Estrogen could promote healthy development of preterm infants

Premature birth alters the balance of interneurons in the cerebral cortex that can be restored with estrogen treatment, according to a study of human brain tissue and preterm rabbits published in JNeurosci.

Infants born prior to a full-term pregnancy are at increased risk of neurobehavioral disorders linked to defects in interneurons, which continue to develop through the end of the third trimester. Prematurity is also associated with a large reduction in levels of the hormone estrogen.

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C.S. Mott poll addresses child safety at amusement parks

(HealthDay)—One in five parents say they have not made plans with their children about what to do if they became separated at an amusement park or carnival, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.

In a survey that included more than 1,200 parents of children aged 5 to 12, the poll authors also asked parents what they would do if ride operators did not enforce safety rules or if they suspected the operator of unsafe behavior. Nine in 10 parents said they would report suspicions that the operator was drunk or on drugs, and 69 percent said they would report failure to enforce safety rules, such as seat belts or height restrictions. Nearly six in 10 parents believe ride operators should undergo random alcohol and drug testing, with 13 percent supporting weekly testing, 13 percent in favor of monthly testing, and 3 percent backing yearly testing. Eleven percent said checks should only be done if there were suspicions of drug or alcohol use, the survey found. While most parents said they would report a ride operator who appeared impaired by alcohol or drugs, less than half said they would report a ride operator who used a cellphone while operating a ride.

In 2016, U.S. emergency departments dealt with 30,000 injuries linked to amusement parks and carnivals, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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This Is Why Cardi B Doesn't Have a Nanny for Baby Kulture

A week after announcing the birth of her first child, Kulture Kiari, Cardi B shared an adorable update on how motherhood is treating her. With the help of a toy monkey, Cardi told her Instagram followers that she feels blessed and added that she’s incredibly grateful for her own parents. 

"I’ve been blessed since I came out of my mom’s vagina because of my parents. Those are my biggest blessings, and I’m so thankful and I’m so grateful for them," the rapper said. 

Cardi also shared that she hasn’t yet gotten a nanny for Kulture because she says she just wants to learn how to be a mom (not that having a nanny would preclude that, but you do you, Cardi). "I want to enjoy every single second of it since I’m going back to work," she explained. 

Cardi doesn’t have a nanny, but luckily, her parents and sister are there to help out as she navigates life as a new mom. 

"My mom has not left my sight, not one time. This is her first grandkid… So this is all new to her again, just as it is new to me," Cardi said. "My sister has not left my sight at all. She’s such a good helping hand, and my dad, he’s just running errands for me in New York." 

Can you say #FamilyGoals? 

It’s been an exciting week for Cardi — she also scored the most nominations at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards followed closely by fellow new (again) parents the Carters (that’s Beyoncé and Jay-Z, of course). 

Cardi fully intends to return to work when she’s ready because contrary to what the haters say, a woman can simultaneously be an amazing mom and have a killer career. "As a woman, why can’t I have both? Why do I gotta choose a career or a baby?" she said during an interview on The Breakfast Club in April. "Like, why can’t I have both? I want both." 

We’re totally confident that she’ll excel at both — and we’re so glad Cardi’s vlogging her journey so we get to follow along. 

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Why I Became a Single Foster Mom at 34

The nightmares started immediately: I dream I’m sleeping soundly and awake to a pounding on the door so loud it rattles the walls and renders the white-noise machine useless. It’s the Administration for Children’s Services, and they’re here to take my baby.  

One caseworker is carrying an oversize black duffel bag and starts filling it with toys and clothes and diapers while the other picks up the baby and walks out the door. They say nothing to me: They simply arrive, depart and break my world. I chase them down the street, screaming after them that they forgot Bear-Bear, the brilliantly named bigger-than-the-baby stuffed animal. They drive off and leave me standing in the street, barefoot in the snow.   

I wake up from this imagined hell to the baby babbling in her crib, the white-noise machine drowning out the sounds of Manhattan and blood pulsating in my ears.  

My baby is still here. But someday, she might not be, because she’s not actually “my” baby. She’s a foster child.   

