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

Teen’s E-cigarette Use Linked to Family and Friends

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For many teens, e-cigarettes have taken the place of the traditional combustible cigarette. A new study suggests that teenagers are more likely to use electronic cigarettes if their friends or a family member uses them.

It’s a pretty safe bet that no teen ever started smoking traditional cigarettes because they tasted good. More than likely it was because someone thought it was cool, felt like walking on the edge of rebellion, watched family members light up on a daily basis or a friend pressured them to give it a try.

These days, the reasons teens smoke e-cigarettes are pretty much the same as they are for regular cigarettes. However, these new nicotine packed products have a number of appealing differences for those just starting out. They don’t smell bad or leave a lingering aroma, they taste a little like candy, and no one is quite sure whether they are producing unhealthy side effects that will come back to haunt you later in life.

“There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes," said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Other studies have linked e-cigarette and traditional cigarette use, but this new study suggests that teens who begin smoking with e-cigarettes may belong to their own unique group.  

Researchers found that many of the teens in the study that said they'd recently used e-cigarettes, had never smoked traditional cigarettes. This was their first venture into smoking.

"If you think of e-cigarette and cigarette use as two circles, the overlap isn’t as big as expected," Barrington-Trimis said.

Using data collected in 2014 from 2,084 Southern California teens, the authors found that about 25 percent reported ever using e-cigarettes and about 20 percent reported ever using traditional cigarettes.

This finding is a cause for concern because e-cigarettes were the dominant tobacco product used, and a substantial proportion of e-cigarette users had no history of cigarette use, the authors noted in their report.

Fourteen percent of teens thought e-cigarettes are not harmful, compared to about 1 percent who thought cigarettes are not harmful. The teens also felt their peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use than traditional cigarette use.

Like many other studies on the use of e-cigarettes, this one can’t say with absolute certainty that smoking e-cigarettes leads to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, the researchers suggest that the more accepted these products become by teenagers, the more they contribute to the “re-normalization” of tobacco products.

"Our findings really suggest there’s a lot of kids who are using these e-cigarettes," Barrington-Trimis said.

The lack of research makes it difficult to know what to tell people about e-cigarettes, she added.

She said parents should tell their children that while research into the health effects of e-cigarettes is still in its infancy, nicotine is known to impact youngsters' developing brains.

Nicotine is also highly addictive and one of the most difficult drugs to break free from.  The longer you smoke – whether it’s e-cigarettes or combustible cigarettes – the harder it is to quit. Plus, little is known about the chemicals used to create the sweet tasting flavors of e-cigarettes.

Parents should make sure they know if their child or their child’s friends are using e-cigarettes. Unfortunately in this day and age, discussions about smoking and drug use have to begin early in a child’s life. Waiting till your child is a pre-teen or teenager to talk about e-cigarettes may be too little too late.  

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/27/us-health-teens-smoking-ecigarettes-idUSKCN0Q11YC20150727

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/07/21/peds.2015-0639.full.pdf+html

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

Heroin Use Increasing Among Teens and Young Adults

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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

Your Teen

Teen Athletes Leading the Nation in Tommy John Surgeries

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Teen athletes accounted for more than half of the Tommy John surgeries performed in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 according to a new study. The surgery is actually an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Tommy John was the first Major League baseball pitcher to have the surgery and the nickname has now become common use.

 “Our results showed that 15- to 19-year-olds accounted for 56.7 percent of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (UCLR) or Tommy John surgeries performed in the US between 2007 to 2011," said lead study author Brandon Erickson, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in a press release. "This is a significant increase over time with an average increase of 9.12 percent per year.”

Once a player has the surgery, he or she needs a good 12 to 15 months of recovery time before they are able to return to a high level of sport activity. Oftentimes, a second surgery may be required as the athlete continues to strain the ligament.

Baseball pitchers are the athletes that most often require the surgery because of the way they pitch; overhanded instead of underhanded. Many believe that the problems start in the teenage years with players who throw harder than ever and don't ever take a month off.

Dr. Erickson and his team looked at a private insurance database to identify patients who received UCLR surgeries throughout the US.

About 4 out of every 100,000 patients who had surgery between 2007 and 2011 had a UCLR surgery. These patients were overwhelmingly male, with 32 percent coming from the 15- to 17-year-old age group and 22 percent coming from the 20- to 24-year-old age group.

These surgeries grew at a rate of 4.2 percent each year between 2007 and 2011. And more than half were performed in the southern region of the US.

Another reason many teen athletes are susceptible to injury is that they play only one sport and play year-round, never giving their immature bodies enough time to rest and repair.

According to Dr. Erickson, more attention should be given to prevention because overuse injuries tend to occur in intensive training and high-performance games.

"The research numbers suggest that more young athletes believe that having an UCLR procedure performed earlier in their career may lead to the big leagues or a scholarship, even though only 1 in 200 kids who play high school baseball will make it to the MLB," Dr. Erickson said. "This paradigm shift needs to be evaluated further to help prevent overuse injuries in kids from the beginning of the season when most issues arise."

