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Your Teen

Alcohol-Branded Clothing & Accessories Linked to Youth Alcohol Use

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The T-shirts, handbags, backpacks, hats, jackets and sunglasses we wear and carry all say a little something about who we think we are or would like to be. Clothing with slogans and photos, accessories with name –brands or specific designs help express, at least a small way, how we connect with others and want others to connect with us.

From politics to religion to music and movies – we’re not likely to wear something that we philosophically disagree with. That’s pretty much true in all age groups.

So, what does it mean when teens proudly wear clothing and carry products with alcohol-brands up front and center?

According to a large review of different studies on the topic, teens that own caps, shirts, and other merchandise displaying alcohol logos are more likely to drink.

Australian researchers reviewed results from 13 studies looking at alcohol-branded merchandise and teen alcohol use. The research included more than 26,000 kids and teens, mostly from the United States.

Four studies looked specifically at young people who hadn't started drinking alcohol. Those who owned alcohol-branded merchandise were more likely to start drinking a year later, the researchers said.

While the study doesn’t prove causation (teens will drink if they own alcohol-branded items), it does show an association between the two activities.

"It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects," explained study leader Sandra Jones. She's director of the Centre for Health and Social Research at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Children, Adolescents, and Advertising policy statement, said, "The studies showed that this ownership contributes to onset of drinking, not the amount of drinking.”

“But we know that when teenagers begin drinking, they tend to binge drink, not use good judgment, and drive when drunk or intoxicated," he added.

Because of the study’s findings, Jones believes that promotional alcohol-branded products encourage drinking among adolescents.

"As they transition through adolescence, young people are developing their sense of identity," she said.

"The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them," Jones said.

In addition to hats, caps and T-shirts, other examples of alcohol-related products include accessories, such as bags, backpacks, belts, lighters, sunglasses, wallets and key rings. Other promotional items include drinking glasses, utensils, cooler bags, bottle openers and coffee cups, the researchers said.

Depending on the study, ownership of such items ranged from 11 percent to 59 percent of the young participants. Ownership was higher among older children and males, the researchers said.

Most of the studies didn't find any gender differences. But two studies did find that the association between branded merchandise and drinking issues was actually stronger for girls.

Jones noted that company policies and regulations could help prevent the availability of such products for teens. She recommended restricting the sale of alcohol promotional products where the sale of alcohol is allowed, that alcohol-branded clothing not be made in children’s sizes and toys and gimmicks that appeal to children be discontinued.

Jones also noted that it’s not only up to businesses and government to regulate the availability of these products to kids, but parents as well.

"Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children -- or allow others to do so -- without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand," she said.

Strasburger said the media are often irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. "They depict alcohol use as normative behavior, or a solution for complex problems, or show being drunk as funny," he said. "We spend something like $5 million on alcohol advertising every year, then we wonder why so many teenagers drink. It's not rocket science."

The findings were publised online in the April 1st edition of the journal Pediatrics. 

Story source: Don Rauf, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-and-alcohol-health-news-11/booze-branded-merchandise-may-spur-teen-drinking-709478.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Overweight Girls Start Periods At Earlier Age

1.45 to read

Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.It's nothing new that girls are getting younger and younger when they have their first period, but experts worry that the current obesity epidemic could be fueling that trend.

