Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

“Study Drugs” and Doctors’ Moral Obligations

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Drugs given to help manage ADHD can be very effective when they are prescribed for kids who have been properly diagnosed. However, when these drugs are prescribed as study aids they can become addictive and can produce serious cardiac risks.  

Dr. William D. Graf, professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, CT, and five colleagues became concerned when they noticed the increasing number of physicians prescribing ADHD drugs –like Ritalin and Adderall- to perfectly healthy children.

The dramatic increase in the number of children taking stimulants and other "study drugs," as they are popularly known, seems to back up his anecdotal evidence.

The Yale doctors have publicly taken a position on this topic in a paper that offers guidance to physicians and discusses the ethics of prescribing stimulant drugs to children who do not have ADHD in order to help them do better in school.

The paper suggests that physicians have a “moral obligation” to “prevent misuse of medication.”

It concludes that the practice of "neuroenhancements" isn't justifiable. It adds that the prescription of these drugs is inadvisable because of "numerous social, developmental, and professional integrity issues."

"We are a highly competitive society, and we know some physicians are prescribing these at a parent's request," Graf said. "Other parents have told us they felt doctors pushed these drugs on their children."

Several studies have looked at the increase number of students who are taking “study drugs.” A 2004 study notes that in some U.S. schools "the proportion of boys taking methylphenidate (Ritalin) exceeds the highest estimates of the prevalence of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder."

Another study suggests that about 16% of the population of some high schools and colleges use prescription drugs as study aids.

Other college professors have noticed the increase in college students who are either taking or asking for “study drugs.” Many students believe it is the only way they can have an advantage in competitive schools with rigorous curriculums.

Dr. Mark Wolraich, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical practice guideline subcommittee on ADHD, says this newly published position paper represents "pretty much the position that all clinicians have." His only concern is that parents who hear about it may be too nervous to seek treatment for their children with ADHD, for whom the drugs would actually be beneficial.

"They can work really well with kids with ADHD," Wolraich said.

He also believes there may be a valid reason for the increase in students who are taking ADHD drugs. More is known about ADHD and more students are being correctly diagnosed with the condition. Until recently, many physicians believe that children would eventually outgrow ADHD symptoms. New research shows that ADHD symptoms can carry on into adulthood.

"We used to think it disappeared at puberty, but it's not the case. So there will be more cases of adolescents and people at older ages diagnosed with ADHD," Wolraich said.

Graf and his colleagues say they are more concerned about physicians prescribing ADHD drugs when there is not a medical need for it and believe that it is time to take a stand.

Parents and students should educate themselves about the dangers of taking these potent stimulants when they are not used to treat ADHD. It’s far too easy to obtain them and justify that they are just temporary.

High school can be difficult and so can college. But previous generations managed to make it through both, with good grades, by doing what it takes to succeed without the use of stimulants. In our accomplishment driven society kids may have a more difficult time in school not because the pressure is greater, but because they are depressed, anxious or sleep deprived. These are situations that can be helped through counseling, understanding, motivation and better sleep habits. This solution doesn’t offer a pill’s temporary quick fix, but it may help students be better able to handle all of life’s unexpected challenges in the long run.

If your child doesn’t have ADHD and becomes dependent on prescription or illegally obtained pills to apply themselves or to be able to study, what are they going to do when school is finished and they have to continue to apply themselves and focus in the real world - take another pill?

Physicians can help guide parents and students. They can make sure that prescriptions are medically necessary. They can explain the side effects and offer other possible solutions. I think that’s the important point the doctors at Yale University were trying to make.

The paper was published in the journal American Academy of Neurology.

Source: Jen Christensen, http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/13/health/adhd-misuse-drugs-study/index.html?hpt=he_c2

Your Teen

Teenage Heavy Pot Use and Memory Loss

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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 Using Steroids To Achieve The “Perfect Body”

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Ask any teen if they’d like to be lean and muscular and most likely they are going to say yes. In fact more and more teenagers are turning to diet, exercise and protein powders to help them muscle up and lose weight. They are also using steroids and other muscle enhancing drugs in hopes of developing the “perfect body.”

