Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

2:00

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 Shows Bipolar Disorder Can Linger Into Young Adulthood

A recent study suggests that children with bipolar disorder may continue to have bouts with the condition as young adults. The study, published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, found that 44-percent of people who had the condition as children still had them in the late teens and beyond. The study, done by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, followed 108 bipolar diagnosed children for 8 years. By the end of the study, half the patients were 18 or older and 44-percent of that group continued to have episodes of mania and depression.

The study also found that while approximately 88-percent of those studied recovered from the disorder, nearly three quarters of them relapsed. More Information: Archives of General Psychiatry (Free Article) More Information: Bipolar Disorder In Children & Teens (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Your Teen

More Teens Fall Victim to Dating Violence

2:00

The teenage years are supposed to be filled with laughter, fun and testing the boundaries of parental control. It’s also a time when many boys and girls will start dating. For some teens, the beginning of couple relationships is about as far away from fun as it could possibly be.

Some teenagers may think that teasing and name-calling are somehow linked with a fondness for someone, and that might have been true when they were six or seven years old. However, by the time a young girl or boy reaches their teenage years, that kind of behavior can take on a much different tone. What was once an awkward attempt at gaining someone’s attention can turn into physical and sexual abuse.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is happening more than you might think.

Twenty-one percent of high school girls have been physically or sexually assaulted by someone they dated -- a figure twice as high as previously estimated.

Ten percent of high school boys also reported being physically or sexually assaulted by someone they had dated.

The authors of the new report noted that the CDC has changed the way it phrases its questions about teen dating violence, leading more students to report assaults.

Sadly, teens that have experienced dating violence are at risk for other serious problems as well. Research has shown that they are more than twice as likely to consider suicide. They are also more likely to get into fights, carry a weapon, use alcohol, marijuana or cocaine and to have sex with multiple partners. Not the kind of life any parent would want for their teenager or the one that they would truly want for themselves.  

Researchers don't know if any of these events causes the others. While it's possible that dating violence could cause thoughts of suicide, it's also possible that children who are depressed are more likely than others to fall into abusive relationships, says Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston who was not involved in the study.

Assaults by romantic partners often aren't isolated events. Many teens reported being assaulted multiple times, according to the study, based on the CDC's Youth Behavior Risk Surveillance System using questionnaires answered by more than 13,000 high school students.

"If there is violence once, there is likely to be violence again," Spinks-Franklin says. "It has to be taken very seriously."

Spinks-Franklin says she has seen violence even among relationships between 10- and 11-year-olds.

"If a parent is concerned that a child is in an unhealthy relationship, they need to address it, but do it in a way that doesn't make the child shut down," she says. "They need to feel safe telling a parent."

Teens often hide the abuse from their parents, Spinks-Franklin says. Teens may not be able to confide in friends, either, because abusers sometimes isolate their victims from loved ones. Teens are sometimes more willing to talk to doctors, especially if their parents are not in the room.

Some schools have taken the lead in promoting awareness of and education on teen dating violence. Pediatricians can also discuss this important topic with their patients and parents. If time is limited, brochures in the waiting room can offer information and open the door for questions.

"This study makes it even more important for parents to ask lots of questions and get to know their teen's friends and significant others, and not ignore anything that makes them uncomfortable," says McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital. "They also shouldn't ignore any changes in their teen's behavior."

Dating violence may never be eliminated one hundred percent, but can be considerably lessoned when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.

One of the best strategies for prevention is for parents and teens to be able to communicate about serious topics without judgmental attitudes or closed-minded opinions. Your teen wants your help even if he or she doesn’t know how to ask. They'll appreciate you being there before and when they need you.

The new study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Sources: Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/03/02/teen-dating-violence-study/24127121/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html

Your Teen

Studies: Smoking and Students

1.45 to read

Everyone knows that smoking is really bad for you. But, how do you help kids keep from starting the expensive and nasty habit in the first place? Peer pressure seems to help. And for young adults who are already smokers, what will it take to break the habit? Perhaps being able to breathe better is a key motivator.

Kids as young as 10 admit to sneaking a smoke every once in a while, while 17 percent of high-school students and 5.2 percent of middle-school students admit to being daily cigarette smokers. Many college students bring their habit with them when they enroll.

What helps kids keep from starting to smoke? A new study suggests that kids who are involved in team sports with teammates, who do not smoke, are less likely to start. 

Interestingly, the study showed that girls involved in sports with teammates who do smoke, are more likely to give it a try. Peer pressure seems to have more of an impact among girls.

"This result suggests that peers on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," study leader Kayo Fujimoto, who conducted the research while at the University of Southern California, said in a journal news release.

