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Families with children with learning disabilities are continuously under financial and emotional pressure. Learning disabilities impair reception, processing, storage and response to information by an individual. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, there is a need to provide special education to children with learning disabilities. Some learning disabilities are inherent while others are caused by extrinsic factors. The article, Contribution of Tobacco Smoke Exposure to Learning Disabilities by Laura Anderko, Joe Braun and Peggy Auinger, examines the correlation between some of these acquired learning disabilities and exposure to tobacco smoke. The research focuses on prenatal and postnatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure and its effects on a child`s learning disabilities. The research gains relevance from the fact that almost 6 million children have learning disabilities. Most of these children are aged n 6 - 21. Establishing whether this number is related to tobacco exposure could help in curbing such reported cases.
The research was based on data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 1999- 2002. The survey formed an appropriate database for the research mainly because of its relevance and broad representation. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is an ongoing project that collects nationwide data in matters relating to nutrition and health. No new methods were incorporated when carrying out the research mainly because it involved working on the already existing data and the data chosen was provided by a credible source.
Over 5,420 children aged 4 - 15 had their data analyzed for the purpose of this research. The age bracket formed a perfect fit because it incorporated individuals that were most likely to be affected by tobacco smoke exposure especially in terms of learning disabilities. It was also crucial to select a huge number of subjects for study in order to standardize the data collected by the previous survey. A fair representation was also explained by the huge number of individuals chosen for the study. For this research secondary data analysis was used, meaning that data analyzed was taken from the already conducted research in order to address issues raised by different, separate researches. In the secondary data analysis, logistic regression is used. Logistic regression deals with an analysis of probabilities of events. The relationship between independent and dependent variables in the research is not linear, as in linear regression, it is expressed as a probability and in terms of odds ratios. This helps in stabilizing the research and dealing with confounding variables, which are variables that cannot be controlled or eliminated. Logistic regression can also be used to handle covariates which are continuous variables that occur throughout the research process. Covariates and confounders need to be controlled in order not to damage the quality of data.
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According to the results 10.6% (around 570) of the participants of the study showed a case of parent-reported learning disability. This number was higher than the one estimated by the previous research. Exposure to tobacco smoke increased the chances for developing learning disabilities. The odds ratio for both prenatal tobacco exposure and postnatal environmental tobacco exposure were found to be at 1.6. The highest odds ratio obtained was 2.6 in children who were continuously exposed to tobacco smoke, both during pregnancy and after birth.
The research findings showed a relationship between tobacco smoke exposure and parent-reported cases of learning disabilities in children. The research might have been affected by the presence of other multiple confounders and covariates in an individual’s life. They were most likely not taken into consideration due to the fact that the data analysis was secondary and not primary. The research attempts to iron out the issues caused by confounders and covariates by employing logistic regression. Secondary data analysis however proves necessary for this research. This is mainly because the data required had to be longitudinal and fully representative of the population in question; a factor that required time and resources that might not have been available to the researchers. The variables studied include nutritional status, educational status, exposure risks and learning disabilities. These variables are in line with the main objective of the research as well as the primary data contents, a factor which further solidifies the results obtained. In conclusion, the research showed how prenatal and postnatal environmental exposure to tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of developing learning disabilities in children. This calls for reduction in tobacco exposure levels amongst children in order to reduce the overall risk of developing learning disabilities. According to the article, the number of children with learning disabilities will decrease by approximately 750,000, if tobacco exposure is ceased.
Evidence-based nursing practices, if embraced, foster quality service and competence in the nursing profession. This is because issues are analyzed critically and with regard to statistics and evidence. Hence solutions are developed to precisely tackle the issues arising from evidence obtained. Data obtained the research will provide me with the right tools to offer quality care as a nurse. In terms of strengths, my greatest ones are attention to details and striving for excellence. These will help me in offering quality care to patients in a manner that upholds all the principles of professionalism.
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