Buttons — a nickname cleverly chosen because of her little button nose and propensity to tug on my shirt buttons (sometimes tugging them entirely off) — arrived at my apartment after three hours’ notice from ACS. I became an insta-mom, which is not unlike any other mom except that instead of a squishy infant, I suddenly had an 11-month-old baby who crawled across my floor and kept trying to gnaw on my iPhone.   

The love I felt for Buttons was instant and fierce, which is to say: I became her mother.   

Coming from a family with two internationally adopted cousins, fostering and adoption were always my plan. My reasoning was simple: There were so many horrific foster homes out there. I wanted to be a good one. And since I was fast approaching 35 with a career in technology management and a spectacularly supportive arsenal of friends and family, I decided it was time. I completed the requirements to become a foster parent: training, a home study, background checks, fingerprints and a volume of paperwork equivalent to that required to rent a luxury apartment in Manhattan.   

I knew that my love for children wasn’t contingent on biology; I grew attached to cute babies on the subway (puppies too). I could love any child. And yet I naively, stupidly, thought I could just foster. That I would be able to eventually give back a child I loved — because that would be my role as a foster parent. My friends and family all laugh about that now. I laugh the hardest. The idea of giving back Buttons is inconceivable to everyone in our lives, especially me.   

Two months after Buttons arrived on my doorstep, I met Chloe, Buttons’ biological mother. Prior to being placed with me, Buttons was in the custody of Chloe, who was herself in foster care. After Buttons was removed from her care, Chloe vanished for nine weeks, whereabouts unknown. She missed Buttons’ first birthday, her first steps, her first words.  

When I received the call that Chloe had surfaced and wanted to see Buttons, the nightmares became more vivid, more sweat-inducing; they took longer to recover from. But despite the nightmares, nothing could have prepared me for our first visit.  

Chloe was young, 17 at the time, and beautiful. Her eyes were bright, and her smile was wide yet shy. She approached Buttons in the foster care agency visitation room with the energy and familiarity of a mother greeting her child. Buttons recoiled and ran to me. I was unsure whether that was because she didn’t remember Chloe or because she did.  

After several more unsuccessful attempts to get Buttons’ attention and affection, Chloe sank into the vinyl couch and sobbed. I offered her water, tissues and then privacy.   

The visits thereafter improved, but only marginally. They were still supervised, still in a small room and still consisted of Buttons fleeing from Chloe and finding comfort in my or her babysitter’s arms. 

Over time, I learned more about Chloe: her family, her history, her goals. During one visit, during which I sat in the room with Chloe and Buttons, Chloe spoke of her plan to get a job in fashion and get Buttons back. She wanted to provide a good life for Buttons and give her everything she had never had while growing up herself. She spoke with hopeful determination akin to someone making New Year’s resolutions on Dec. 31, which is to say without acknowledging the true depth of the situation — the fact that Chloe has an abuse charge on her record and that her child is in foster care. Chloe getting Buttons back would involve far more than a stable job in fashion and the funds to buy Baby Gap jeans.  

I want Chloe to succeed in life. I want her to be a productive member of society, to have a job that supports her, to break the generational dependency on social and government services, to get her mental health managed with the proper combination of therapy and medication. I want her to experience sobriety, healthy relationships and days that don’t involve blinding rage. I want her to be happy and at peace.  

I wish her all the good she hasn’t yet experienced — but only after Buttons is permanently mine. And I hate myself for that.   

Children aren’t placed into foster care for being fed fast food instead of organic cuisine. ACS doesn’t pluck children from their homes because they skinned their knee when the parent wasn’t paying attention. They’re placed into care for neglect and abuse, a range of stories that contain only sadness and horror — stories that make you cringe and ones that make your insides ice cold.   

Everything about foster care is sad, maddening and bewildering — except for the children. Except for Buttons.  

Buttons offers face-engulfing smiles and squeals of delight when we play. In the morning, she stands up in her crib and shouts, “Hellooooooo!” at me until I pick her up. She then snuggles into my neck for a moment before wiggling to get down and play. When she cries, she turns to me for comfort. She calls me “Mama!” with the exclamation mark — always loud, always excited, always making a statement. How could I let her go?   