Overweight or obese girls get their first period months earlier than their normal-weight peers, according to a Danish study. Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. About 17 percent of American kids and teens are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the study, researchers used information on body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight in relation to height -- and age at first period from about 3,200 Danish girls born between 1984 and 1987. The girls started their period just after they had turned 13, on average, which is about half a year later than in the U.S. Keim said part of the reason for this difference may be that African-Americans tend to start their periods before white girls. On average, a girl got her period about 25 days earlier for every point her BMI increased. For a female of about average height and weight, a one-point change in BMI is equivalent to about six pounds. Overweight and obese girls, for example, got their period three to five months before normal-weight girls, said Anshu Shrestha, a graduate student at UCLA School of Public Health, who worked on the study. There has been past research showing a link between BMI and when girls start menstruating. However, since this study was done more recently, it shows that the link is holding up in today's generation, Keim said. The researchers also found that a girl's mother's weight was related to when her daughter started menstruating, but less so than earlier work had hinted. For every point her mother's BMI when pregnant went up, the girl's period came about a week earlier, according to the new study, which was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Keim said the Danish findings reinforce the importance of keeping a healthy weight. "It's important for your entire life, starting from very early on," she told Reuters Health. "And it can even affect your children's health." Talking to your daughter about Menstruation. Most girls begin to menstruate when they're about 12, but periods are possible as early as age 8. That's why explaining menstruation early is so important. But menstruation is an awkward subject to talk about, especially with preteen girls, who are often embarrassed by this discussion. So what's the best way to approach this ticklish topic? If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, answer them openly and honestly. Provide as many details as you think she needs at the time. It's OK to let your daughter set the pace, but don't let her avoid the topic entirely. If she's not asking questions as she approaches the preteen years, it's up to you to start talking about menstruation. Don't plan a single tell-all discussion. Instead, talk about the various issues - from basic hygiene to fear of the unknown - in a series of short conversations. Consider it part of a continuing conversation on how the human body works. Remember, your daughter needs good information about the menstrual cycle and all the other changes that puberty brings. If her friends are her only source of information, she may hear some nonsense and take it for fact. To introduce the subject of menstruation, you might ask your daughter what she knows about puberty. Clarify any misinformation and ask what questions she might have. It may be helpful to time your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your daughter is receiving in school, or you could broach the subject before a routine doctor's appointment. You can tell your daughter that the doctor may ask her whether she's gotten her period yet. Then ask if she has any questions or concerns about menstruation. Girls might prefer to learn about menstruation from a female family member, but sometimes that's not possible. If you're a single father and you're not comfortable talking about menstruation, you might delegate these conversations to a female relative or friend. The key is to make sure the information is relayed somehow. The biology of menstruation is important, but most girls are more interested in practical information about periods. Your daughter may want to know when it's going to happen, what it's going to feel like and what she'll need to do when the time comes. - What is menstruation? Menstruation means a girl's body is physically capable of becoming pregnant. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn't fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a period. - Does it hurt? Many girls have cramps, typically in the lower abdomen, when their periods begin. Cramps can be dull and achy or sharp and intense. Exercise, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever may help ease any discomfort. - When will it happen? No one can tell exactly when a girl will get her first period. Typically, however, girls begin menstruating about two years after their breasts begin to develop. Many girls experience a thin, white vaginal discharge about one year before menstruation begins. - What should I do? Explain how to use sanitary pads or tampons. Many girls are more comfortable starting with pads, but it's OK to use tampons right away. Remind your daughter that it may take some practice to get used to inserting tampons. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your daughter to experiment until she finds the product that works best for her. - What if I'm at school? Encourage your daughter to carry a few pads or tampons in her backpack or purse, just in case. Many school bathrooms have coin-operated dispensers for these products. The school nurse also may have supplies. - Will everyone know that I have my period? Assure your daughter that pads and tampons aren't visible through clothing. No one needs to know that she has her period. - What if blood leaks onto my pants? Offer your daughter practical suggestions for covering up stains until she's able to change clothes, such as tying a sweatshirt around her waist. You might also encourage your daughter to wear dark pants or shorts when she has her period, just in case. Your daughter may worry that she's not normal if she starts having periods before, or after, friends her age do, or if her periods aren't like those of her friends. But menstruation varies with the individual. Some girls have periods that last two days, while others have periods that last more than a week. It can even vary this drastically from month to month in the same girl. The amount of blood lost each month can vary, too, usually from 4 to 12 teaspoons (about 20 to 60 milliliters). It's also common for girls to have irregular periods for the first year or two. Some months might even go by without a period. Once your daughter's cycle settles down, teach her how to track her periods on a calendar. Eventually she may be able to predict when her periods will begin. Schedule a medical checkup for your daughter if: - Her periods last more than seven days - She has menstrual cramps that aren't relieved by over-the-counter medications - She's soaking more pads or tampons than usual - She's missing school or other activities because of painful or heavy periods - She goes three months without a period or suspects she may be pregnant - She hasn't started menstruating by age 15 The changes associated with puberty can be a little scary. Reassure your daughter that it's normal to feel apprehensive about menstruating, but it's nothing to be too worried about and you're there to answer any questions she may have.

