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

“Sexting” and Teen’s Sexual Activity

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Sexting is texting accompanied with sexual pictures of your self to someone else. They can be nude photos, pictures of genitalia only or provocative poses. A new study looks at teens and sexting to see if teens that participate in sexting are more likely to become sexually active. A kind of which comes first scenario- sexual activity then sexting, or sexting then sexual activity?

Earlier research has shown teens that sext with explicit images are more likely to be sexually active than kids that don’t sext.

But which comes first?

The new findings suggest that, at least for some kids, the sexting comes first – the activity later. It’s being referred to as the current form of “getting to first base.”

“This behavior isn’t always new, it’s just a new medium,” said Jeff Temple, an associate professor and psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the study’s author. “But it’s not safe because it can be shared.”

The study’s findings come from a 2012 study covering a 6-year period. Almost 1,000 teens in Texas answered anonymous surveys detailing their history of sexting, sexual activity and other behaviors.

Temple and his postdoctoral fellow, Hye Jeong Choi, then looked at data from years two and three of the surveys to determine if sexting led to risky behaviors or if risky behaviors came first.

“Sexting preceded sexual behavior in many cases,” Temple said. “The theory behind that is sexting may act as a gateway or prelude to sexual behaviors or increases the acceptance of going to the next level.”

The study also found that among the teens having sex, most weren’t engaging in risky sexual behaviors.

Temple, who spends much of his time working with teens in local high schools and middle schools to discuss issues related to sexuality said this news shouldn’t send parents locking their kids away. In fact, he welcomed the findings, as a “call to arms to talk to your kid about sexual health or behavior,” he said. “This is kind of good news that sexting comes first. So if I catch them sexting, then maybe I have an opportunity to talk to them.”

While sexting is certainly a concern for parents, the subject itself is something that teens and parents should spend time discussing. The more trust worthy information teens have on the subject of sex, the better decisions they are able to make and the better they are at protecting their mental and physical health.

Source: Amy Joyce, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/06/sexting-is-the-new-first-base-yes-maybe-even-your-child/

Your Teen

“Little Cigars” That Taste Like Candy

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In another attempt to hook teens and young adults to a life-long nicotine addiction, tobacco companies are now offering “little cigars” as candy flavored tobacco.

Scientists compared the chemical flavorings, and the level of those flavorings, in candy, Kool-Aid and tobacco products.

Researchers found that there was a distinct similarity in the kinds of flavorings used in all three products. In fact, in some of the tobacco products, the levels of flavorings were much higher than in typical candy and Kool-Aid.

U.S. health officials are concerned that the sweet flavors may mask the bitter taste of tobacco, luring people into a very addictive habit that creates great health risks.

"The same, familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products," the researchers wrote in their letter. "What we are seeing is truly candy-flavored tobacco."

According to an October 2013 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two out of every five teen smokers already use flavored products. Nearly 60 % of those smoking little cigars have no desire to quit, compared to 49 % of other cigar smokers.

Since 1990, flavored cigarettes haven been banned in the U.S., but tobacco companies have found a way to get around those regulations with the “little cigars”. They weigh slightly more than cigarettes avoiding regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, the FDA does not regulate cigars.

When the CDC report was first released back in October, agency officials warned of the health dangers inherent in these products.

"Flavored or not, cigars cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other health problems. Flavored little cigars appeal to youth and the use of these tobacco products may lead to disfigurement, disability and premature death," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in an agency news release at the time. "We need to take comprehensive steps to reduce all tobacco use for all of our youth."

Another CDC official put it this way:

"Many little cigars bear a remarkable resemblance to cigarettes. In fact, some youth who are smoking cigarettes may be smoking flavored little cigars that they've mistaken for cigarettes," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "The concern it raises for us is because little cigars are so similar to cigarettes, this represents a loophole in the FDA's ban on flavored cigarettes."

The sales of little cigars increased 240% from 1997 to 2007, with flavored brands making up almost 80% of the cigar market according to the CDC.

E-cigarettes are taking their cue from the success of flavored tobacco products. It seems that if a tobacco product is overly sweetened to the point of hiding an unpleasant taste someone will smoke, chew or inhale it.

It’s pretty obvious that tobacco companies know their golden goose is literally dying off and want to attract new consumers. They can’t advertise directly to kids and teens so they quietly add more and more products that appeal to adventurous young people.

Unfortunately, the sweetness will dissolve into a bitter addiction and possible life-long health problems for this new generation of users.

