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BONES & JOINTS
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CANCER
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CAREGIVING
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DENTAL, ORAL
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DIABETES
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Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
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DIET, NUTRITION
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DISABILITIES
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EYE CARE, VISION
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FITNESS
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
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GENERAL HEALTH
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HEAD & NECK
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Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
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HEARING
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HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
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INFECTIOUS DISEASE
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INFERTILITY
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KID'S HEALTH
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MEN'S HEALTH
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MENTAL HEALTH
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PAIN
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PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
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Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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SENIORS
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Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
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SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
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Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
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Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills

Parents who engage their young children in conversational give-and-take help their offspring gain a significant leg up in terms of language acquisition, new Dutch research reveals.

The boost to childhood language proficiency appears to be predicated on allowing children to engage in so-called "serious" conversations with their family members -- dialogues that permit them to make meaningful contributions to the subject at hand.

The findings are based on the results of a study that tracked 150 Dutch children aged 3 to 6 for a follow-up period of three years. The children were from a mixture of families of Turkish, Moroccan-Berber, and Dutch backgrounds.

Lead researcher Lotte Henrichs noted that as soon as children start school, they are confronted with a need to follow difficult and sometimes abstract concepts, expressed by their teachers through the routine use of complex sentence structures and summed up by the term "academic language."

By its nature, academic language is part of the normal student-teacher discourse, and has a scientific texture that is typically marked by multiple clauses and conjunctions, Henrichs explained.

The study revealed that parents who encourage their kids to contribute to conversations are preparing their children for gaining a natural proficiency in this particular sort of linguistic skill.

Additionally, parents who read to their children, tell them stories and initiate conversations on interesting subjects also give their kids a head start in being able to acquire the kind of academic language skills they will need throughout their education.

The work was funded by the Dutch Programme Council for Educational Research, part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, based in Den Haag.

SOURCES: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, news release, May 12, 2010 Published on: May 19, 2010