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

Kids Injured, Dying From Dangerous Stunts

2.30 to read

Millions of people watch YouTube and other social media videos. There’s everything from music to medical procedures, comedy clips and cooking shows – you name it and there’s a video for it.

There are also videos showing teens and pre-teens choking each other and beating each other to a bloody pulp. These are videos that encourage dangerous and sometimes deadly games. It appears the more outrageous you can be, the bigger audience you’ll have.  Unfortunately a lot of kids end up in emergency rooms or worse, dead.

Last week a 15-year-old boy died while copying a YouTube video he and his friends had seen. While standing, he passed out, and fell forward crashing into an empty drinking glass. His collarbone broke the glass and a shard sliced through his interior and exterior jugular vein. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. It’s called the choking game.

The asphyxiation-to- get-high videos are popular with young adults, teens and even preteens.

Other popular “games” include jumping off a moving vehicle, salt and ice, extreme fighting, the cinnamon challenge and hitting someone over the head with a folding chair.

Dr. Thomas Abramo, the chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he sees all of it in his ER. Although teens have acted on risky behavior fads throughout his 30-year career, he said he's seeing trends catch on faster than ever before, and he thinks it's because of YouTube and social media.

"If you get one kid doing it, you tend to see more kids doing it," said Abramo, who said two of his patients have died playing the choking game. "The spread of the event is definitely faster."

One challenge that scares Abramo involves being hit on the head with a bench or a folding chair to "see if you can take it," he said. A lot of the time, they can't.

"Fractures, concussions, lacerations," Abramo said. "Just the things you would think would happen."

"Once you see some of these videos, you go, 'Oh my God,'" the doctor said. The "Darwin award" videos, which involve varying dangerous challenges, are the worst he's seen. "Survival of the stupidest. I can't believe it happens. It defies logic," Abramo said.

 YouTube says its guidelines prohibit videos that encourage dangerous behaviors, but they depend on viewers to flag objectionable posts before they are removed.

"We count on our users to flag content they believe violates the rules," a YouTube spokesman said. "We review flagged videos around the clock and remove all those that violate our policies."

That policy doesn’t seem to be working very well because there are plenty of these videos to watch.

Dr. Alan Hilfer, a child psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center, said he thinks the existing videos validate risky behavior for teens and give them a way to get notoriety if they post a video. He said he hears a lot about YouTube's amateur ultimate fighting videos, which show teen fights with are no rules -- just bare knuckles.

Videos of kids self-mutilating and encouraging eating disorders are also being posted on social media sites.

However, Dr. Carol Bernstein, a psychiatry professor at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said she doesn't think YouTube alone is to blame for teens engaging in challenges that could seriously injure them because many factors are involved. She said other environmental factors, physiology, and temperament contribute to a child's decision to emulate a video.

"Stress here should be on knowing our children, watching behaviors and having conversations with them," Bernstein said. "There's no substitute for parents and teachers who are engaging with their kids in general."

Many parents don’t know that their kids are acting out these videos until their child is injured. But not all parents are unaware.  A mother in St. Louis was arrested after posting a video of her young children beating each other.  You could hear her egging them on in the background. Fortunately she’s the exception rather than the rule.

Most parents are concerned about their kids doing drugs or drinking alcohol but they should add dangerous games to the list of topics to talk to their kids about.

"Adolescence is, developmentally, a time when young people experiment with cigarettes and other behaviors that aren't so smart for their health," says John Santelli, MD, MPH, president of the American Society of Adolescent Health and a Columbia University pediatrics professor. "Some of the consequences can be pretty tragic with these dangerous games."

Webmd.com provides a list of the “7 Dangerous Games Parents Must Know About” as well as tips for how parents can approach their kids about the subject.

Keep the lines of communication open and talk to your child about what videos he or she and their friends are watching. Ask them what they like about the videos to get a feel for what excites them.    

Experts suggest that you know what websites your kids are viewing and discuss stories that feature kids who have gotten hurt carrying out these types of games. Ask them what they think about this kind of behavior and listen carefully to what they say. Their answers may surprise you.

Make it a point to learn about these dangerous games. You can’t protect your child from everything that our high-tech society is throwing at them, but understanding what is going on in their teen and pre-teen world can help you be aware of what may be trying to influence them. That’s a start.

Sources: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dangerous-stunts-youtube-hurting-killing-teens/story?id=17342485#.UGZxZbQuqcN

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/dangerous-games-parents-must-know-about

Your Teen

Acne Gel Linked to Rare Side Effect

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Nearly all teens will get acne at one time or another. For those that get severe acne, it can be devastating to their self-esteem. While acne isn’t a serious health problem, it’s not something that is easy to hide.

For a lot of teens, over-the–counter face washes and drying agents help keep acne under control. For more serious acne, families often turn to a dermatologist for prescription medicine.