Some teens simply play through the pain without considering the possible long-term physical problems that could quickly end the career they worked so hard to attain. It’s up to the adults in their lives to watch over and give them the guidance they need to stay healthy. Parents and coaches need to make sure that their kids and students are following the safety rules established by the sport associations and organizations.

This study was presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer- reviewed.

Source: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrx.com/tommy-john-surgeries-elbow-overuse-injuries-were-common-teen-athletes

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

Teens Using Internet for Better Health

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There’s been a lot of bad news concerning teens and the Internet but finally there’s something good to report. According to a new study, many adolescents are using the Internet to research ideas on how they can improve their health.

In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study to be released Tuesday by researchers at Northwestern University.

Now that’s the kind of Internet use that makes parents let out a sigh of relief.

The study emphasizes the importance of making sure that there is accurate and easy to understand information that is available “because it’s used and acted upon,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

While social media may be the new neighborhood community, 88 percent of the participants said they didn’t want to share their health concerns on Facebook or on one of the many other social media outlets.

“I mainly find it kind of moving, because it really illustrates that a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and that the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves,” said Vicky Rideout, a co-author of the study.

Researchers surveyed 1,156 American teenagers between 13- and 18-years-old. Teens in English-speaking households were surveyed last fall, and those in Spanish-dominant households were surveyed in March. Eighty percent of those surveyed attended public school.

The survey explored how often teens use online tools, how much information they receive, what topics they are most concerned with, what sources they trust and whether they have changed their health behaviors as a result.

The top health topics were fitness and exercise (42 percent), diet and nutrition (36 percent), stress or anxiety (19 percent), sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

While Internet health-related searchers are growing in popularity, parents are still the number one choice for teens to learn about health issues (55 percent).

The next source was health classes in school, doctors and nurses and Internet searches being the fourth most popular way to get the information they wanted.

“The Internet is not replacing parents, teachers, and doctors; it is supplementing them,” the researchers wrote.

In fact, 23 percent of teens say they have gone online to research information about a condition that affects a friend or family member. Data from the study indicates that 31 percent of low-income teens have done so, compared with 18 percent of high-income teens.

What are the top health topics teens are Googling? Fitness and exercise was number one (42 percent). Followed by diet and nutrition (36 percent). Next up was stress or anxiety (19 percent), and a few that many parents might not think of; sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

The survey points out that teens may need extra attention when it comes to digital literacy skills. So many articles are wrapped in advertising that is trying to sell someone a particular weight-loss product or new diet aid. Half of teens say they usually click on the first site that comes up. Domain names that end with “.edu” are more trusted than those that end with “.com,” the survey found.

“We need to make sure there is good information for teens online,” Rideout said. Teens could be influenced by the tweets they see about e-cigarettes without realizing that a large proportion are coming from manufacturers, she said.

Still though, teens are learning a lot from the Internet; a place where they can search for answers anonymously. It’s up to parents, teachers, doctors and nurses to guide them towards websites with sound information that is based on on the kinds of websites where they can find science-centered information and helpful advice.

Source: Lena H. Sun, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nearly-13-of-teens-changed-health-habits-based-on-digital-search-study-finds/2015/06/01/c6679aec-0892-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

Are Energy Drinks Rotting Your Teen’s Teeth?

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A lot of parents know that too many high sugar sodas are not only hazardous to their child’s waistline and health, but they can also cause cavities. But what about the energy drinks teens are gulping down? A new study suggests those drinks could be stripping the enamel right off their teeth.   

In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers have looked for the first time at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. It turns out there's often a lot of citric acid in the drinks.

To give drinks a long shelf life and to enhance flavors, preservatives are added. It’s the preservatives that are very good at stripping the enamel off of teeth.

Dentists are especially worried about teens. 30 to 50 percent are now drinking energy and sports drinks and losing enamel. Once it's gone, teeth are more prone to cavities and more likely to decay.

"We are well aware of the damage that sugar does in the mouth and in the whole body — the role it can play in obesity, diabetes, etc," says Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and the lead author of the study. "But the average consumer is not very well aware that acid does all kinds of damage, too."

To measure just how energy and sports drinks affect teeth, the researchers looked at the fluoride levels, pH, and something called "titratable acidity" of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, including Gatorade and Red Bull.

The researchers then measured how much enamel the drinks took off teeth, dousing sliced-up molars in a petri dish with the beverages for 15 minutes, followed by artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days.

The researchers found that teeth lost enamel with exposure to both kinds of drinks, but energy drinks took off a lot more enamel than sports drinks.

Drink labels list citric acid in the ingredients, but they don’t have to show the precise amount.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) was quick to respond to the study.  

"It is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities)," the ABA said in a statement responding to Jain's paper. "Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person's dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up."

"This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality," the ABA noted in its statement. "People do not keep any kind of liquid in their mouths for 15 minute intervals over five day periods. Thus, the findings of this paper simply cannot be applied to real life situations."

Jain is concerned about health effects beyond cavities. She says consuming a lot of citric acid can lead to loss of bone mass and kidney stones. "This has become a big concern because people are drinking more of these drinks and less milk," she says.