I can’t, and I won’t — not emotionally, anyway. 

Buttons’ current foster care goal is reunification. I don’t know if I will have to give her up or if I will someday be her forever family. I won’t know until I either adopt her or she returns to Chloe. If the latter happens, I don’t know how I will recover — or if I ever will. 

I don’t know what the scene would look like if Buttons is reunited with her birth mother. But I imagine I won’t actually end up standing barefoot in the snow — and Buttons won’t actually be yanked from our home in the middle of the night. If it happens, it will likely be a “normal” visit at the agency with a simple hug and without Buttons understanding the permanency of the goodbye. But if it does happen, I will ensure she’s holding Bear-Bear.  

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This Disney Princess Changed My Daughter's Life

“Mom!” My 3-year-old shrieked. “She looks just like me! She’s a princess and she looks like me! Look!" The excitement emanating from her voice was nothing like I had heard before. This was bigger than the box of Smarties she was allowed to eat before dinner, bigger than that time we saw Paw Patrol characters at the library, bigger than the Thomas the Tank Engine jammies she got for Christmas. This was the kind of excitement that knew no bounds. This was Moana: a fearless brown girl on my daughter’s TV screen.

My daughter had recently gotten into Frozen because she heard the soundtrack at preschool and frequently requested we play the songs on YouTube for her so she could practice her dance moves. We had listened to the songs over and over again until she had every hair flick and step down pat. She pretended to be Elsa while my 1-year-old was told to play Anna, and the two of them would twirl and sway to the music every night after dinner.

After one such dance party, my husband and I had heard all of “Let it Go” as often as we could bear, so we suggested she dance to another song. The next suggestion on YouTube was “How Far I’ll go” from Moana. We hadn’t seen the movie or heard the songs, so we decided to give it a try.

Moana came on the screen, effervescent with her olive skin and long, curly dark hair. I watched my 3-year-old, waiting for her to start twirling. Instead, she just stood there, mouth agape, eyes wide open, staring at the screen. Her lips slowly inched into a wide smile and then a toothy grin. She was glowing. She was ecstatic.

My daughter is not of Polynesian heritage like Moana. She doesn’t care much for the ocean, either. She is a Pakistani-Dutch-English-Canadian toddler who loves steam engines and Disney princesses. Her favorite colors are pink and purple, and she loves running fast at the park and hanging on the monkey bars.

None of that mattered the moment she laid eyes on Moana.

Image: Image: Disney. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.
More: How White Families Can Teach Kids to Use Their Privilege for Good

In Moana, she saw herself. My daughter saw her own dark curly hair and her own olive skin. She saw her own big brown eyes and wide smile. She saw herself. For the first time, she saw a Disney princess that looked like her. And it changed her world.

I don’t know exactly how watching Moana affects her, but I know it gives her happiness. She doesn’t have the words to tell me about the importance of children of color seeing other people of color on TV. She doesn’t know how this is a recent movement and that it is far from perfect. She doesn’t know there is still a long, long way to go, but she knows it matters. She understands that she doesn’t look like Elsa or Anna. She’s old enough to notice that her skin isn’t porcelain white like many of the characters she watches so lovingly. She can tell that her hair isn’t straight and blond. She sees the differences, even at 3 years old.

Researchers from Tufts University write in The Conversation that children’s television is now more diverse than it has ever been. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people. What is profoundly important, the researchers say, is that it’s vital for children to see characters who look and sound like them and their families.

Why? Because “kids notice differences,” as the researchers so eloquently put it.

Before this moment, I didn’t realize I needed to have conversations about race and ethnicity with my 3-year-old, but clearly, she’s aware of much more than I thought she was. She’s bright and observant and intensely detail-oriented. She knows what she looks like and what her idols on TV look like, and she can see that the two are not the same.

My daughter continues to amaze me with her intellect. She teaches me something new every day. This lesson is a deeply important one. I’ve started searching for more TV shows and movies she can enjoy that portray people of color. I likely won’t be able to find the perfect Pakistani-Dutch-English-Canadian mix like her, but I hope I’ll have more than just a few stereotypical options to choose from.