Although boys most often use these techniques, girls are also turning to steroids in hopes of achieving more muscle and less fat.

A study released in the online journal Pediatrics, reports that 2,793 middle school and high school students were asked about the methods they used to increase their muscle size or tone. The average age was 14 and the students went to schools in the Minneapolis -St. Paul, Minnesota area.

The results showed that:

- 68% of boys; 62% of girls changed their eating habits.

- 91% of boys; 81% of girls exercised more.

- 35% of boys; 21% of girls used protein powders or shakes.

- 6% of boys; 5% of girls used steroids.

- 11% of boys; 6% of girls used muscle-enhancing substances such as creatine, amino acids, hydroxyl methylbutyrate (HMB), DHEA, or growth hormones.

The data did not indicate whether the diets were healthy or not or what type of exercise was adopted.

The findings suggests that "increasing muscle strength or mass or tone is an important piece of body image for both boys and girls," says lead study author Marla Eisenberg, professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. "Kids really are seeing that as a goal."

Some experts on child health are concerned that kids are exercising, dieting, drinking protein drinks and using steroids not because they want to have a healthy physique but because they are trying to create what they think is the cultural ideal of the “perfect body.” Health and fitness are not their main objectives, looking a particular way is. 

With an epidemic of adolescent obesity in this country, few people could argue that a healthy diet and exercise are bad ideas. However, when kids believe that they must look like someone in a magazine ad or a professional athlete to be accepted by their peers, they run the risk of trying unhealthy diet fads, over exercising and taking muscle- enhancing substances that can have serious side-effects.

This study is a reminder that parents and physicians need to be aware that these behaviors are going on and that they need to be discussed with their adolescents, says Joel Brenner, medical director of the Sports Medicine Program at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Va., and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.

The use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances is clearly dangerous and needs to be avoided, but inappropriate changes to diet or exercise can also be hazardous, he says.

Parents can help their teens keep fitness and health as goals by making sure they are involved with their children’s activities and by keeping communication open. Ask your child what they think the benefits of diet and exercise are, and listen carefully to his or her answers.

Healthy diet and active exercise are the tried and true ways to a normal body weight and healthy body. Protein powders or shakes are unnecessary if you’re getting plenty of high-level protein in your diet. Anabolic steroids can lead to stunted growth in teens, abnormal enlargement of the heart and liver damage.

These days even very young children are aware of body image. Television, movies, video games, and some toys tend to glorify a certain muscular physique that’s difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain. It’s important to know how your child perceives their own body and to talk them about the difference between being healthy and fit versus an idealized body projection. 

Kids can look up what protein powders to take online and there are plenty of social media sites where teens can find support groups that promote unhealthy behaviors.

If your child shows an interest in weight lifting or changing their diet that can actually be a very good thing, just monitor their activity and make sure they are making these changes for the right reasons.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/19/muscle-building-techniques-teens/1708973/

Your Teen

Growing Use of E-Cigarettes Among Teens

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A new study says that e-cigarette use among teens is accelerating at a rapid pace, particularly in Hawaii. Nearly one-third of the high school students that took part in the study said they had tried e-cigarettes.

An e-cigarette is a device that turns nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor. Many e-cigarettes are designed to resemble tobacco cigarettes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Researchers surveyed more than 1,900 teens in Hawaii. The average age was between 14 and 15 years old. The teens were in ninth and 10th grades, and from both public and private schools, according to the study. The survey assessed e-cigarette and cigarette use, alcohol and marijuana use, and psychosocial risk factors for substance use.

Twelve percent of the students reported using both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. Seventeen percent had used only e-cigarettes and three percent used cigarettes only.

Study author Thomas Wills, interim director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at University of Hawaii Cancer Center, said his team was surprised by the research results in several ways.

"We had thought that persons who used e-cigarettes would look pretty much like smokers on the psychosocial variables we measured, like sensation seeking, impulsivity and peer smoking" he said. "It turned out that the students who only used e-cigarettes had a lower risk profile than smokers and dual users -- persons who use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes."