Your Teen

Concussions: Boys and Girls May Have Different Symptoms

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The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often.A new study of high school athletes, finds that boys and girls who suffer concussions, may differ in their symptoms. The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often. "The take-home message is that coaches, parents, athletic trainers, and physicians must be observant for all signs and symptoms of concussion, and should recognize that young male and female athletes may present with different symptoms," said R. Dawn Comstock, an author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. More than 60,000 brain injuries occur among high school athletes every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more males than females participate in sports, female athletes are more likely to suffer sports-related concussions, the researchers note. For instance, girls who play high school soccer suffer almost 40 percent more concussions than their male counterparts, according to NATA. The findings suggest that girls who suffer concussions might sometimes go undiagnosed since symptoms such as drowsiness or sensitivity to noise "may be overlooked on sideline assessments or they may be attributed to other conditions," Comstock said. For the study, Comstock and her co-authors at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, examined data from an Internet-based surveillance system for high school sports-related injuries. The researchers looked at concussions involved in interscholastic sports practice or competition in nine sports (boys' football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and baseball and girls' soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball) during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years at a representative sample of 100 high schools. During that time, 812 concussions (610 in boys and 202 in girls) were reported. During the first year of the study, the surveillance system included only the primary concussion symptom for each athlete. In the second year, high school athletic trainers were able to record all the symptoms reported by the concussed athlete. In both years, headache was the most commonly reported symptom and no difference was noted between the sexes. However, in year one, 13 percent of the males reported confusion/disorientation as their primary symptom versus 6 percent of the girls. Also in the first year, amnesia was the primary symptom of 9 percent of the males but only 3 percent of the females. In the second year, amnesia and confusion/disorientation continued to be more common among males than females. In addition, 31 percent of the concussed females complained of drowsiness versus 20 percent of the males, and 14 percent of the females said they were sensitive to noise, compared with just 5 percent of the males. Concussion researcher Gerard A. Gioia, chief of pediatric neuropsychology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., called the findings "relatively subtle" and "at best hypothesis-generating, meaning they are suggestive but in no way conclusive." Gioia said one of the study's limitations is that the reporting system didn't explain about how the injuries occurred. "The presence of increased amnesia and confusion, two early injury characteristics, in the males suggests that the injuries between the males and females may have been different," he said. Future studies will likely address this theory, said Comstock, now that the surveillance system has been expanded to include much more detailed information. Preliminary data suggest, for instance, that football players tend to get hit on the front of the head, while girls who play soccer or basketball often suffer a blow to the side of the head, she said. The findings will also be published in the January issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

Your Teen

Concussions May Affect Kid’s Academic Performance

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Can a concussion affect your child ‘s academic performance? According to a new study it might, depending on two factors - the severity of the concussion and the grade level of your child.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a fall or blow, jolt or bump to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth rapidly. While most recover from mild concussions quickly, the young and the elderly can have symptoms that last for days or weeks.

Researchers from the Children's National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University studied 349 students ages 5 to 18 to find out what happened to their academic performance after concussions. They divided the students into those who were continuing to experience problems following head injuries and those who were fully recovered, and asked the students and their parents to fill out questionnaires about their academic performance.

The study found that the severity of the concussion symptoms was directly related to the degree of academic problems among all grade levels. Eighty-eight percent of the children who were not fully recovered still had problems with concentration, headaches and fatigue. Seventy-seven percent of those same children had problems taking notes and found themselves spending more time on homework and having problems studying for exams and quizzes.

High school students reported having the most learning problems, significantly more than middle or elementary school children.

The authors say that their findings suggest that school systems and medical professionals should be working together to support students who are still in the recovery phase.

