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Your Teen

Energy Drinks

Just about every store you go into these days has a shelf of energy drinks, many of them marketed towards our teenage children. “Many are marketed as energy drinks but should be called stimulant drinks” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.”

Dr. Hubbard warns that too much caffeine in a teenager’s system can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness and upset stomachs. “It can also mess up a child’s sleep cycle, which is not good” she says. Dr. Hubbard recommends that parents read the labels of the drinks their children are consuming. She also recommends that if you need to hydrate your child during sports or other physical activity, give them water or a true sports drink, like Gatorade, and not energy drinks.

Your Teen

Concussions: Boys and Girls May Have Different Symptoms

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The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often.A new study of high school athletes, finds that boys and girls who suffer concussions, may differ in their symptoms. The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often. "The take-home message is that coaches, parents, athletic trainers, and physicians must be observant for all signs and symptoms of concussion, and should recognize that young male and female athletes may present with different symptoms," said R. Dawn Comstock, an author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. More than 60,000 brain injuries occur among high school athletes every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more males than females participate in sports, female athletes are more likely to suffer sports-related concussions, the researchers note. For instance, girls who play high school soccer suffer almost 40 percent more concussions than their male counterparts, according to NATA. The findings suggest that girls who suffer concussions might sometimes go undiagnosed since symptoms such as drowsiness or sensitivity to noise "may be overlooked on sideline assessments or they may be attributed to other conditions," Comstock said. For the study, Comstock and her co-authors at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, examined data from an Internet-based surveillance system for high school sports-related injuries. The researchers looked at concussions involved in interscholastic sports practice or competition in nine sports (boys' football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and baseball and girls' soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball) during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years at a representative sample of 100 high schools. During that time, 812 concussions (610 in boys and 202 in girls) were reported. During the first year of the study, the surveillance system included only the primary concussion symptom for each athlete. In the second year, high school athletic trainers were able to record all the symptoms reported by the concussed athlete. In both years, headache was the most commonly reported symptom and no difference was noted between the sexes. However, in year one, 13 percent of the males reported confusion/disorientation as their primary symptom versus 6 percent of the girls. Also in the first year, amnesia was the primary symptom of 9 percent of the males but only 3 percent of the females. In the second year, amnesia and confusion/disorientation continued to be more common among males than females. In addition, 31 percent of the concussed females complained of drowsiness versus 20 percent of the males, and 14 percent of the females said they were sensitive to noise, compared with just 5 percent of the males. Concussion researcher Gerard A. Gioia, chief of pediatric neuropsychology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., called the findings "relatively subtle" and "at best hypothesis-generating, meaning they are suggestive but in no way conclusive." Gioia said one of the study's limitations is that the reporting system didn't explain about how the injuries occurred. "The presence of increased amnesia and confusion, two early injury characteristics, in the males suggests that the injuries between the males and females may have been different," he said. Future studies will likely address this theory, said Comstock, now that the surveillance system has been expanded to include much more detailed information. Preliminary data suggest, for instance, that football players tend to get hit on the front of the head, while girls who play soccer or basketball often suffer a blow to the side of the head, she said. The findings will also be published in the January issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

Daily Dose

Heat & Your Young Athlete

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The heat is causing more kids to feel nausea and dizzy. If we have no school during bad weather, wouldn't 100+ temps be considered bad weather to play sports?I just can’t keep quiet anymore, it is just too hot in much of the country to allow students to play football, band, cheerleading, cross country or any other activity that requires being outdoors.