Electronic cigarettes hit the American market around 2006- 2007, after taking hold in China and Europe. According to the FDA’s website, it does not currently regulate these products, but has proposed extending its authority to cover additional products that meet the definition of a tobacco product under the proposed rule: Tobacco Products Deemed To Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (Deeming).

Forty-one states have laws forbidding the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and many cities in states that do not forbid the sale, have regulated the sales through ordinances.

E-cigarettes have helped many adults quit smoking tobacco cigarettes or cut-down on their use. What is stirring concern over the increase in use among teens is the worry that these products are creating a new generation of teens addicted to nicotine and possible health risks. Nicotine is an extremely difficult drug to quit.

"Kids will try any psychoactive device that seems interesting," said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior consultant for scientific affairs at the American Lung Association. "But the American Lung Association is very concerned about that because we think one of the major deleterious effects of e-cigarettes is hooking a whole generation of kids on this very addictive substance that is nicotine."

He noted that e-cigarettes are only one of many available "nicotine delivery devices," which also include items resembling pens or USB drives that release puffs of nicotine vapor.

Recent studies suggest that the overall use of e-cigarettes by teens in the mainland is lower than the results from the Hawaii study, but adolescent use continues to grow in popularity. 

The big question is, what are the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes and other nicotine vapor products? Since there is not any current government oversight on how these products are made, it’s difficult to know what other chemicals are being used in their production.

"Parents have to make it clear to kids that these things are not necessarily safe," Edelman said, "and to live a full and complete life, it would be good if they were drug-free."

Results of the study were published online on Dec. 15 in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/growing-use-of-e-cigarettes-among-teenagers-694585.html

Your Teen

Teens Giving Birth Reaches Historic Low

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U.S. teens giving birth has reached historic lows. New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today points to the ongoing and significant drop in the U.S. teen birth rate over the past 2o-plus years.

The CDC attributes the drop to fewer teens having sex and more frequent use of contraception. While the overall rate dropped significantly, some states did better than others in the reduction of teenagers giving birth.

Rates are consistently highest across the southern and southwestern United States and lowest in the Northeast.

The 10 highest states were Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The 10 lowest states were Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

The teen birth rate has declined across all racial groups since 1991, but the steepest declines have been recorded among Asian-Pacific Islanders (API) (64 percent) and non-Hispanic blacks (63 percent). API teens currently have the lowest birth rate overall (9.7 per 1,000), while Hispanic teens have the highest rate among the racial groups (46.3 percent). Still, the rate for Hispanic teens has fallen the fastest since 2007 (39 percent).

The good news for America is somewhat tempered by the fact that our teen birth rate still ranks among some of the highest for developed countries. While countries like Denmark, Switzerland and Japan recorded teen birth rates under 5 per 1,000, the United States finds itself among seven of 31 countries highlighted by the CDC with rates exceeding 20 births per 1,000 teens.

Even though we lag behind many other developed countries, we’re still making progress and progress is good for our teens’ health and our economy.

The CDC says the progress made since 1991 has amounted to 4 million fewer teen births. Citing research from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the CDC says this also saved taxpayers an estimated $12 billion alone in 2010 from costs associated with government-funded health care, child welfare and higher incarceration rates for the children of teen moms. And having fewer babies born to teen mothers, the CDC points out, is good for other reasons. Teen motherhood comes with a higher health risk for the baby, educational limits for the mother and limited resources, since about 90 percent of teen births are to unmarried mothers. And babies born to teen mothers are more likely to eventually become teen mothers themselves.

Some states, like Colorado, have seen dramatic reductions in teen births by re-thinking their approach. Between 2007 and 2012, Colorado saw the highest percentage drop in birth rates among teens 15 to 19 in the country, according to the CDC report. During that time, its teen birth rates dropped 39 percent compared to 29 percent nationwide. Abortion rates in the state among teens fell 35 percent between 2009 and 2012 and are falling nationally, as well.

What did Colorado do differently? They invested wisely in their young women and teen’s public health education and pregnancy prevention options.