"Our findings suggest that these supports are particularly necessary for older students, who face greater academic demands relative to their younger peers," the study's authors say.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The Mayo Clinic says that common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not follow a loss of consciousness, usually involves the loss of memory of the event that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

•       Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

•       Temporary loss of consciousness

•       Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

•       Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

•       Dizziness or "seeing stars"

•       Ringing in the ears

•       Nausea

•       Vomiting

•       Slurred speech

•       Delayed response to questions

•       Appearing dazed

•       Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

•       Concentration and memory complaints

•       Irritability and other personality changes

•       Sensitivity to light and noise

•       Sleep disturbances

•       Psychological adjustment problems and depression

•       Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in infants and toddlers can be difficult to recognize because these little ones are unable to communicate how they feel. However, there are nonverbal clues of a possible concussion. These are:

•       Appearing dazed

•       Listlessness and tiring easily

•       Irritability and crankiness

•       Loss of balance and unsteady walking

•       Crying excessively

•       Change in eating or sleeping patterns

•       Lack of interest in favorite toys

Concussions should always be treated seriously even when a child doesn’t seem to be showing physical or mental symptoms. If you suspect your child may have a concussion seek a professional diagnosis to make sure.

Sources: Sandee LaMotte, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/11/health/concussions-academic-problems/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/basics/symptoms/con-20019272

Your Teen

Serious Burns Caused By E-Cigarette Explosions

1:45

Many family members have e-cigarettes inside their homes, pockets and purses. As more adults try to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, the use of electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes) is rapidly increasing.  Several recent studies show that not only are adults experimenting with e-cigarettes, but also teens and preteens are attracted to the candy-flavored gadgets through peer pressure, advertising and celebrity endorsements.

One aspect of e-cigarette use that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, until now, is that these devices can un-expectantly explode causing severe burns to the face and other areas of the body.

According to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, electronic-cigarette devices are randomly exploding, burning and injuring people near them when they detonate.

The University of Washington Regional Burn Center in Seattle has treated 22 people for burns and other injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes since October 2015, lead author Elisha Brownson, M.D., a burn/critical care surgical fellow at the hospital, told HealthDay.

The lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarettes, Brownson said, cause the explosions. These rechargeable batteries charge a heating coil that brings liquid nicotine and flavorings to the boiling point inside the device, creating an inhalable vapor. Batteries in some of the devices are overheating, causing a fire or an explosion, she said.

The first Seattle case Brownson treated was a man in his 20s using an e-cigarette while driving. The device exploded in his mouth, blowing out several front teeth. She said she has since treated a variety of burns and blast injuries caused by e-cigarettes, including patients with flame burns covering 10 to 15 percent of their total body surface.

"We see a lot of patients who have burns on their thigh and their hands. That's when the device has exploded in their pocket, and they're using their hands to get the device out and away from them," Brownson said. "There also have been a lot of injuries to the hands and face when people have had explosions as they've been using them. Patients tell us they had no idea this could happen. They've had little to no warning that the device is going to explode."

The flame-burn injuries have required extensive wound care and skin grafting, and exposure to the alkali chemicals released from the battery explosion has caused chemical skin burns requiring wound care.

Why do these devices explode? NBC News put the question to Venkat Viswanathan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in March of 2016.

“The electrolyte inside the battery is basically the equivalent of gasoline, so when these batteries short out, there's a surge of heat that causes this flammable electrolyte to combust and explode."

Well-made lithium-ion cells have a very small risk of failure. But the cheaper cells "have a much greater chance of having a manufacturing defect," which increases the likelihood for failure, Viswanathan said.

The risk goes up if the cells are overcharged or charged too quickly. This can happen if the e-cig comes with a poorly designed charger or the user switches chargers. Well-made lithium-ion batters have fail-safe mechanisms to prevent these problems. Poorly made ones do not. Just because a charger plugs into that e-cig doesn't mean you should use it.

E-cigarettes remain largely unregulated. Until recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had made little headway in the regulation of e-cigarettes. However, the FDA has recently extended regulatory authority to cover all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, although the prospects for battery regulation remain unclear. While these explosions were previously thought to be isolated events, the injuries among our 15 patients add to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a public safety concern that demands increased regulation as well as design changes to improve safety. In the meantime, both e-cigarette users and health care providers need to be aware of the risk of explosion associated with e-cigarettes, the paper’s researchers noted.

