Swedish preschools use GPS to avoid losing kids

Toddlers adorned with GPS transmitters are becoming an increasingly common sight at Swedish daycares and preschools in an effort to make it easier for staff to find tots who are hiding or have gone astray.

Swedish preschools use GPS to avoid losing kids

At the Humlan preschool in Borlänge in central Sweden, children’s reflective vests are equipped with a transmitter which emits a sound if the children wander beyond the school’s boundaries.

“The transmitter is a form of extra security. But we still stand and count the children all the time,” the school’s Pernilla Rundqvist told the TT news agency.

In the two years since the vests came into use at the school, a child has never strayed too far from the rest of the group.

However, the GPS alarms have been known to go off even if a child wanders close to the edge of the school zone.

In Malmö in southern Sweden, the Kronprinsen preschool is carrying out a trial whereby children are equipped with GPS transmitters to make it easier for staff to find kids, forgotten or lost during class outings, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reports.

The children have been issued a GPS unit which sends a signal to a smartphone.

If a child wanders beyond a set radius, the telephone issues alerts the bearer that the child is missing, at the same time providing information about the child’s whereabouts.

School officials emphasíse, however, that new tech gadgets never will fully replace the watchful eye of preschool staff.

Traffic safety company Momenta has equipped between 100 and 150 preschools across the country with signal-emitting reflective vests.

If a child strays beyond a set area, the vest sends an alert to a staff member’s portable monitor.

“The alarm means that kids never manage to disappear far away from the group,” said Momenta’s Sven-Erik Karlsson.

The radio signal has a range of up to 1,500 metres and can be detected by any sensor picking up the signal.

“GPS has its advantages. If a child is in the woods you can see almost exactly where the child is. The drawback, as we see it, is that children don’t only disappear outdoors. They can hide in a building and there it’s not always a certainty that the GPS signal will get through,” said Karlsson.

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Acupuncture could help your baby stop crying: study

Swedish researchers say acupuncture "appears to reduce crying" in babies suffering from colic.

Acupuncture could help your baby stop crying: study
File photo of a five-week old baby. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

But their work was criticized by colleagues in the medical field, with one calling the study methodology “appalling”.

A duo from Lund University's medicine faculty tested the traditional Chinese needle-piercing remedy in a trial involving nearly 150 babies between two and eight weeks old.

They reported their results in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, published by the BMJ – formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

Compared to babies who did not undergo the needle treatment, infants who received acupuncture over two weeks exhibited “a significant relative reduction” in crying, the team found.

Such research can be controversial. Acupuncture is invasive, potentially painful, and its benefits are not universally accepted.

Organizations such as the British Medical Acupuncture Society says it is used to treat muscle and postoperative pain, as well as nausea.

But some think acupuncture's effects are that of a placebo, meaning people feel better because they believe it works. The National Institutes of Health, the main UN research agency, says there is “considerable controversy” around its value.

Colic affects as many as one in five families, and is diagnosed when a baby cries for more than three hours per day on more than three days per week.

Why it occurs is not well understood. Indigestion, trapped wind and intolerance to cows' milk have been identified as possible causes.

For the study, colicky babies were divided into three groups of 49. One received “minimal” acupuncture treatment, while another was given up to five 30-second needlings per session. The third group was not given any needle treatment.

“Significantly fewer infants who received acupuncture continued to cry/fuss excessively,” the researchers concluded.

This suggested “acupuncture may be an effective treatment option” for babies crying more than three hours a day.

File photo of an adult person receiving acupuncture. Photo: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Criticism of the study was harsh. David Colquhoun, a professor of pharmacology at University College London, described the researchers' analysis of data as “incompetent” and “appalling”.

The study “certainly doesn't show that it [acupuncture] works”, he told the Science Media Centre.

“What parent would think that sticking needles into their baby would stop it crying? The idea sounds bizarre. It is.”

Edzard Ernst from the University of Exeter said the study showed “almost the opposite of what the authors conclude”.

“We know that colicky babies respond even to minimal attention, and this trial confirms that a little additional TLC” – Tender Loving Care – “will generate an effect”.

A total of 388 acupuncture treatments were performed on the babies, the authors reported. On 200 occasions the infant did not cry at all after being pierced, 157 times they cried for up to a minute, and 31 times for more than that.

“The acupuncturists reported bleeding (a single drop of blood) on 15 occasions,” the authors said.

The treatment “may be considered ethically acceptable” if it managed to reduce excessive crying in the longer term, they added.

The report did not indicate what acupuncture points were used.

Article written by AFP's Mariètte Le Roux.