State public health officials are crediting a sustained, focused effort to offer low-income women free or low-cost long-acting reversible contraception, that is, intrauterine devices or implants. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates. The state also saw a 50 percent drop in repeat pregnancies among teens.

Public health officials there and elsewhere long have argued the use of long-acting reversible contraception can dramatically reduce the number of unintended pregnancies -- which make up a majority of teen pregnancies. Colorado’s initiative built upon a somewhat similar effort in St. Louis, Mo., which educated about 7,500 sexually active women on various forms of contraception and then offered to pay for that contraception over the next three years.

Seventy percent of women in the Missouri study chose an IUD or implant. The conclusion: those who chose short-term methods such as the pill or the patch were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who used an IUD or an implant.

Whether teens are delaying having sex or they are becoming savvier about using contraception, for their health and future prospects- it’s good to see that our young teenage girls are having fewer babies.

Sources: Jason Millman, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/20/the-uneven-and-historic-decline-in-teen-births/

Tina Griego, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/20/the-simple-policy-that-led-americas-biggest-drop-in-teen-pregnancies/

Your Teen

Is Your Teen’s Aching Knee More Than “Growing Pains”?

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Many kids experience what is commonly referred to as “growing pains” as they get older.  Children may experience aches and pains as young as 3 to 4 years old, then again around 8 to 12 years of age.

When a teen’s legs and knees hurt, he or she may also be told that they are probably suffering from growing pains and that they will grow out of it. 

There are times when a youngster or teen has simply overdone it by running and / or jumping too much. Like anyone else, if they haven’t used those muscles enough – they’ll be sore.

However, consistent knee pain is something else.

A Danish study says that if a teen’s knee pain persists, it could become a chronic condition affecting their quality of life.

"We can see from the study that one in three young people between the ages of 12 and 19 experience problems with pain in their knees," said Michael Skovdal Rathleff, a physiotherapist from Aarhus University. "Seven percent of the adolescents experience daily knee pain in the front of the knee. More than half still have problems after two years, so it is not something they necessarily grow out of."

The study involving 3,000 teens revealed knee pain is a more significant problem than previously thought.

"If knee pain is not treated there is a high risk of the pain becoming chronic. And this clearly has a big consequence for the individual's everyday life and opportunities," Rathleff noted in a university news release. "Our findings show that these adolescents have as much pain symptoms and reduced quality of life as adolescents on a waiting list for a cruciate knee ligament reconstruction, or as a 75-year-old six months after receiving a new knee."

Other studies have shown that about 25 percent of patients who've undergone a knee replacement because of osteoarthritis of the kneecap also had knee pain since they were teenagers. Osteoarthritis of the kneecap, the researchers concluded, may sometimes begin early in life. They added, however, that earlier treatment and proper training could help.

According to a study published in BMC Pediatrics, pain resolves in about half of the young people with knee pain when they get the right physical therapy. Unfortunately, many kids may not get the therapy they need soon enough.

"It is worrying that the pain only disappears in the case of half of the young people who actually do the training," said Rathleff. "The indications are that we should start the treatment somewhat earlier where it is easier to cure the pain."

Do all teens with a bad knee need physical therapy? Not necessarily, it all depends on the child's circumstances, Rathleff noted.

If your child has knee pain that doesn’t seem to go away or consistently comes and goes, you might want to talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about physical therapy and see if he or she recommends it. The benefits could be life changing for your active teen. 

Source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/teen-growing-pains-may-persist-for-years-690210.html

Your Teen

Overweight Girls Start Periods At Earlier Age

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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

Heroin Use Increasing Among Teens and Young Adults

2.00 to read

The sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an alleged overdose of heroin is truly sad. Remarks posted on the Internet range from praise and sadness at the loss of a great actor and friend to harsh condemnation of “another Hollywood junkie” and a “godless drug user” that threw away a life of privilege.

Yes, Hoffman made a bad decision when he began using drugs, but no one plans to become an addict.  Immaturity and a sense of being invincible are trademarks of teens and young adults. Reality is much different.  Somewhere along life’s journey, heroin addiction can and does happen to millions of people around the world. Drug abuse and addiction strangles the heart and soul of a person. Users aren’t always poor, uneducated, immoral or bad people. Addicts can also be smart, wealthy, good-hearted people; your neighbor, minister, family member, banker and yes, your child.