Researchers questioned 1,260 sixth through eighth graders about their smoking behavior. The children were middle class, lived in urban areas and ethnically diverse. The study, appearing Feb. 8 in Child Development, found that the more sports the kids played, the less likely they were to smoke.

The authors of the study believe that these findings may be helpful in improving anti-smoking campaigns aimed at children.

"Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," said Fujimoto. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."

Another recent study focused on college students who smoke.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 327 college students- ages 18 to 24 years old- who participated in a program to help motivate them to quit smoking. More than half the students smoked five to 10 cigarettes a day and had smoked for one to five years.

Participants who quit smoking for two weeks or more reported substantially fewer respiratory symptoms, especially coughing, than those who failed to kick the habit.

"That the benefit of stopping smoking starts in days to weeks -- not years or decades -- is important. Now health care providers can counsel young smokers that their breathing can feel better soon after they stop. This can help to motivate young adults to stop smoking before the severe damage is done," journal editor Dr. Harold Farber, an associate professor of pediatrics in the pulmonology section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a journal news release.

Smoking has continued to decrease on college campuses, perhaps due to stricter smoking policies. Many colleges prohibit smoking anywhere on campus, and others do not allow smoking within a certain amount of feet from doorways. Cigarettes are expensive as well. Many college students are barely getting by with the increase costs in tuition. Something has to give, and cutting out cigarettes can save a pretty tidy sum. Also, smoking has lost a lot of its “cool” factor. Many students just find it annoying. 

Health professionals are always looking for ways to impress upon young people that smoking isn’t only a social nuisance, it can also become a serious long-term health problem.

Perhaps these studies can offer counselors, parents and friends, new discussion points in the battle to help kids avoid smoking or to help them quit. 

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=66152 /  http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/26596

Your Teen

Teenage Heavy Pot Use and Memory Loss

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Teen

Gym Class Injuries Sending More Kids to the ER

Children these days are more likely to get hurt in gym class than they were a decade ago, a new study published in Pediatrics shows.

A lack of supervision and school nurses may be part of the reason behind a 150% jump in physical education (PE)-related injuries treated at emergency departments between 1997 and 2007, said Dr. Lara McKenzie of National Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the lead researcher on the study. But whatever the cause behind the trend, McKenzie was quick to add, the benefits of participating in PE far outweigh any risks. Researchers examined data from the US Consumer Products Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which tracks sports and recreation-related injuries treated at a nationally representative sample of about 100 US hospital emergency departments. While the system reported an estimated 24,347 physical education-related injuries in 1997, there were 62,408 in 2007. The increase was seen for both boys and girls and across all age groups. About one in five of the injuries were strains or sprains of the legs, while about one in seven were broken arms, or arm sprains or strains. Six sports accounted for 70% of injuries: running, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. The study didn’t look at why physical education injuries had increased. But researchers say it may be because fewer schools have full-time nurses on staff to help hurt kids. Schools may also be packing more kids into gym classes, making it harder for teachers to supervise them, McKenzie added. Just 36% of schools that require PE classes set a maximum student/teacher ratio, McKenzie and her colleagues note in their report. That means that "more equipment, more gym teachers, more training, more nurses--all of those may be beneficial to help reduce PE injuries," she said.

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

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Less, Texting While Driving More

2.00 to read

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to emotional highs and lows and it typically shows in their behavior. Mixed in with lots of good days and excellent choices are temptations and decisions that put them at high risk for dangerous and sometimes deadly outcomes. It’s all part of the adolescent stage of life.

The good news is that a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows teenagers are smoking cigarettes, using drugs, fighting and drinking alcohol less.

They’re also more likely to wear their seatbelts and helmets when they are supposed to.

On the flip side, more teens are obese and not getting enough sleep.

However, the most troubling new data shows that more than 40% of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.

"We're encouraged to see that high school students are making better choices in some areas, like smoking, fighting, and alcohol use," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD.

However, other areas are concerning, he said, including the amount of time students spend glued to a screen instead of being active and a relatively new worry -- texting or emailing while driving.

Two in five of the 64% of students who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey also said they had been texting or emailing while behind the wheel, according to Stephanie Zaza, MD, director of the agency's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

"This puts them and other drivers at risk," she said.

On the whole though, there’s been really good progress made in teenager’s safety and health.

“I think it's really encouraging that we're seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” Frieden told NBC News.

While smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death in the United States — it causes heart disease, cancer and lung disease — teenagers face a more immediate risk. The single biggest killer of teens is motor vehicle crashes, causing 23% of deaths among 10 to 24-year-olds, CDC says.

Frieden believes that there’s a reason teens are buckling up more, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.

“These positive trends didn't just happen. They're the result of hard work in communities all over the country — doing things like protecting kids from secondhand smoke, passing laws that are graduated driving laws so that kids don't drink and drive,” he said.