The analysis of the sweetened tobacco products was published online in the May 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Robin Foster, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/smoking-cessation-news-628/little-cigars-popular-among-teens-just-candy-flavored-tobacco-report-687628.html

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

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

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

When Your College Freshman Calls Home...

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There once was a time when most of my friends were dropping their children off for their first day of school. Now it seems like a lot of them are packing the car and dropping their child off at college!

My how the time goes by.

Sooner or later, the parents of these kids may get a phone call, email or text (most likely the latter) from their young independent child saying they are a little homesick or overwhelmed by all the challenges of college life. That’s a normal reaction to immense change.

A recent article I read hit home on a lot of the trials that kids face when experiencing total freedom from their every day parental input. The article was written from the perspective of what one young lady wished she had known before going to college, but I thought it offered good advice for parents looking for ways to reassure and offer advice (when asked) to their new college student as well.

1. Let them know that everyone is in the same position as they are. College is the time to be friendly and open to meeting new people. Remind them that they can feel less intimidated by remembering that others are in the same situation as they are and will likely be grateful if your student reaches out to them.

2. Coping with roommates. It’s not easy living in the same room as someone, no matter how well you get along. Your college student may have shared a room with a brother or sister before, but this is completely different.

Let them know that coordinating sleep schedules to when they can have guests over, having a roommate requires constant communication and compromising. 

Whether they choose to live with someone who they already know or with someone new, being direct, open and considerate can help build a successful relationship with their roommate. 

However, if they do end up in a difficult roommate situation, they can talk to their resident adviser. He or she will hopefully be able to help them resolve the situation, whether it’s talking through their disagreements or switching roommates. 

3. Alcohol. Most college students are going to have the opportunity to drink alcohol either on or off campus. It’s one of those “new experiences” that can quickly get out of control. Remind your child that drinking brings risks. Take the time for a heart–to-heart, particularly with young women, about the dangers of being drunk and vulnerable with people you don’t know well. Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of a violent crime, or alcohol-related traffic crash. That’s not just parental paranoia; it’s a fact.

There are several very good websites that have articles on talking to your teen and college student about drinking. One such website is: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/otheralcoholinformation/makedifference.aspx.

Drug use falls into the same category. I wish there was a magic button to press to keep our kids safe and away from all dangers, but there isn’t. Open communication, watching for signs in changes of behavior and fingers crossed are our best options right now.

While it’s not the most important topic related to college drinking, a gentle reminder that booze can also add a lot of calories and increase the probability of gaining the traditional freshman 15 pounds (or more) may not hurt either.

 

4. Staying ahead of the game. Procrastinating on completing schoolwork until the night before can lead to pulling all-nighters, high stress and low grades. If grades or school pressure is giving your child an extra dose of anxiety, suggest making a schedule, keeping a to-do list and setting goals for the semester that reflect their priorities. Make big projects more manageable by breaking them into small steps to complete over time. 

5. Get to know the professors. Your child may feel a little lost in the crowd and the classroom, especially in the larger schools and classes. Ask them if they are making an effort to get to know their professors. It’s amazing how many kids don’t. These people understand how difficult it can be to start a new adventure and not have the peer support someone is used to. They see it every year. 

Also, they may also be the ones your child turns to when needing a recommendation. Mention that they could introduce themselves, visit with their professors during office hours and ask questions about their courses and interests. Let them know their professors may be able to introduce them to others in their field or help them get their first job out of college.

You never know how valuable a certain relationship can be.

6. Finances. Here are some tips for managing their finances. Let them know that there are many ways they can cut back on costs while in school if they think strategically. Search for the cheapest place to buy textbooks, such as renting them for the semester through Amazon, or downloading the texts.

Look into scholarships through the school or outside organizations. Sites like Scholarships.com or Fastweb.com can help you find scholarships that are specific to your needs. 

And if their schedule allows, get a part-time job so they can help pay for food and housing. Many people have helped pay for or paid entirely for their own college education. It can actually help someone appreciate the opportunities that college offers more.

Four years will pass in the wink of an eye, just like the years since your child first walked through the doors of grade school. Life’s funny that way.

This isn’t the complete list that the author outlines in her article; you can see more ideas on the link listed below.

When children are finally college bound, it’s an exciting and bittersweet time for parents. Just remember to keep the communication going, the welcome door open and the washer and dryer ready for a new load. They’ll be in touch.

