Help Behavior Much Later

Teenagers whose early years were marked by less-than-ideal child care are more likely to act out and do worse at school than their classmates who got better quality child care as tots.

You might have figured as much from your own intuition or experience. But the conclusion comes from a long-running federally funded study that tracked nearly 1,400 kids from the time they were 1 month old.

"The fact that you have this persistent association is pretty remarkable,"  James A. Griffin of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, funder of the work, told the Washington Post.

Before we go any further, let's hit the caveats. The differences in behavior and intellectual performance were small, and the study, ambitious as it might have been, can't prove cause and effect — just correlations.

Still, the researchers say their findings are significant because the study is large, long and carefully done.

One finding of note: The more time kids spent in outside child care until they were 4 1/2, the more likely they were to rate themselves as impulsive or risk-takers as teens.

The results appear in the current issue of the journal Child Development.

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