In certain people, Aczone- the skin gel version of the drug Dapzone -may lead to a rare blood disorder called methemoglobinemia according to a new study.

That’s what a 19 year-old female in Pittsburgh was using to treat her acne before she entered the emergency room with a headache, shortness of breath, and blue lips and fingers. At first, her doctors were at a loss as to what was causing her condition.

The patient had been using a “pea-size” amount of Aczone on her face twice daily during the previous week and didn’t think to tell the doctors about it when questioned about any medications she was taking.

"We went over all her meds and herbal supplements," said Dr. Greg Swartzentruber, a medical toxicology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "And we couldn't come up with a cause, even after interviewing her and her family. Aczone was just never mentioned."

Topical medicines can have systemic adverse effects on people, but many patients don’t think about topical creams or gels when asked about medications they are on by their doctor.

The study authors noted that prior research has shown that Dapsone pills, in very rare instances, can trigger methemoglobinemia, the abnormal production of a red blood cell protein that delivers oxygen throughout the body.

But the current case appears to be the first time that this condition has been associated with Aczone, the skin gel version of Dapsone, they said.

Dapzone pills have been available for decades and were once used to treat leprosy. In 2005, the FDA approved Aczone - the 5 percent topical cream – for acne treatment use. Dapzone and Aczone have been very effective for treating acne.

However, if someone has the rare genetic defect that makes it impossible to properly metabolize the drugs, it can cause serious health problems.

"The blood cells blow up, basically," said Dr. Darrell Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology with New York University Medical Center in New York City. Rigel added. "The prevalence of this deficiency is very low. Maybe it affects less than 1 percent of the population, but those that have it can end up with serious problems."

Doctors were finally able to diagnose the young woman’s illness through a urine test. She was successfully treated and released from the hospital after two days.

Rigel noted that dermatologists who prescribe Aczone have a responsibility to always screen patients for this issue. "And patients have to know that when they're asked to give their drug history they can't forget their topicals," he said.

The young woman’s case was described in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/news/20150129/acne-gel-linked-to-rare-side-effect-doctors-warn

Your Teen

Sunburn Warnings for Kids and Teens

1.45 to read

It is well known that sun exposure raises the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) occur most frequently — more than 1 million cases are diagnosed yearly. Most develop in older adults, but the incidence is rising in younger people. These cancers are highly curable if found early and removed; nonetheless, about 2,000 people die of these tumors each year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).Now more than ever, we encourage children to engage in outdoor physical activity. Being outside without adequate sun protection, however, often leads to sunburn and increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

In the March issue of Pediatrics, an AAP technical report and policy statement updates information about the hazards of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and highlight the dangers of tanning salons. Skin cancer rates rising It is well known that sun exposure raises the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) occur most frequently — more than 1 million cases are diagnosed yearly. Most develop in older adults, but the incidence is rising in younger people. These cancers are highly curable if found early and removed; nonetheless, about 2,000 people die of these tumors each year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, occurs mostly in older adults but also is a common cancer in young adults. New diagnoses of melanoma are increasing rapidly, and many skin cancer experts say that melanoma incidence has reached epidemic proportions. The lifetime risk of developing melanoma is about 2% (1 in 50) for white people, 0.5% (1 in 200) for Hispanics and 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for blacks. People at highest risk have light skin and eyes and sunburn easily. Melanoma accounts for only 5% of skin cancer cases but causes more than three-quarters of skin cancer deaths. Although nearly always curable if detected early, metastases melanoma has a grave prognosis. ACS estimated that there were 68,130 new cases and about 8,700 people died of melanoma in 2010. What increases risk? Young people who experience one or more severe, blistering sunburns have a higher risk of developing melanoma later on. Intense intermit- tent sun exposure also raises the risk of developing BCC. In contrast, developing SCC is related to experiencing lower levels of UVR exposure over longer time periods. Each day, more than 1 million people visit one of 50,000 U.S. tanning salons. Teen girls are frequent visitors. Powerful tanning lamps emit high levels of UVR, primarily ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, but also some ultraviolet B (UVB). According to recent evidence, a tanning response means that DNA damage has occurred in skin. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that UVR from artificial sources is a human carcinogen. Many experts believe that dramatic increases in skin cancer, including in young people, may be due in part to increasing use of tanning salons. There is no evidence to suggest a protective effect of salon tanning (the “pre-vacation tan”) against the damaging effects of subsequent sun expo- sure. Advice for families Limiting exposure to UVR can prevent many cases of skin cancer. A program of sun protection is recommended. Children and families should avoid sunburn and sun tanning, wear protective clothing and hats with brims, and apply sunscreen. When feasible, plan outdoor activities to limit exposure to peak-intensity midday sun (10a.m.- 4 p.m.) Sunglasses should be worn when in the sun. Protection comes from a chemical coating applied to the glass; lens color has nothing to do with UV protection. Parents and teens should look for a label stating that sunglasses block at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Correctly using sunscreen can prevent sunburn and is believed to protect against SCC. Using sun- screen has not, however, been shown to prevent melanoma or BCC. In addition, concerns have been raised about systemic absorption of sunscreen. Oxybenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient, was found in 97% of 2,500 urine samples analyzed as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 2003- ’04. Results from studies in animals exposed to certain sunscreen ingredients have shown alterations in reproductive and other organs. Sunscreen ingredients have been detected in breast milk. Although toxicity in infants or young children resulting from sunscreen absorption has not been reported, skin permeability to topically applied products is of concern in the very young, especially in preterm infants. Absorptive and other properties of children’s skin may differ from those of adult skin until children are at least 2 years old. Despite these new concerns, using sunscreen is recommended as part of overall sun protection by the Academy and many other organizations. Overexposure to the sun definitely raises skin cancer risk, and there is no benefit to sunburns or to skin aging. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher should be used when a person might sunburn. It should be allowed to dry before a person goes outdoors. To be most effective, use sufficient quantities of sunscreen (about 1 ounce per application for an adult); apply it every two hours; and reapply the product frequently after swimming, exercising, sweating or towel drying. Select a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. Skin cancer prevention is a lifelong effort. Although time is at a premium for most pediatricians, an important aim is to incorporate advice into at least one health maintenance visit per year, beginning in infancy. Not all children sunburn, but all are at risk of adverse effects of UVR exposure on the eyes and immune system. Teachable moments may be found during visits for sunburns or when a teenager is noted to have a tan.