I hope that by the time she is older, she is able to see many people like her on TV and in the movies. I hope her children don’t have a moment like she did, completely in awe that it was even possible for someone like her to be a Disney princess. By that time, they will — I hope — already know that this is possible. It won’t be an unusual and exciting moment; it will just be the norm.

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Justin Timberlake Is '100 Percent Dad' — Even on Tour

Justin Timberlake’s transition from slick boy-band star and late-night party-hopper to total family man is complete, people. Those of you who worried that JT might never settle down: You can relax. It’s all good. Timberlake is all hubby and all papa when he’s offstage these days according to a source for Us Weekly

“Gone is the partying and hanging out until all hours of the night," the source reported. "Justin is a very different man this tour around. He has been a family man.”

Timberlake is currently on the European leg of his Man of the Woods tour with wife Jessica Biel and their son, Silas, 3. Despite being ridiculously busy, Timberlake has been making his time off count with "touristy things" all across Europe with Biel and Silas, the source said. "[W]hen it’s family time off stage, he’s 100 percent dad… They’re having so much fun. It’s nice to see.”

Timberlake’s also been sure to have special dates with Biel, including a stop at the Eiffel Tower and a visit to Wimbledon on July 10.

Married life clearly agrees with Timberlake and Biel. A source close to Biel told Us, "Jessica and Justin are true best friends and that’s why they work so well. They love spending time together. They don’t have to be doing much, but they are still laughing and having a good time.”

And fatherhood is Timberlake’s favorite gig, as evidenced by this incredibly sweet Father’s Day post on his Instagram feed:

Timberlake wrote, "The last 3 years of my life have brought more joy than I could ever imagine. Being a father is such a trip… an amazing discovery every day. My son: It is my honor to be your Daddy. You make me feel a love that I didn’t know existed. I will ALWAYS be there… to pick you up when you fall, to lift you up when you are ready to soar, and to remind you that your humility will be your guide through this thing called life."

JT, keep this up and we might just forget the whole denim-and-Britney phase. 

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About half of parents use cell phones while driving with young children in the car

A new study from a team of researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) found that in the previous three months, about half of parents talked on a cell phone while driving when their children between the ages of 4 and 10 were in the car, while one in three read text messages and one in seven used social media.

The study also found a correlation between cell phone use while children were in the car and other risky driving behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt and driving under the influence of alcohol whether or not children were present in the car.

The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Crash fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving constitute a public health crisis in the U.S., resulting in about one in four motor vehicle crashes. Previous research suggests that causes of distracted driving by parents and caregivers include talking on hand-held or hands-free cell phones or using phones to text, email, or access the Internet.

Researchers wanted to identify specific factors associated with cell phone-related distracted driving in parents and caregivers of children between the ages of 4 and 10.

“Technology has become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives,” said lead author Catherine McDonald, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a Senior Fellow with CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Family and Community Health Department at Penn Nursing. “The results from this research reinforce that risky driving behaviors rarely occur in isolation, and lay the groundwork for interventions and education specifically aimed at parents who drive with young children in their cars.”

The study was conducted using an online sample of 760 adults from 47 U.S. states. The respondents had to be at least 18 years old, a parent or routine caregiver of a child between the ages of 4 and 10, and had driven their oldest child between those ages at least six times in the preceding three months.

In the preceding three months, 52.2 percent of parents had talked on a hands-free phone while driving with a young child in the car, while 47 percent had done so with a hand-held phone. The study also found that 33.7 percent of parents read text messages while 26.7 percent sent text messages while driving with children. Social media also contributed to distracted driving, with 13.7 percent of respondents reporting using social media while driving with children.

The study also looked at child restraint system (CRS) use for children in the same age group. The study found that 14.5 percent of parents did not consistently use their typical CRS when driving with their children. Drivers who did not consistently use their typical CRS were more likely to engage in cell phone use while driving.

