The following research paper is to study the cognitive and non-cognitive development of infants aged nine months about the effect of breastfeeding them and other events. This research paper is based on a study on about 11000 families in Ireland whose report is titled "Growing up in Ireland national longitudinal study of children; the infants and their families" (Williams et al). The study was aimed at testing the development of the infants both physically and in terms of health condition, studying their social and emotional wellbeing, as well as their cognitive development.
The purpose of this study was to supply the department of health and children with scientific data that will help in policy development about infants care. Its goal was to help them improve the wellbeing of children through more understanding of their development characteristics. The study would also help and promote the development of children by offering them the required care and support they need. The study also served as the voice for the voiceless infants and children. Through this, their concerns would reach the respective respondents who address them.
The objectives of the study were:
- Identify children's life in Ireland to determine what may be shared and healthy development versus uncommon and challenged development
- Develop a chart of the children in Ireland to document and understand their progress from infancy to adulthood.
- Identify and documents of factors hindering and delaying children development
- Determine prevalent issues causing social imbalance, educational challenges, and poor health challenges.
The hypothesis for this study is that all children in Ireland have a healthy development pattern, and enjoy the care of their parents. They also have healthy cognitive and temperamental development, and their upbringing status does not affect their mental development.
The subjects for this study were infants aged nine months and their primary and secondary caregivers who the respondents to most of the study questions. A total of 11,100 infants and their primary and secondary caregivers were sampled from Ireland's Child Benefit Register born between December 2007 and May 2008. The study was conducted between September 2008 and April 2009. Random selection method was applied, where 65% of all the approached families formed the final sample. The sampled was weighted on external population estimates to give a correct representation of all Ireland infants.
Growing in Ireland study is a descriptive study as opposed to experimental research. The study aims at understanding the developmental pattern of infants in Ireland, and since then selected subject was made of infants on nine months old, their parent and other childcare adults were the respondents to the questions. The study aimed at collecting and describing the characteristics of the selected subject as opposed to manipulating the variables to get an outcome.
Different variables have been used to describe the child development, and how they relate with the environment, they are raised as well as their health and physical development, regarding their feeding patterns. Independent variables are those variables that are being manipulated to test their effect on the independent variables. Since the study is descriptive and not experimental, these variables are not managed at the point of research, but data is recorded about how different variables have affected the outcomes of various dependent variables.
The first independent variables are child breastfeeding period, on which the child's cognitive development was tested. Other dependents variables are family structure, whether married or single, family financial status, childcare educational level and residential status of the childcare families and how each of them shaped the child's physical and health condition. Length and weight measurements were recorded for about 97% of sampled infants, which the average weight for them as determined to be 9.7kg and average height was determined to be 72.9cm. Other measurements taken were the head circumference of the sample infants, which was recorded to an average of 46.5 cm.
Some of the results of the study were that; 14 % of the infants were in a lone-parent family, in which most of the families were in the lower group of earnings. Another result is that the biological mother provided most of the infant's primary care services, whereas the biological father served as the secondary childcare. The study also found that most of the mothers never realized that they were pregnant until five weeks later. Mothers in higher-income scale looked for more ultrasound services as opposed to low-income mothers.
Regarding infants health, most of the mothers reported having their infant's health being good at birth with a total of 97% of the respondents, and 99% of them said that their infants' were healthy at the age of 9 months. Most of the infants were recorded to be enjoying 10 hours of sleep daily, with those whose mothers were working away from home, remaining awake even up to 7 pm.
The primary conclusion made from this study is that an infant's development is controlled and shaped by their parents and the environment they are raised. Those infants from low-income families had poor health and cognitive development, probably because of not getting the best care. Another conclusion made is that infants who got enough breastfeeding of about six months on mother's milk only had better cognitive and physical developments compared to their counter bands.
Personal Review on the Study
Growing up in Ireland is one of the rigorous studies that have been conducted regarding the child development characteristic. The study aimed at developing a comprehensive report about the qualitative development of children and their cognitive development as shaped by the environment and circumstances they grow at and nutritional effect on their physical and cognitive development. The study helped in understanding the factors that lead to the wellbeing or lack of on Irish children as shaped by their encounter at an infant age. The review is essential, and it would help the policymakers to develop scientifically informed policies that will help build the wellbeing of children and their families.
Among the things I like about the study, is the thoroughness and the accuracy of the data collected as well as its accurate representation of the society it was obtained from. The study collected data from primary caregivers of the infants who were nine months old. By getting the data from this group of respondents, the researchers were able to get the most accurate data as it was acquired from the first-hand respondents and present to the respondents. The researchers also managed to get a larger sample of respondents. Obtaining a sample of 11,100 from a possible population of about 43,000 of the births registered in that year was a significant enough sample worth to present a true reflection of the society.
Nevertheless, the same sample collected prevented some disadvantages, which, in my view, weakened the findings. The study was based on the caregivers of the infants' sample, both primary and secondary caregivers. The problem of this sample is that it is based on others opinion about the subject matter. In as much as the respondents could respond on behalf of their respondents, their findings can't be said to be an accurate representation of the infants' developmental factors. The reason is that some of the respondents, and more so the ones with a low level of education, may fail to understand real factors developing to cognitive development and may more be judgmental and generalize many of the behaviors of these infants without addressing the root cause.
The researchers failed to address some of the questions which contribute to the cognitive development of children and their wellbeing. Some of the issues the research was unable to address include the social status of the infants' families. The study relied more on the financial and academic state of their caregivers as well as the health of their parents. But of equivalently greater importance to the development of these infants, in the social family life. Families who live together and in harmony would help the infants to develop a sense of love and self-confidence as opposed to families are in constant chaos.
Nevertheless, the study was a great success with a sample large enough to represent the true reflection of the society at test. The example will also be used as a reference document in developing more researches for the identified infants from the age of 9 months to 9 years. The operational definitions were handy in their measurement of researchers' variables. The operational definitions are a true reflection of what they are in the data collection environment and therefore help achieve research goals. Consequently, I look forward to finding the track development of the study of the infants to the age of 9 years to act as an excellent scientific reference for physical and cognitive development.
Williams, James, et al. Growing Up in Ireland National Longitudinal Study of Children. The Infants and Their Families. The Stationery Office, 2010. www.researchgate.net/publication/271192227_Growing_up_in_Ireland_national_longitudinal_study_of_children_The_infants_and_their_families.
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