The drug culture is changing. Marijuana use among teens is at its highest in 30 years, In 2011, a national study showed that one in eight 8th graders, one in four 10th graders, and one in three 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year. Drug use is becoming more acceptable. While not all marijuana users will graduate to heroin or other drugs, many addicts began their drug abuse with marijuana.

Marijuana isn’t the only drug that kids are finding attractive. New, nationally projectable survey results released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation confirmed that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription (Rx) drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33 percent increase over the past five years.

The increase in prescription drug abuse is thought to be fueling a rise in heroin addiction, NBC News reports. A growing number of young people who start abusing expensive prescription drugs are switching to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to buy.

Prescription pain pills cost $20 to $60, while heroin costs $3 to $10 a bag. Many young people who use heroin start off snorting the drug, and within weeks, most start shooting up, according to the news report. A national crack down on prescription drugs like Vicodin, Oxycotin and Fentanyl – a powerful painkiller for cancer patients - has made the switch to heroin, as an affordable alternative, more rampant. 

Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.

The thing about heroin is that it is highly addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. Anyone from any socioeconomic group and age bracket can easily become addicted with a very short span of repeated use. 

Heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.

It can be injected, inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoked. Once it’s in the body, it enters the brain where it is converted back into morphine - which binds to opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and body) and are especially involved in the perception of pain and reward.

Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls automatic processes critical for life, such as blood pressure, arousal, and respiration. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of breathing, which can be fatal if not addressed. Most fatal overdoses occur when someone is using alone.

In a short amount of time, a tolerance to the drug builds up so that it takes more heroin to get the same “euphotic” results. Even a short break in usage can cause an overdose if the user ingests the same amount of heroin they were using before the break.  

Recent surveys of teens and college age young adults reveal that this age group doesn’t believe that occasional use of heroin is dangerous. That should be a large red flag to parents of teens and soon to be or enrolled college students.

Hoffman previously stated that his long battle with drugs began during his college days. “It was all that [drugs and alcohol], yeah, it was anything I could get my hands on… I liked it all,” he said. That attitude is still rampant among teens and college students today.

At 22 years old, Hoffman entered rehab and stayed sober for 23 years. Last May he entered rehab again for a 10-day detox program. On Sunday, he died of an apparent overdose of heroin. He was only 46 years old.

Heroin use among the young isn’t a new thing, but it’s increasing annually. Heroin isn’t the only drug epidemic that has a hold on many kids. Stimulates are very popular in high school and college, especially around exam time.

How can you tell if someone is using heroin?  Heroin is usually smoked, snorted or injected. You may find the remnants of use in the bedroom, closet or bathroom. Heroin is a powdery or crumbly substance. The color is typically off white to dark brown. Black tar heroin is nearly black and is sticky instead of powdery. Syringes or small glass or metal pipes are used when someone is injecting. Spoons and lighters are used to cook the drug before injection and something like a belt, thin rubber hose or tie is often wrapped around the arm, hand or leg to make a vein stand out.

Users will usually get a dry mouth and his or her skin will flush. Small punctures in the skin appear (tracks or needle marks) in the arms, hands, legs and even feet. Heroin can cause someone to nod off in mid-sentence. Breathing is slowed. A user’s thinking is typically impaired. They will tend to lose some memory. Self-control and good decision-making suffers. Some users itch a lot, are nauseated and vomit. Skin infections and constipation are common.  Heroin users tend to become isolated except when they need to get more drugs. Personality changes occur and mood swings are typical. 

So, make sure your child understands the danger of stimulates or opioid abuse, whether they are prescriptions drugs, morphine, cocaine, Ritalin, Adderall or heroin long before he or she is ready to leave home. Its availability and temptation is much more widespread than you think.

Source: http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/in-the-news/377-prescription-drug-abuse-fueling-rise-in-heroin-addiction

http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/pats-2012

http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/signs-symptoms-heroin-use.html

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