Story sources: http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=715566

Herb Weisbaum, http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/what-s-causing-some-e-cigarette-batteries-explode-n533516

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1608478

Your Teen

Excessive Sweating in Teens

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Sweating is a natural function of the body. It helps cools you down when you overheat and expels toxins to prevent toxic overload. But Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating,) is not only embarrassing; it may also indicate an underlying health problem.

Underarm problems tend to start in late adolescence, while palm and sole sweating often begins earlier, around age 13 (on the average). Untreated, these problems may continue throughout life.

Excessive sweating can stain clothes, impact relationships and complicate social interactions. A recent study noted that 70 percent of teens reporting excess sweating said it interfered with their daily living activities.

Adelaide A. Hebert, MD, chief of pediatric dermatology at the University of Texas, Houston, said during a presentation to the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting, that it is time medical schools pay more attention to it.

“These kids have often seen a number of physicians who really haven’t taken this clinical condition to heart,” Hebert said.

“They don’t know what to do, so they tell the kids not to worry. The kids just don’t get the answers that will be beneficial to them, so educating physicians is key.” Hebert said that global medical education devotes virtually no time to the study of hyperhidrosis in adolescents.

Children, especially teens, normally sweat when:

  • It is hot
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Exercising
  • They are angry, anxious, or nervous
  • They have a fever

However, there are a number of medical conditions that can cause excessive sweating, including:

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Infections
  • Heart failure
  • Medication side effects
  • Drug withdrawal

How do you know if your teen has a problem with excessive sweating? If your teens’ sweating interferes with his or her daily activities, has become barely tolerable, or seems much heavier than his or her friends doing the same activities, you should talk with your pediatrician or family doctor.

For example, your teen will likely be sweating while playing volleyball, but it shouldn't be so severe that sweaty palms interfere with his or her holding the ball.

Treatments that may help control excessive sweating include over-the-counter antiperspirants as well as prescription antiperspirants, such as:

  • A regular over-the-counter antiperspirant -- use it both in the morning and the evening for best results
  • A newer over-the-counter antiperspirant, such as Secret Clinical Strength (Aluminum Zirconium Trichlorohydrex) or Hydrosal Professional (Aluminum Chloride Hexahydrate 15%)
  • An over-the-counter antiperspirant, such as Certain Dri, with Aluminum Chloride 12%
  • A prescription strength antiperspirant, such as DrySol, with Aluminum Chloride 20%, or Xerac AC, with Aluminum Chloride 6.25%
  • Anticholinergic medications -- although because of their side effects, such as dry mouth, constipation, and drowsiness, they are more helpful for generalized hyperhidrosis, and not teens who just have sweaty palms or excessive armpit sweating

Although the effect is only temporarily, Botox works to block a neurotransmitter that stimulates sweat glands, leading to a decrease in sweat production for 6 to 7 months.

Excessive sweating can cause teens a lot of emotional distress that continues into adulthood. Starting early with a diagnosis and treatment may prove valuable throughout his or her lifetime.

Story sources: Vincent Iannelli MD, https://www.verywell.com/excessive-sweating-and-control-for-teens-2634358

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperhidrosis2#1

Whitney McKnight, http://www.mdedge.com/pediatricnews/article/132710/pediatrics/physicians-need-take-hyperhidrosis-teens-seriously

 

Your Teen

Blogging Could Be Good Therapy for Teens

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When I was a teen if you had something you really wanted to get off your chest, but didn’t want anyone to know, you’d write it down in your diary. It was a safe place to express sadness, confusion, anxiety, joy and excitement. And being a teenager, all those emotions were swirling inside my head pretty much all the time. For some strange reason, I always felt better after writing it all down, clicking the lock shut, and placing the diary in a spot I thought no one would look. My musings were usually personal thoughts that I didn’t think anyone would understand anyway. In fact, I thought Bob Dylan captured my anxiety pretty well when he sang “If my thought-dreams could be seen -
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine.”

Today’s kids are much more likely to share their “thought-dreams” over the Internet in a personal blog, and a new study says that could actually be very helpful.