I have already seen more than a handful of my own patients who have come in complainting of fainting, nausea, and fatigue. Despite the fact that most of these adolescents are “in good shape”, no one is ready for this kind of heat. The actual temps are over 105 degrees, and the heat index is actually even higher!!  The news (both on air, on line and in print) proclaims “Dangerous Heat” while they talk about watching out for our neighbors, our pets and the elderly. What about our children?? This is crazy!!  Are we all willing to risk a life (there have already been deaths reported), just for the sake of sports and the rules that allow students to begin practice 3 weeks prior to school starting. Rather, the rules should state that if the heat is “dangerously high”, then all of these silly outside activities for students will be cancelled. Putting students on a field to exercise is equally as risky as putting students on buses during inclement weather. Schools cancel classes for bad weather and I think that this is BAD WEATHER!!  It is beyond bad, it is oppressive, unhealthy and has been and will be deadly. If administrators are not willing to make the call, then parents need to step up and speak out.  Tell the coaches that you are not allowing your children to participate until the heat stops. We are not talking professional sports (where most are playing in climate controlled stadiums too); these are students whose biggest job is going to school.  This is not the Olympics. These are extracurricular activities, which while important, are not worth risking lives. The heat will stop, and activities can resume when it does. Until then, we need to head the warnings and do everything we can to prevent this heat from causing heat related illnesses and even deaths. Speak up! What do you think? I would love your thoughts!

Daily Dose

Concussions: A Life Lesson

A life lesson from a professional football player who knows first hand there's more to life than playing football.As you know, I have written many times and done numerous radio segments on the topic of concussions.  In the past several years there has been more attention paid to the risks of long term brain injury secondary to concussions and the medical literature continues to update guidelines for screening and treatment of concussions.

Many  professional sports organizations like the NFL, as well as college and undergraduate athletic organizations have also become aware of the risks of recurrent concussions and are adhering to guidelines to prevent players from returning to play without medical clearance. As a UT Longhorn fan/alumni, it was with concern and admiration that I read the story of  Tre Newton’s decision to retire from the UT team due to his history of repetitive concussions. The media reports out of Austin stated that, “Tre along with his parents and physicians” had decided that it was time to give up football to prevent further head injuries.  What a difficult and heartfelt decision that must have been!!!  His father, Nate Newton, had played for the Dallas Cowboys and Tre was a starting running back for UT. It is obvious that this is a “football family”. But, having watched as Tre suffered another concussion during a recent UT loss, and then reading the stories about his past history of concussions in the previous football season as well as during his high school days, it seems as if this young man took a good long look at the newest data on recurrent concussions and long term complications and knew it was time to end his football career. He is obviously not only an athlete, but also a scholar. I think that Tre Newton will be a role model to other talented young athletes who too may have had the unfortunate luck to have suffered concussions.  Sustaining a concussion whether in football, hockey, cheerleading, or any other sport is a risk that comes with contact sports. Some athletes seemed to be luckier than others. Despite the best efforts at developing new helmets, and mouth guards, the incidence of concussions is on the rise.  Children, teen and young adult athletes continue to report symptoms seen with a concussion, and we pediatricians are seeing this in our own offices.  I recently saw an 8 year old whose mother brought him in to be examined as she thought he might have a concussion. As you know, a concussion is not a structural injury, but rather a chemical and functional injury to the brain. It is somewhat analogous to a “bruise or sprain”, but involves the brain rather than a bone. Therefore the x-ray or scan of the head and brain will appear normal, but the neurological exam or the cognitive exam will be abnormal. This little boy did not remember the hit or being brought to the sideline, he was nauseated for a bit afterward. But…after my exam my recommendations, his mother did not want to “bench him” for the next week as he had a playoff football game and lacrosse try-outs. My question is “WHY”?  Why would you worry that your child might have a concussion, take him to the doctor, and then not follow the established guidelines for return to play. This just doesn’t make sense to me.  She also pointed out that her husband was the coach and had not heard of any information regarding concussions and rest, with gradual return to play. Hmmm. But, Tre Newton’s decision to retire from football makes a tremendous amount of sense. It also shows a great deal of maturity and intelligence. Tough decision, supported by loving parents who also knew “what was best for their son”.  I commend each of them and wish Tre good luck in whatever field he “plays” on post graduation. That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Why you need to make sure your kids are eating protein with their carbs.

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Why you need to make sure your kids are eating protein with their carbs.

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