Blood clot deaths tied to hours of daily TV time


People who watch television for five or more hours a day have more than twice the risk of those who watch half as much TV to die of a blood clot in the lung, a large Japanese study suggests.

There are more than 200,000 cases of pulmonary embolism, which usually begins as a blood clot in the leg that travels to the lung, in the U.S. each year, according to the National Library of Medicine. It can permanently damage lung tissue, other organs, or cause death, but many people who have it have no symptoms.

Pulmonary embolism is less common in Japan than in Western countries, said study coauthor Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, professor of public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, but Japanese people are becoming increasingly sedentary.

“We were surprised about the strength of the effect of television watching compared with the effects of advancing age, history of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, or body mass index in this study,” Iso told Reuters Health by email. “We speculated that leg immobility during television watching had increased their risk of fatal pulmonary embolism.”

In a number of studies of long haul travelers, the association between prolonged sitting and increased risk of pulmonary embolism did not vary by ethnicity, Iso said.

Other past studies have looked back at the lifestyle factors common to pulmonary embolism cases, but none had followed people over time to see if there was a link between their TV-watching time and their risk for embolisms, the study team writes in Circulation.

Between 1988 and 1990 Iso and colleagues asked more than 85,000 adults 40 to 79 years old in Japan how many hours they spent watching TV, then followed them for the next 19 years looking for deaths from pulmonary embolism. They also collected information on obesity, diabetes, cigarette smoking and high blood pressure, and tried to rule these factors out in the relationship between TV and blood clots.

Only 59 people in the sample died of pulmonary embolism, but compared to people who watched two and a half hours of TV or less per day, those who watched five or more hours were 2.5 times as likely to die of a clot.

Researchers calculated that among people who watched less than two and a half hours of TV, the rate of deaths from pulmonary embolism were 2.8 per 100,000 people per year, compared to a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 per year for those who watched five or more hours daily.

Risk of pulmonary embolism death increased by 40 percent for each additional two hours of daily TV watching, they found.

“Time spent watching TV is a pretty reliable way to measure how much time people spend sedentary, or inactive,” said Dr. Christopher Kabrhel, an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston who was not part of the new study. “If being sedentary puts you at risk for pulmonary embolism, and I believe it does, then it likely also puts you at risk of death from pulmonary embolism, as this study showed.”

After TV watching time, obesity was the next most important factor predicting risk of death from pulmonary embolism, the authors found.

Since U.S. adults watch more TV than Japanese adults, the results may be even more important to Americans, the authors said in a statement accompanying the study.

“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programs in one sitting has become popular,” lead author Dr. Toru Shirakawa, a research fellow in public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, wrote.

Travelers on long plane flights and people watching TV for long periods of time can stand up, stretch, walk around, or tense and relax their leg muscles for five minutes to reduce the risk of blood clots, they wrote.

“The results do not seem to be country-specific,” Kabrhel told Reuters Health by email. “Being sedentary is bad for you wherever you live.”


TV again tied to poor sleep among kids

In another blow to kids’ pleas to watch more television before bed, a new study suggests increased TV time is linked to less sleep. What’s more, black, Latino and other minority children slept less when they had TV sets in their bedrooms.

“Inadequate sleep in childhood is associated with health outcomes, including attention problems, school performance and an increased risk of obesity,” Elizabeth Cespedes told Reuters Health. Cespedes is the study’s lead author from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

“We wanted to know if television viewing may be associated with shorter sleep duration in children,” she said. For the new report, she and her colleagues used data from an existing study of mothers and children who lived in the Boston area. The study included 1,864 children who were born between 1999 and 2003. Mothers reported how much television their child watched at six months old and then every year until age seven.

Mothers also reported whether children slept with a television in their bedroom every year starting midway through the study.

The average time children slept each day decreased from about 12 hours at six months to about 10 hours at seven years, and total TV viewing increased from about one hour per day to 1.6 hours.

The proportion of children who slept with a TV in their bedroom increased from 17 percent to 23 percent between ages four and seven years, too. Children typically sleep less as they get older, the researchers noted. Still, each extra hour of TV watching added to their lifetime average was tied to a seven-minute decrease in daily sleep.

That association was stronger for boys than girls, according to findings published in Pediatrics. “I think in our case it’s possible that the content of the television watched may be different for boys than girls,” Cespedes said. “The content may be especially disruptive.”

She and her colleagues also found that sleeping with a TV in the bedroom was tied to 31 fewer minutes of sleep per day among racial and ethnic minority children. The effect of a TV in the bedroom was not as strong among white, non-Hispanic children.

Cespedes said it’s hard to know why minority children would be more affected by having a TV in the bedroom. “At all time points, racial and ethnic minority children in our study were sleeping a bit less and watching more television,” she said.

Dr. Heidi Connolly, a sleep specialist who was not involved with the new study, said the research is one of several recent papers that point toward a negative effect of TV on sleep.

“This doesn’t seem like very much, but if you think about it, seven minutes every night by the time you get to the end of the week you’re already a half hour short on sleep,” Connolly, from the University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York, said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against children younger than two years old watching any television. It also recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours per day.