Research has long supported the therapeutic value of diary keeping and journaling for teens and adults. But now, researchers suggest that blogging might even be better.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Services and conducted by Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Azy Barak, psychology professors at the University of Haifa, Israel, found that engaging with an online community was more effective in relieving the writer’s social distress than a private diary would be.

So, how did they discover that? They randomly surveyed high school students in Israel who said they had difficulty making new friends or relating to friends they already had. Researchers selected 161 teens to participate in the study. The average age was around 15 and there were 124 girls and 37 boys. 

The teens were then divided into 6 groups. The first two groups were asked to blog about their social difficulties, with one group asked to open their posts to comments. The second two groups were asked to blog about whatever struck their adolescent fancy; again, with one group allowing comments. All four groups were told to write in their blogs at least twice a week. As a control, two more groups were told to keep either an old-fashioned print diary or to do nothing at all.

Four psychologists reviewed the blog entries to determine each writer’s relative social and emotional state. In all the groups, the greatest improvement in mood occurred among those bloggers who wrote about their problems and allowed people to respond.

People who responded offered positive feedback and support, and that appears to be the key.

“The only kind of surprise we had was that almost all comments made by readers were very positive and constructive in trying to offer support for distressed bloggers,” Dr. Barak wrote in an email to the New York Times.

 Royar Loflin, a 17-year-old blogger from Norfolk, Va., who did not participate in the study, says that blogging helps her find a little peace of mind.  “I definitely write posts in which I talk about being overwhelmed, and it helps me to relax. People will write in the comments, ‘I remember when I was in your shoes’ ” and ‘Don’t worry — you’ll get through the SATs!’ and it’s wonderful,” she said. “It really helps put everything into perspective.”

Once again I am reminded -The times they are a changing.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/fashion/blogging-as-therapy-for-teenag...

Your Teen

Teenage Heavy Pot Use and Memory Loss

2:00

Teens who are heavy users of marijuana may be setting themselves up for memory loss and physical changes in the brain suggests a new study.

Researchers found that young adults who'd smoked pot heavily as teens performed worse on memory tests than their peers who'd never used the drug regularly. And on brain scans, they tended to show differences in the shape of the hippocampus -the part of the brain that is involved with forming, organizing and storing memory. 

The findings did not prove that heavy marijuana use caused the changes in the brain or memory dysfunction, but suggests that there could be a connection. The study was small and participants were only assessed once.

Matthew Smith, lead researcher and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, pointed out that other research has found a link between teenagers' heavy marijuana use and lingering memory problems, as well as a loss in IQ points. Similarly, brain-imaging studies have found that habitual pot smokers show differences in the volume and shape of the hippocampus, versus non-users.

The young adults had stopped smoking pot on an average of two years before participating in this study. Smith said that the brain changes and memory loss suggests that the effects may indicate long-term damage.

The current findings are based on 10 young adults who smoked pot heavily as teens -- usually daily, starting at 16 or 17, for an average of three years. Smith's team compared them with 44 young adults the same age, and from similar backgrounds, with no history of drug abuse.

Overall, the former marijuana users performed worse on a test where they had to listen to a series of stories, then remember as much information as possible a half-hour later.

Smith said he thinks the gap would be relevant in real life. "It would be similar to having a conversation, and then forgetting details 30 minutes later," he said.

The researchers also found a correlation between having an "oddly shaped" hippocampus and poorer memory performance, Smith said, though he added that does not prove the structural difference caused the memory issues.

Because teenager’s brain are still developing, Smith suggests that if young people want to smoke marijuana it might be best to wait until they are in their 20s before they start.

"The overall body of evidence is pretty clear that when teenagers use marijuana [regularly], their brains tend to look different and there tend to be cognitive differences," he said.

Not everyone agrees that this study points out a link between teenage heavy marijuana use with cognitive difficulties or hippocampus changes.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a non-profit that advocates for legal marijuana use, says that because participants in the study were assessed only once, there’s no way to know whether the pot use came before any memory issues.

He also suggests other factors may be responsible for the hippocampus changes such as heavy drinking.