Finally, the study looked at parent and caregiver risky behavior associated with driving, including not wearing a seat belt as a driver and driving under the influence of alcohol, whether or not their children were in the car. The researchers saw a direct correlation between a history of driving under the influence and increased likelihood of all types of cell phone use while driving with children in the car. All cell phone-related distracted driving behaviors other than talking on a hands-free phone increased if a person did not always wear their seat belt while driving with children.

“When clinicians are discussing child passenger safety with families, they can use the opportunity to ask and educate about parental driving behaviors such as seat belt use and cell phone use while driving,” McDonald said. “This type of education is especially pivotal today, as in-vehicle technology is rapidly changing and there is increased—and seemingly constant—reliability on cell phones. However, it is also important to note that even parents who did not engage in risky behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt as a driver or driving under the influence of alcohol, still used their cell phones while driving.”

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Cardi B & Offset Welcome Baby Girl

Ring the alarm, because we’ve got some happy news to brighten your day: Cardi B is a mom! The rapper shared the exciting news on Instagram Wednesday morning with a beautiful photo of herself in which she flaunts her baby bump against the backdrop of some seriously gorgeous flowers. 

"Kulture Kiari Cephus 07/10/18 @offsetyrn," she captioned the post. There are still no photos of little Kulture but something tells me she’s adorable. (I may or may not be anxiously checking Cardi B’s Instagram all day in hopes I’ll get a glimpse of Kulture.) 

Cardi B officially announced her pregnancy — and debuted her baby bump — during a Saturday Night Live appearance in April. (Totally casual.) The 25-year-old rapper has already had a busy year. In September she secretly married fellow rapper Offset, a member of the trio Migos, at their home in Atlanta. 

"There are so many moments that I share with the world and then there are moments that I want to keep for myself," Cardi B wrote when the marriage was announced. "Getting married was one of those moments!"

Cardi B does everything on her own terms, and that’s one of the many reasons we love her. For his part, Offset isn’t intimidated by his wife’s success. "We really love each other. She’s real. I wanted real. I also wanted successful," he told Rolling Stone in June, adding that the women in his life ran the show when he was growing up in Atlanta.

Offset also offered a word of advice to men everywhere: "Guys, fellas! You’ll lose your wife trying to stop them from being the best they can." 

Amen to that — there’s nothing more attractive than a man who supports and values the success of women. Kulture has two amazing parents who will undoubtedly inspire her to be the best version of herself, regardless of what career path she chooses. But the girl’s a day old — she’s got time to figure it out. 

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US Says Breast Isn't Best, Angers Moms & Docs Alike

News that the United States refused to sign — and also reportedly aggressively pressured other countries to back down on — a United Nations-affiliated resolution in support of breastfeeding is making shockwaves across the globe.

In a time when “breast is best” and "fed is best" discourses seem to be warring, the news that the U.S. took a staunchly anti-breastfeeding stance comes as a surprise to many, including global partners who have worked with President Obama’s administration and others to promote breastfeeding in years past.

The pro-breastfeeding resolution, proposed at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, was originally supported by many countries. But the U.S. claimed the resolution stigmatized mothers who formula-fed their babies; the U.S. constituents bullied the other countries in attendance, including nearly a dozen from Africa and Latin America, to rescind their support for the measure. An official from the Department of Health and Human Services, too afraid to share their identity, told The New York Times that “the resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children. We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.” 

Of course, no one wants to downplay the value and importance of formula as a viable breast milk alternative for infant nutrition. The problem, though, is that the U.S. officials’ decision wasn’t guided by altruism so much as cronyism: The U.S. is one of the largest producers of baby formula in the world, with billions of dollars a year in revenue and a global valuation of more than $66 billion expected by 2027 according to Future Market Insights. Many believe the Trump administration’s position is entirely due to its allegiance to the U.S. food lobby.

The only thing more appalling than aligning with lobby dollars over medical expertise (and global alliance) is the way in which the U.S. appeared to handle the whole situation. Multiple eyewitnesses reported that reps from the U.S. essentially blackmailed global partners, including threatening to revoke U.S. military and other support for countries such as Ecuador.