“I think it’s unreasonable to expect that kids aren’t going to watch TV,” Connolly told Reuters Health. “It’s pervasive in our culture. But you do want to limit screen time to less than two hours per day.” Connolly also said people sometimes say their children need the TV on to sleep, but that’s not the case.

She said consistent bedtimes, regular bedtime routines and a TV-free comfortable sleeping environment are good sleep behaviors.

Source: orlando sentinel

TV time linked to less sleep for kids

The more television children watch, the less total sleep they’re getting, according to a small Spanish study.

Researchers found that a nine-year-old who watched five hours of television a day, for example, slept an average one hour less a night than a nine-year-old who watched television for less than an hour and a half a day, lead author Marcella Marinelli, from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, told Reuters Health.

The study team followed some 1,700 children for up to three years and found those who increased their TV time got even less sleep as they grew up.

“This study really demonstrated that kids who watch a lot of television and continued to do so continued to have a trajectory of less sleep than they should have,” said Christina Calamaro, from the Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware, who was not involved in the research.

Marinelli and her colleagues write in JAMA Pediatrics that theirs is the first study to examine the relationship over years between the amount of time toddlers and school-age children spend watching television and the amount they spend sleeping.

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates the average child spends eight hours a day in front of a screen. AAP recommends that parents limit kids’ daily screen time to one or two hours.

Pre-school age children need a total of 11 to 12 hours of sleep a day and school-aged kids need at least 10 hours a day, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Using data from a larger health study, Marinelli’s team assessed the sleep and television habits of 1,713 children in two Spanish cities and on the Mediterranean island of Menorca.

In the cities of Sabadell and Valencia, researchers asked parents how much time their children slept and how much TV they watched when they were two years old and again when they were four years old. In Menorca, researchers questioned the parents of children when they were six years old and again at nine years old.

The researchers categorized children who watched less than an hour and a half a day of television as “shorter” TV viewers and those who watched more than that as “longer” viewers.

TV viewing times at the beginning of the study period ranged from zero to a maximum of eight hours a day, though the median viewing time was about one hour a day. Sleep times ranged from three to 20 hours a day initially, but the median was about 12 hours for two-year-olds, 10 hours for four-year-olds and 11 hours for the six-year olds.

At all points, kids who were longer viewers got less sleep than kids who were shorter viewers.

Median sleep times dropped by about two hours during the two-to-three year follow-up period for all age groups. But kids who increased their TV viewing during that period lost even more sleep time than the others – an average of 20 percent.

Children who reduced their viewing time during follow-up tended to get more sleep, but that result could have been due to chance, the researchers note.

Marinelli’s team did not look at what kinds of shows the children watched on television, what times of day they watched or where the TVs were located. Their study cannot prove that TV viewing caused the differences seen in sleep times or explain why that might be.

One recent study found slightly older kids, aged 11 to 13, slept significantly less when they frequently watched television before hitting the sack (see Reuters Health story of January 24, 2014 here:

The researchers adjusted their findings for other factors that might influence the results – including the kids’ gender, weight, exercise, symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, whether children slept alone or with others, humidity in their bedrooms and the age of their mattresses. Researchers also adjusted for parents’ marital status, educational level and psychopathological symptoms.

“They controlled for all the right variables, and television popped out,” Calamaro said.

“We are not paying attention to how much technology children are using and how much television children are watching and what it’s doing to their sleep.”

Calamaro agreed with the study authors, who theorized that fast-paced television images could disrupt children’s brain development or might cut children’s motivation to play, exercise, draw and do other things that enhance neurodevelopment. She said television time could also simply displace sleep time.

Calamaro stressed the importance of playtime and sleep to children’s development.

“This paper really says, wait a minute, when television viewing starts young, it continues to be an issue for children’s sleep as they get older. It feeds into parents’ need to limit technology at an early age,” she said.

Marinelli said she only allows her three-year-old daughter to watch educational television and limits her to no more than half an hour a day.

“Parents must control the use of television especially in very young children and also the use of other devices, for example mobile phones,” she said.

Source; reuters

Too much exposure to TV can stall preschoolers’ cognitive development

A new study has suggested that preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people’s beliefs and desires.

Amy Nathanson, Molly Sharp, Fashina Alade, Eric Rasmussen, and Katheryn Christy, all of The Ohio State University, interviewed and tested 107 children and their parents to determine the relationship between preschoolers’ television exposure and their understanding of mental states, such as beliefs, intentions, and feelings, known as theory of mind.

Parents were asked to report how many hours of TV their children were exposed to, including background TV. The children were then given tasks based on theory of mind. These tasks assessed whether the children could acknowledge that others can have different beliefs and desires, that beliefs can be wrong, and that behaviours stem from beliefs.

The researchers found that having a bedroom TV and being exposed to more background TV was related to a weaker understanding of mental states, even after accounting for differences in performance based on age and the socioeconomic status of the parent.

However, preschoolers whose parents talked with them about TV performed better on theory of mind assessments.

“When children achieve a theory of mind, they have reached a very important milestone in their social and cognitive development. Children with more developed theories of mind are better able to participate in social relationships. These children can engage in more sensitive, cooperative interactions with other children and are less likely to resort to aggression as a means of achieving goals,” lead researcher Nathanson said.

The study is published in the Journal of Communication.

Source: Deccan Chronicle