Your Teen

Helping Your Teen Get Over a Breakup

2.30 to read

Most of us can remember how painfully sad we felt after our first breakup. Sometimes we were told that we were too young to know what real love was, or that it was just puppy love and we’d get over it, or you might have heard the ever popular “there’s more than one fish in the sea. “

I remember my first heartbreak. I was about 14 and the love of my life moved to Alaska. Alaska!!!

I cried for days and felt like the pain would never end. Eventually my heartbreak subsided and I moved on. My mother was very understanding – she liked my boyfriend too. She didn’t tell me to get over it or to try and forget about him. She just listened, held me in her arms and let me know that yes, this was going to be hard but I was going to get through it.  

I don’t think things have changed that much since my first breakup. It still hurts and is difficult to get over. When you’re a pre-teen, teenager or young adult you just don’t have the life experience to know that these things happen to everyone and you can and will get through it.

What can parents do to help their child deal with a breakup? Experts say the number one action parents can take is to listen. Sometimes things happen that a teen doesn’t have any control over – like the family is transferred and has to move away. Most times I suspect the two personalities just didn't work well together.

While it may be tempting, bringing up all the “bad traits” of the one who is gone won’t help. It’s not your break-up; it’s your child’s. You may be thrilled that the boyfriend or girlfriend is out of the picture, but it doesn’t matter. There is always the possibility that they may get back together so don’t say anything that you can’t take back.

Your child is dealing with emotions that they may not be familiar with. What they need now is unconditional love and someone to talk to who will listen and respect how they feel. If you’re not available they will put their heart in the hands of friends, and sometimes friends think the best way to get over anything is to either party hardy, act out or blast someone on social media.

Not all friends respond that way of course. Many teens are thoughtful and supportive and will make every effort to help their friend feel better about the situation. But a parent or guardian should be the true touchstone for their heartbroken teen.

You can help your child identify their feelings and find constructive ways to express them. Humiliation, anger, and sadness are strong emotions. Even as adults we still have trouble keeping those in check. So imagine how hard it is for an adolescent.

This is one of those crossroads that many of us have faced and so it’s difficult, as parents, to not try to make everything better. The hardest thing to do is to let your child work something out for him or her self when pain and heartache are involved. But sometimes you have to not take a stand and just be supportive. Let them cry and mourn – give them the time they need. As they begin to adjust make sure they have something positive to do, something that helps them build the self-confidence they need to move on. It may be time to reconnect with old friends, develop a hobby, get involved in sports or the arts or both. The good thing about physical activity is that it releases helpful hormones, such as endorphins, and requires attention and focus – a positive way to take their mind off of the breakup.

While it’s good to let your teen make important decisions in his or her life, there is a time when parents have to step in. If your child is or was involved with someone where physical or emotional abuse, or drug or alcohol use is part of the scenario. That’s a situation that requires taking a stand and possibly family counseling.

You also need to keep an eye out for depression that doesn’t go away. Some depression is normal when a person  loses a loved one (or a really- really liked one) in their life. But too deep a depression can be dangerous. Some symptoms of teen depression are loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, feelings of worthlessness, guilt or fixation on past failures, exaggerated self- blame and self-criticism. Other symptoms can include trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things. Any discussions about death, dying or suicide should be taken seriously. Go with your gut feeling and make a doctor’s appointment right away for your child to get help.

