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Children looked after by grandparents get smarter, study says

Children looked after by grandparents get smarter, study says
 Foto: 41330 /

Bologna - When mum and dad have to work, a solution has to be found for the toddler: should the child be taken care of by its grandparents or a babysitter, or its parents - perhaps by working less hours - or would daycare be a better option? It depends on the family context: in fact, daycare is an opportunity for children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, but a "risk" for children from wealthy families, as demonstrated by a study discussed at the 4th Forum of the Italian Society of Pediatricians (SIMPe) and at the Italian National Observatory on Health of Childhood and Adolescence (Paidoss), currently held in Bologna. The survey shows that, in the case of young children informally cared for by an adult, the intelligence quotient measured a few years later (between the age of 8 and 13) is 5 points higher than that of their peers who went to daycare; however, the risk of having a few extra kilos during preadolescence decreases. The study was carried out by Margherita Fort, Andrea Ichino and Giulio Zanella of the Department of Economic Sciences of the University of Bologna on about 500 families, which, between 2001 and 2005, had applied to enroll their child to one of the public daycare centers of the Municipality of Bologna. Researchers gathered data on about 7,000 children, but then focused on those ranking immediately above or below the dividing line indicated by the number of places available. "The rankings are drawn up taking into account socio-economic factors such as the presence of disabilities, the absence of a parent, the employment status of the mother and father and, in equal measure, family income and wealth. Therefore, to evaluate the last children who were accepted for daycare and the first ones who were not accepted entails carrying out an analysis of homogeneous families by social class," Giulio Zanella explains. "These families were contacted when their child was 8 to 13 years old, so that these kids could be tested to measure their IQ, to carry out personality tests and evaluate behavioral disorders, as well as measuring their body mass index." Statistically speaking, there are two significant differences: the kids who were in daycare between 0 and 2 years of age had a lower risk of obesity, but also an IQ that is 5 points lower than those who had been cared for by an adult, whether it was a grandparent or a babysitter or the parents themselves.