Public Release: 

The impact of 'nature-deficit disorder' on the health of children

American Academy of Pediatrics

SAN FRANCISCO - Children can more easily identify obscure cartoon characters than the native plants and animals that live outside their front door. And this lack of connection to the natural world can have a profound impact on their health and well-being.

Richard Louv, the author who coined the phrase, "nature-deficit disorder," will address this issue in a plenary address at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition Saturday, Oct. 2. His talk is scheduled to begin at 11:10 a.m. PT at the Moscone Center.

In his talk, Louv will speak about the transformation in the relationship between children and nature, and how society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature. That unintended message is delivered by schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into the legal and regulatory structures of many local communities.

"A growing body of scientific evidence shows just how important direct contact with the outdoors is to healthy child development," Louv said. "This has implications for a wide range of health issues, including ADHD, child obesity, stress, creativity and cognitive functioning."

To stimulate a "Leave No Child Inside" movement, Louv will offer practical suggestions for action by parents, grandparents, government agencies, conservationists, urban planners, educators and others concerned about the future of childhood and the earth itself.

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Louv is a journalist and author of seven books about the connections between family, nature and community. His most recent book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder" (Algonquin), translated into 9 languages and published in 13 countries, has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature. Louv is also the chairman and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org), an organization helping build the movement to connect today's children and future generations to the natural world.

A photo and bio of Louv are available on request. Reporters wanting to attend the session should first stop by the press room (room 224/226) at the Moscone Center for media credentials.

Editor's Note: Immediately following Louv's talk, Michael Rich, MD, FAAP, will speak on a related topic. His lecture, "Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming the Primary Experience of Childhood from the Electronic River," will examine how pediatricians and parents can help children reclaim adventure, imagination and reflection in lives now dominated by various forms of media.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

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