Armentano believes concerns about teenagers' developing brains presents a good argument for legalizing marijuana. "The obvious public-policy response," he said, "is to regulate the substance in a manner that better restricts young people's access to it, and provides them with evidence-based information in regard to its potential risks."

With the legalization of marijuana use in several states and other states looking at the possibility of legalization, more studies of the long-term effects are beginning to flow in.

Legalization certainly isn’t the beginning of pot use among teens. However, the perception of marijuana use as harmful is changing rather quickly among teens and even pre-teens.

According to www.drugabuse.gov, marijuana use remained stable in 2014, even though the percentage of youth perceiving the drug as harmful went down. Past-month use of marijuana remained steady among 8th graders at 6.5 percent, among 10th graders at 16.6 percent, and among 12th graders at 21.2 percent. Close to 6 percent of 12th graders report daily use of marijuana (similar to 2013), and 81 percent of them said the drug is easy to get.

Although marijuana use has remained relatively stable over the past few years, there continues to be a shifting of teens’ attitudes about its perceived risks. The majority of high school seniors do not think occasional marijuana smoking is harmful, with only 36.1 percent saying that regular use puts the user at great risk, compared to 39.5 percent in 2013 and 52.4 percent in 2009. However, 56.7 percent of seniors say they disapprove of adults who smoke it occasionally, and 73.4 percent say they disapprove of adults smoking marijuana regularly.

Waiting till a child has reached their pre-teen or teenage years to start discussing drug use isn’t going to be near as effective as beginning that conversation much earlier. Drugs have long held a fascination for kids whether you’re talking about marijuana, cigarettes, alcohol or any of the other type of inhalant or pills. That’s not news to parents. The difference is that drugs are now more easily available and new temptations are widespread.  

No matter what the research eventually reveals, drug use should be a topic that parents start discussing with their children when they are young- using age-appropriate terminology- along with the sex, personal responsibility and ethics discussions. These conversations can provide information that will help them navigate peer and societal temptations in a more mature and educated way.

Sources: Amy Norton, http://teens.webmd.com/news/20150312/teens-heavy-pot-smoking-tied-to-memory-problems

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Cigarettes Down, Pot Use Up

2:00

New statistics reveal that the number of American teenagers that smoke cigarettes has dropped by 64 percent in recent years. The same report also shows that the number of teens who are smoking pot has doubled.

Unfortunately, just because the percentage of kids who smoke cigarettes has dropped considerably, plenty are still lighting up. A full 30 percent of white, black and Hispanic teens smoked cigarettes, cigars or marijuana in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. The researchers tracked teen smoking rates from 1997 to 2013.

"The nation's remarkable progress in reducing youth smoking since 1997 is great news, but the battle is far from over," said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened," Willmore added.

Researchers called for more targeted prevention programs and policies to get the word to adolescents out on the dangers of smoking.

Overall, the number of teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars dropped from 20.5 percent to slightly more than 7 percent, while marijuana use went from 4 percent to 10 percent, the report found.

Notably, marijuana use jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent among those teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars, the findings showed.

Marijuana use has increased as states make it either legal or more acceptable with reduced penalties.

Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, believes that more acceptance of marijuana as a harmless drug is driving its increased use among teens.

"Over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a change in public perception of marijuana," he said. "There is the idea that marijuana is not something you need to worry about."

Marijuana use in teens hasn’t been researched much over the years, because it’s been illegal. Marijuana studies in adults have been going on for some time and especially during the last couple of decades. Health concerns about pot use and teens are beginning to emerge.

McAfee noted there is research showing that pot has a negative effect on developing brains and that some kids can become dependent on it.

“Nothing is being done” McAfee said, in terms of a tobacco-like campaign telling kids not to use marijuana or with information about the possible side effects.

The report was published in the October edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2014, a study was released looking at the research done over the past 20 years on marijuana use, highlighting the drug’s adverse effects, both acute and chronic.

The study maps out exactly what marijuana does and does not do to the body and brain, both in the short and long terms. What’s clear is that marijuana has a number of adverse effects over years of use – in certain people, anyway. What’s not so clear is how policy should be informed by the science.