Personally, I’m certainly not in the "breast is everything" camp — far from it. In fact, I’ve felt firsthand the shame of not being able to successfully breastfeed — and the sense of being a "failure" because I turned to formula. "Fed is best," and that’s the truth. But even we formula-feeding moms cannot and should not agree with any thinking that puts bottom lines above the well-being of our babies — particularly those whose parents cannot afford formula, who are living in areas with compromised water quality or who may just need a little bit of guidance to get breastfeeding off the ground.

"We cannot allow the U.S. to bully countries to suit their own commercial interests, nor can we allow them to undermine breastfeeding. The health and survival of our children is at stake," nurse practitioner and international board-certified lactation consultant Julie Bouchet-Horwitz of the New York Milk Bank told SheKnows. "The public knows that breast milk is healthier than artificial baby milk. The high initiation rate of breastfeeding in the U.S. confirms that women want to breastfeed," Bouchet-Horwitz continued.

A comprehensive study out of Ohio State University supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that breast milk is the healthiest form of nutrition for babies during the first six months of life, and it also provides important antibodies to help fight infections well beyond the baby years.

"In the face of clear evidence which shows that breastfeeding provides the most optimal health opportunities for mother’s and babies alike, it is devastating that this administration would come out against the language proposal to ‘protect, promote and support breast-feeding’ as the healthiest way to feed their infants," certified lactation consultant Jada Shapiro told SheKnows. "Breastfeeding is the most fundamental and simplest way to improve infant and maternal health and to literally save women’s and babies’ lives. While formula absolutely has its place, in many places around the world, this means using compromised water, which often leads to diarrhea, other illness and death in infants."

Indeed, there is good reason to question the U.S.’ emphatic promotion of formula (aside from the Mafia-esque tactics the Trump administration employed in a diplomatic setting on a global stage). In fact, according to a report put out earlier this year by the Changing Markets Foundation, formula companies were found to be marketing aggressively and inconsistently and to be making unproven claims (such as the idea that their products could cure constipation or were "as healthy as mother’s milk").

This is certainly not the first time our current president has sided with profits over people. Still, of all the things Trump has rejected, I never would have guessed the breast would be one of them. Yet here we are.

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Child passport photographs ineffective for reliable identification at borders: study

Passport style photographs are not a reliable way to validate a child’s identity at border control or in child protection cases, according to a new study into the facial identification of infants.

Psychologists presented research participants with pairs of photos, some showing only infant faces and some showing both an infant and an older child’s face, and asked them to determine whether the image pair showed the same child or two different children.

For the images of children who were less than a year old, half of the pairs showed the same child while half showed different children. Results demonstrated that, on average, participants made mistakes on 28 per cent of pairs.

Because UK child passports are valid for up to five years, the researchers also presented participants with photo pairs where an infant photo was shown with a photo of a child aged between four and five years old. Half of the pairs showed pictures of the same child while half showed different children. Participants found this task more difficult, getting it wrong on 36 per cent of pairs.

Although gender could be determined from the child photos, accuracy was low when participants were asked to judge the gender of the infants. Participants also found it difficult to ignore changes in hair colour or style across images, despite the likelihood of such changes for a child over a five year period.

In comparison with current work, previous studies using photographs to identify adults showed significantly higher accuracy rates, with participants matching photographs correctly around 90 per cent of the time.

The results suggest that child passport photos are not as reliable as those of adults, and have implications for border control in countries which require children to travel on their own five year passport for security purposes – including combatting child trafficking – such as the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia.

Dr. Robin Kramer, lead researcher from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, UK, said: “The results of our experiments provide evidence that child facial photographs are ineffective for use in real-world identification situations such as border control or issues of child protection. Our findings suggest that alternative methods of identification should be considered.

“While these experiments have demonstrated that, on the whole, it is more difficult to match identities using infant faces rather than adult faces, the next step is to investigate why this is the case and how we might attempt to improve performance for real-world practitioners.”

During the experiments, no attempt was made to match images according to hair colour or gender. As such, the performance levels in these studies were higher than could be expected in real world applications since fraudsters would intentionally choose passport images that best approximate an infant or child that is travelling illegally.

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