Something else to consider is that breakups aren’t limited to romantic relationships. Young girls and boys can feel a deep loss when they lose their BFF (best friend forever.) They need the same kind of support and understanding. A loss is still a loss.

Most of all maintain a positive attitude. Your teen and his or her friend may makeup and get back together or they may move on and learn the hard truth about breakups. They hurt. Either way, they’ll join a long list of others who’ve been there and done that. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to hold them in your arms, let them cry and then let them know that they will eventually laugh and smile again.

Your Teen

E-cigarette Ads Successfully Targeting Adolescents

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Nicotine is addictive and one of the hardest drugs to kick. That’s one of the reasons that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) is suggesting tighter controls on e-cigarette sales to minors.

"The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

E-cigarette companies are revisiting the same themes that helped hook older generations on cigarettes and it’s working. Ads are focusing on sex, independence and rebellion to lure youngsters into trying e-cigarettes along with the notion that e-cigarettes are not harmful like regular cigarettes.

The marketing strategy could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth, warned the CDC that suggested tighter controls on e-cigarette sales to reduce minors' access.

The CDC's National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 68.9 percent of middle- and high-school students saw e-cigarette ads from one or more media sources in 2014, most commonly in stores but also online, on television and in movies or magazines.

E-cigarette use among this age group soared over the past five years, surpassing its use of regular cigarettes in 2014, according to CDC statistics. Spending on e-cigarette advertising also jumped, increasing to an estimated $115 million in 2014 from $6.4 million in 2011.

The science is still out on whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. It sometimes takes years for reliable long-term effects. However, there is plenty of evidence that nicotine addiction is not good for you.

"Youth use of tobacco in any form (combustible, noncombustible or electronic) is unsafe," the CDC study said.

Exposure to tobacco at a young age may cause addiction and lasting harm to brain development, the agency reported.

Most states have passed laws banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposal to regulate the products is under federal review.

The next move may be proposing regulation on e-cigarette advertising geared at adolescents.

Source: Barbara Liston,  http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-ecigarettes-idUSL1N14P13P20160105

 

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

More Teens Fall Victim to Dating Violence

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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

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

2.00 to read

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

Painkillers May be Gateway to Heroin Use in Teens

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Heroin use is increasing among U.S. adults and adolescents at an alarming rate.  The reason appears to be linked to the high cost of prescription painkillers, their addictive properties, as well as tough laws established for prescribing and purchasing opioids. Heroin is easy to get and much cheaper and it is becoming a huge problem not only for adults but teens as well.

Three-quarters of U.S. high school students who use heroin first tried narcotic painkillers, a new survey reveals.

Survey results from nearly 68,000 high school seniors provide some clues to heroin's recent deadly path from the inner city into affluent suburbs and rural communities.

"The more times a teen uses non-prescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug," said lead researcher Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at New York University.

"People who become dependent on painkiller pills often wind up resorting to heroin use because it's cheaper and more available than these pills," Palamar explained.

Researchers say that white students appear more likely than black or Hispanic students to start with painkillers and then move on to heroin.

Recent and frequent nonmedical painkiller use increased the odds that kids had tried heroin: More than 77 percent of teens who reported using heroin had also used narcotic painkillers, also called opioids, Palamar said.

And almost one-quarter of kids who said they'd taken narcotic painkillers more than 40 times also reported heroin use.

Palamar believes updating drug education programs will help. But kids need to get the message that these drugs put them at risk for addiction and overdose death, he said.

"The biggest problem is that many teens don't trust drug education in schools or information provided by the government," Palamar said.

Adolescents are particularly difficult to persuade that drug use can get out of control quickly. For decades, the government has taught that marijuana is just as dangerous as heroin.  Many Americans now believe that marijuana use is not dangerous and four states have legalized recreational use with others considering it.

Palamar notes that narcotic painkillers present an especially complicated situation.

"Most other drugs are illegal in all contexts, yet these drugs -- the most dangerous drugs -- are prescribed by doctors and are often sitting there in parents' medicine cabinets," Palamar said. "If teens don't believe warnings about street drugs, then why would they be afraid to use government-approved, pharmaceutical-grade pills?"

Palamar's recommendation: "We need to educate our educators, and then we need to start giving more honest and accurate information to our teens because what we're doing now isn't working."

Drug education teachers are sometimes less informed than their students "who might have learned from experience or from friends who use," he said.

The study data came from the 2009-2013 Monitoring the Future surveys. These annual questionnaires assess the behaviors, attitudes and values of students in 130 public and private U.S. high schools.

The report appeared recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Source: Steve Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20151229/painkillers-often-gateway-to-heroin-for-us-teens-survey

 

 

 

 

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