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For the record

Review on children in nurseries and heart disease

An article in The Daily Mail on 12th September 2011 cited a review by Aric Sigman in The Biologist that stated young children in nurseries have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to long-term detrimental effects such as heart disease.  

The review is yet to be published, but on his website Aric Sigman says it intends “to redress an existing imbalance in the perception of daycare as a …‘benign ‘ lifestyle practice” by selecting “studies that were generally negative” in regard to their findings on daycare.

Including  mainly negative findings does not allow for the reader to get an overview of the status of evidence. This is one of the biggest challenges within scientific research, to interpret the results of individual studies in the context of other research that has been done. Systematic reviews are a way to do this; they identify all available evidence to answer the research question, and the researchers must search for all published peer-reviewed studies and any unpublished data that may be relevant.

Dr Alan Dangour, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:  "Systematic Reviews are an enormously powerful tool available to scientists to assess the quality, and synthesise the totality, of the available evidence on a specific question in an unbiased way.”

Read a comment in response to further debate about Sigman's article by VoYS member Jaime Earnest.

Document type: For The Record

Published: 12 September 2011

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