Source: Sarah Bourassa, http://www.today.com/parents/11-things-i-wish-i-knew-going-college-1D80098788

Your Teen

More Teens Smoking With Hookahs

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I suppose this could fall into the “everything old is new" category. A recent study says that hookah smoking is gaining in popularity among teens. Actually, I thought hookahs went out with the sixties, but apparently they are making a dramatic come back. In fact, the study says that nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors used the popular water pipe sometime during the last year.

The study’s findings reflected earlier research that showed teens of families in the higher economic strata were more likely to use hookahs as well as males, white students, those who already smoke cigarettes, and those who had previously used alcohol, marijuana or other illicit substances.

The national data sampled 5,540 high-school seniors between 2010 and 2012.

"When it comes to cigarette smoking, at least now, we tend to think of it as more associated with lower socioeconomic status and lower parental education," says lead study author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. That was the exact opposite for students most likely to engage in using hookahs, he says.

"Given the cost of frequenting hookah bars, it is not surprising that wealthier students, as indicated by higher weekly income, are more regular visitors, although it remains unknown what proportion of hookah use occurs in hookah bars versus in homes or other noncommercial settings," the study noted.

Data for the study came from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future survey, which recently reported that hookah smoking among high-school seniors in the past year rose to 21%.

Many people think that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking. But that’s not true says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It notes that many of the same cigarette smoking health risks apply to hookah smoking.

Other research shows hookahs — which use specially made tobacco known as shisha, available in a variety of fruit and candy flavors — deliver tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide in even higher doses than cigarettes.

A 2005 World Health Organization report said that a water-pipe smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes.

Some non-tobacco hookah products claim that they can be used without the health risks of tobacco products. The CDC says studies of tobacco-based and herbal versions of shisha show that smoke from both types "contain carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease."

Another myth associated with hookahs is that the water used in a hookah acts as a filter to remove harmful ingredients. Not so say heath experts.

Many modern hookahs have imaginative designs and are brightly colored. They are coolly intended to attract a younger generation of customers. 

There are also new products such as electronic smoking devices known as hookah pens, hookah sticks and e-hookahs that have recently come on the market may be the next step in "normalizing" hookah use and making it seem like the cool thing to try and many are falling for it.

So, you might want to talk to your teen about hookahs and hear what they have to say. I’m betting there are a lot of misconceptions about the health risks of hookah smoking especially if it contains non-tobacco products.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Michelle Healy, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/07/hookah-use-high-school-seniors/12074889/

Your Teen

Helping Others May Help Teens Beat Depression

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Want to help your teen avoid the powerful pull of adolescent depression? Start early by introducing him or her to the gift of giving.

 A new study says that teens who like to help others may be less likely to develop depression.

The study included 15- and 16-year-olds that were given three types of tasks: give money to others, keep the money for themselves or take financial risks with the hope of earning a reward.

The teens were checked for symptoms of depression at the start of the study and a year later.

To see if there was a possible link between pleasure, altruistic behavior and depression, researchers monitored activity levels in the area of the brain called the ventral striatum. This part of the brain controls feelings of pleasure linked to rewards. 

Previous studies have looked at ventral striatum activity and teen behavior associated with risk-taking. But this time, scientists wanted to see if doing for others offered it’s own kind of unique reward.

What if the pleasure center was rewarded with simply helping others through difficult times? Could that kind of activity offer a somewhat equal sense of satisfaction? If so, it might save a lot of young lives and prevent serious injuries that can last a lifetime.

 “There’s this trend where from childhood to adolescence, morbidity and mortality rates increase 200 to 300 percent, and it’s almost entirely due to these preventable risk-taking behaviors,” study author Eva Telzer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release.

“Depressive symptoms also tend to increase during this time,” she said.

The study showed that activity in the ventral striatum in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects’ depressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time.

“If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time,” said Telzer.

“And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression.” she said.

Today’s society seems to run much faster and is more hectic than in previous generations. Families are spread out across the country and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is important in the short time that we have here on earth and carve out a place for reaching out to those who may need an extra hand, a few dollars or a kind word during difficult times.

"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centered rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviors, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," Telzer noted.

Teaching children how to volunteer when they are young and exposing them to other people’s circumstances and beliefs may open a space in their hearts that could help them keep things in perspective by the time they are teens and young adults.

Sources: Rick Nauert PhD, http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/25/pro-social-teens-less-likely-to-be-depressed/68969.html

Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/briefs-emb-4-24-teens-altruism-depression-pnas-u-illinois-release-batch-1158-687211.html

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