On the texting front, older teen drivers may do it more often. CDC found that 58% of high school seniors admitted to texting while driving.

Another positive statistic is that fewer teens are having sex. Unfortunately this good news is tempered with a down side. Teen sex is decreasing but so is condom use.

Just over a third of teenagers are currently sexually active.

Teens should use condoms even if they are also using other contraception, Frieden said. Pregnancy is a big worry, but STDs are even more likely, and Frieden fears "there may be a sense that, well, there's treatment for HIV so it's not such a terrible problem.”

There may be treatments for HIV but there’s no cure. People must take pills every single day for life and the virus can develop resistance to those medications.

The other long-term risks to health are poor diet and a lack of exercise. Teens are trying, but not reaching targets there, the survey indicates.

Results of this survey show that teens are making progress in some important safety and health related areas and, like most of us, need work in others. The fact that fewer teens are smoking is very good news. The increase in texting while driving is very troubling but not surprising considering that adults are doing the same thing.

Many of the safety and health issues teens are experiencing are not much different from what adults are doing and that’s where parents and guardians can make a big difference. Kids are much more likely to control their own behavior better when they see their parents doing the same.

Sources: Maggie Fox, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/teen-smoking-sex-hit-new-lows-texting-fat-are-new-n129541

Your Teen

E-Cigarette Use Among Teens Triples in One Year

2:00

Marketing for e-cigarette use among teens and middle school students seems to be paying off.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, says that nearly 2.5 million middle and teen high school students are choosing to “vape.” That number represents a tripling of students using e-cigarettes from 2013 to 2014 according to the report.

E-cigarette popularity among teens has now surpassed all other tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, the reports notes.

Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the CDC, calls the increase in teen and middle school student e-cigarette use “deeply alarming.”

"We're seeing a striking increase. It's very concerning," Frieden said during a media briefing. "It more than counterbalances the decrease in cigarette smoking which we've seen over the last few years."

Many proponents of e-cigarettes say they are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes because they do not include many of the harsh ingredients that have been shown to cause lung cancer such as tar and cigarette paper chemicals.

However, they do include nicotine, which has its own set of side effects.

The brains of pre-teens and teenagers are still in a state of growth and development.  Addiction is a primary concern as well as the long-term effects nicotine can have on the developing brain.

According to Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, a monthly online journal with contributions from scientists and physicians, nicotine can have long-reaching side effects:

•       Teens do not have the brain development or emotional maturity to realize that their nicotine use impacts their health or to acknowledge the effects of nicotine dependence, and often overestimate their ability to quit whenever they choose.

•       Because teenagers' brains are still developing, their brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine, which can in turn impair them for life. Specifically, the prefrontal cortex area of the brain is affected. Teen's developing brains are particularly sensitive and experience more of a rush from nicotine than older adults and become dependent upon it more quickly.

•       With long-term use, nicotine can damage the areas of memory, cognition, and emotions that can last indefinitely through their adult lives.

This means that teens who are regular users of nicotine are at higher risk for cognitive reasoning impairment, attention deficits, and developing mental disorders such as depression, phobias, addictions, and antisocial personality.

The new CDC survey, shows e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.

Among middle school students, e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students.

Hookahs also have grown in popularity, the CDC found. Hookah smoking roughly doubled for teens, rising from about 890,000 middle and high school students in 2013 to nearly 1.6 million in 2014.

Health experts agree that more research is needed to look into the long-term effects of the chemicals used to create the vapor in e-cigarettes.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is considering regulating e-cigarettes as they do traditional tobacco products.

It may or may not be a coincidence that both marketing for e-cigarettes and teen use of e-cigarettes has tripled. Companies can advertise e-cigarettes on TV, even though commercials for cigarettes were banned in 1971. 

According to a study published last November in the journal Pediatrics, E-cigarette commercials increased 256 percent between 2011 and 2013, and more than three-fourths of teens' exposure to e-cigarette ads happened on cable channels. AMC aired the most, followed by Country Music Television and Comedy Central.

These ads are not designed to encourage teens to stop smoking, but instead to start vaping.

Should e-cigarettes regulation comes under the control of the FDA, advertising on TV most likely will stop. But by then it may be too little, too late.

Sources: Dennis Thompson, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/tobacco-and-kids-health-news-662/e-cigarette-use-triples-among-u-s-teens-in-1-year-698513.html

Kirsten Schuder, http://addiction.lovetoknow.com/smoking/effects-e-cigarettes-teenagers

Julia Glum, http://www.ibtimes.com/teens-smoking-e-cigarettes-marketing-may-be-blame-increase-number-vaping-high-school-1724105

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.