Dentist Dr. Jennifer Bone, spokesperson for Academy of General Dentistry, the organization that publishes the journal, said in the statement that teens and adults should curb their intake of these types of drinks. If they're going to drink one anyway, she recommends they chew sugar-free gum or rinse their mouth with water after drinking the beverage.

"Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal," Bone said.

Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/health/main204.shtml?tag=hdr;cnav

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health

Your Teen

Sugary Drinks May Increase Early Menstruation in Girls

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The consumption of sugar-filled beverages has been linked to an increased risk of childhood obesity and type2 diabetes. A new study shines another light on the association between high-sugar drinks and young girl’s potential health problems.

Researchers found that, on average, girls who consumed more than 1.5 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages started menstruation 2.7 months earlier than girls who consumed two or fewer servings of these drinks each week.

The team said their findings raise concerns because earlier menstruation has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer. They say a 1-year decrease in age at first menstruation is estimated to raise the risk of breast cancer by 5%. "Thus, a 2.7-month decrease in age at menarche likely has a modest impact on breast cancer risk."

In another study, early menstruation has also been linked to a slight increase of risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of the US population consumes sugary drinks on any given day, including around 60% of females aged 2-19 years.

This latest study is the first to associate sugary drink consumption in girls with the age of first menstruation, or menarche.

To reach their findings, Prof. Karin Michels, associate professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and her team analyzed 5,583 girls aged 9-14 years who were a part of the Growing Up Today Study, which involves 16,875 children of participants from the Nurses Health Study II.

At the beginning of the study in 1996, none of the girls had started their periods. In a follow-up in 2001, 159 girls (3% of the participants) had started menstruation.

During the 5-year study, the girls were required to complete a dietary questionnaire that revealed their consumption of sugary drinks. The drinks contained added sugars such as sucrose, glucose and corn syrup.

They were also asked how often they consumed the drinks.

The team found that at any age between 9 and 18.5 years, girls who consumed more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks each day were approximately 24% more likely to begin menstruation in the next month than girls who drank two or fewer servings each week.

Overall, the girls who drank the most sugar-laden drinks began their periods aged 12.8 years, while those who drank the least amount began menstruation at age 13.

These results remained significant even after the researchers accounted for other factors that could influence the age of first menstruation, such as body mass index (BMI), birth weight, height physical activity, ethnicity/race, family composition and how often the girls ate dinner with their family.

The team notes sugary drinks have a higher glycemic index than naturally sweetened drinks, which can trigger a rise in insulin concentrations. An increase in insulin concentrations can lead to a rise in concentrations of sex hormones, which can cause earlier menstruation - a potential explanation for the team's findings.

While drinking too many sugary drinks may lead to early menstruation in young girls, the more pressing health problem is likely to be obesity and type2 diabetes. These are problems that can lead to more serious health issues over a child’s lifetime.

Helping children understand the health benefits of laying –off these kinds of drinks (whether regular or artificially sweetened), when they are young will make it much easier for them to resist getting hooked by the time they reach the age of puberty.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Source: Honor Whiteman, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288587.php

Your Teen

CDC Recommends Meningitis Booster For 16 Year Olds

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Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord, usually due to the spread of an infection. The swelling associated with meningitis often triggers the "hallmark" signs and symptoms of this condition, including headache, fever and a stiff neck in anyone over the age of 2. Children of any age can get meningitis, but because it can be easily spread among people living in close quarters, teens, college students, and boarding-school students are at higher risk for infection.

A panel of federal vaccine experts narrowly voted to add a booster dose of a meningitis vaccine to teens at age 16. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 6-5  to add a booster dose of the vaccine at age 16 to address waning immunity among older teens against meningococcal bacteria that causes meningitis. Three members abstained. The CDC already recommends routine meningitis vaccination beginning at age 11. The committee, which advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also recommended that adolescents who get the first dose of the vaccine at age 13 through 15 get a one-time booster dose five years later. "We're adding a booster because the current available data show that within five years, there is waning immunity," said Alison Patti, a spokesperson with the CDC.

The panel had considered simply moving up the recommended vaccination age from 11 to 14 or 15, but that raised concerns among panelists and experts that many younger teens and at-risk youth would be left unprotected. The National Meningitis Association said in a statement it supports ACIP's decision to maintain meningococcal immunization at age 11-12 and to add a booster dose to provide increased prevention of disease among adolescents throughout their high-risk years. "This is a good public health decision that will protect our children from meningococcal disease," the group said, adding that it will support the changes in educational campaigns.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord, usually due to the spread of an infection. The swelling associated with meningitis often triggers the "hallmark" signs and symptoms of this condition, including headache, fever and a stiff neck in anyone over the age of 2. Most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections also can lead to meningitis. There's no way to know what kind of meningitis you or your child has without seeing your doctor and undergoing spinal fluid testing.

 •       Viral meningitis may improve without treatment in a few days.

 •       Bacterial meningitis is serious, can come on very quickly and requires prompt antibiotic treatment to improve the chances of a recovery without serious complications. Delaying treatment for bacterial meningitis increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death. In addition, bacterial meningitis can prove fatal in a matter of days. Also talk to your doctor if a family member or someone you work with has meningitis. You may need to take medications to prevent getting sick.

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