The acute effects show that driving while high on marijuana does seem to double the risk of a car crash, which is of course heightened if there is also alcohol in the system. Marijuana has been linked to low birth weight when it is used during pregnancy.

Otherwise, acute effects mainly include anxiety, paranoia (especially among new users), dysphoria, cognitive impairment, and psychotic symptoms (especially in people with a family history of psychosis).

Many of these particular side effects seem to have risen over the last 20 years, which may be due to the fact that the THC content in marijuana has also risen over that time.

THC is the chemical in marijuana that is most responsible for the drug’s psychological effects.

The chronic or long-term effects are much more troubling than the acute.

As in the case of nearly all-scientific studies, causation is difficult to prove – but a correlation is evident.

Here’s what the study by Wayne Hall, Director and Inaugural Chair at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at The University of Queensland, Australia, reveals.

  • Marijuana can be addictive. But only for some people. About 10% of all users seem to develop dependence syndrome, and for those who start in adolescence, the number is more like 1 in 6. Withdrawal syndrome is also a real phenomenon, with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and appetite disturbance being the main symptoms, which can often be severe enough to have an effect on daily life.
  • Marijuana use is linked to adverse cognitive effects. In particular, the drug is linked to reduced learning, memory, and attention. It hasn’t been entirely clear whether these effects persist after a person stops using the drug, but there’s some evidence that it does. One study found a reduction in IQ of 8 points in long-time users, the greatest decline being in people who’d started using as teenagers and continued daily into adulthood. For people who began in adulthood and eventually stopped using, a reduction in IQ was not seen a year later.
  • Marijuana may change brain structure and function.  There’s been an ongoing debate about whether marijuana actually changes the brain, but recent evidence has suggested that it is linked to changes in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. It’s unclear, however, how long these effects last, whether they’re linked to behavioral changes, and whether they reverse after a person stops using the drug.
  • Regular use is linked to an increased risk of psychotic symptoms. That marijuana is linked to increased psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking) is fairly clear. But again, it’s been a chicken-and-egg problem, since it’s hard to show whether causation is at play, and which way the connection goes. However, it’s likely that the relationship actually goes both ways: Marijuana may lead to  psychotic symptoms, and early psychotic symptoms may  increase the likelihood that a person will smoke marijuana (particularly if there’s a family history of psychotic disorders).
  • Marijuana is linked to lower educational attainment. When pot smoking begins in adolescence, people tend to go less far in school – but again, a causal relationship hasn’t been demonstrated.
  •  Marijuana  may (or may not be) be a gateway drug. Regular teenage marijuana users are more likely to use other drugs in the future – but again, researchers don’t know whether the link is causal.
  • Marijuana is probably – but modestly – linked to schizophrenia. The study found that marijuana is connected to a doubled risk of a schizophrenia diagnosis in the future. Many previous studies have suggested this connection, but, as always, showing causality is hard. The new study cites a number of well-executed studies that suggest a causal relationship between marijuana and schizophrenia. The authors estimate that marijuana use may double the risk of schizophrenia from 7 in 1000 non-users to 14 in 1000 marijuana users. On the upside, they point out that users who quit using the drug after a first psychotic episode have fewer psychotic symptoms and better social functioning moving forward, compared to people who have a psychotic episode but continue using.
  • Marijuana may be linked to testicular cancer. Its connection to other forms of cancer is not very consistent, but there’s some evidence of an increased risk of testicular cancer in long-term marijuana users.
  • Regular users may have cardiopulmonary issues. Regular marijuana users have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis. Marijuana “probably” increases the risk of heart attack in middle age, but it’s hard to know for sure, since many users also smoke cigarettes.

The authors of this particular study were careful not to argue for or against the legalization of marijuana except to say that its legalization should be done with safeties in place.

This 2014 study was published in the journal Addiction.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/marijuana-news-759/fewer-teens-smoking-cigarettes-but-twice-as-many-now-smoke-pot-cdc-704275.html

Alice G. Walton, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/10/07/what-20-years-of-research-has-taught-us-about-the-chronic-effects-of-marijuana/

 

 

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