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Your Child

Pot-Laced Sweets Can Poison A Child

1:45

Marijuana is legal for recreational and/ or medicinal use in over half of the U.S., plus many states have decriminalized possession for small amounts.

Cupcakes, brownies and candies are a tempting alternative to smoking pot for many people. These kinds of sweets can be irresistible to kids -- but eating even one treat might poison them, a leading group of U.S. pediatricians warns.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents must take steps to keep these potential temptations away from their children.

Today’s marijuana isn’t your parents’ pot any longer. These days, a typical ounce of pot contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

If a child eats even one of these edibles it can cause overdose effects such as intoxication, altered perception, anxiety, panic, paranoia and heart problems, according to a news release from the doctors' group.

The AAP recommends treating marijuana (in any form) like you would any medication or drug you keep in your home if you have a child.

  • If you have marijuana edibles in your home, store them as you would medications and other potentially toxic products. Keep them in out-of-reach or locked locations, in child-resistant packaging or containers. Clearly label marijuana edibles, and store them in their original packaging.
  • Never consume marijuana edibles in front of children, either for medical or recreational purposes. Seeing adults consume the products can tempt kids, and using them may impair your ability to provide a safe environment for children.
  • Immediately after using them, put marijuana edibles back into the child-resistant packaging and an out-of-reach location.
  • Ask family members, friends, caregivers and anyone else whose homes your children spend time in if they use marijuana edibles. If so, make sure they follow these guidelines while watching your children.
  • If a child accidentally consumes a marijuana edible, call the free poison control hotline -- 1-800-222-1222 -- as soon as possible. If symptoms seem severe, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away.
  • Talk to older children and teens about edible pot products. Explain the risks to their health and remind them to never drive under the influence of marijuana, or ride in a car with a driver who is under the influence of the drug.

In the last decade, marijuana has grown in acceptance and many are taking advantage of relaxed or reversed laws. It has helped patients through chemotherapy, severe pain, PTSD, and in some instances - helps to control seizures.

It’s still a drug though and can have severe consequences for children that manage to ingest it without a doctor’s oversight.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20170317/pot-laced-goodies-can-poison-a-child

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Cigarettes Down, Pot Use Up

2:00

New statistics reveal that the number of American teenagers that smoke cigarettes has dropped by 64 percent in recent years. The same report also shows that the number of teens who are smoking pot has doubled.

Unfortunately, just because the percentage of kids who smoke cigarettes has dropped considerably, plenty are still lighting up. A full 30 percent of white, black and Hispanic teens smoked cigarettes, cigars or marijuana in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. The researchers tracked teen smoking rates from 1997 to 2013.

"The nation's remarkable progress in reducing youth smoking since 1997 is great news, but the battle is far from over," said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened," Willmore added.

Researchers called for more targeted prevention programs and policies to get the word to adolescents out on the dangers of smoking.

Overall, the number of teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars dropped from 20.5 percent to slightly more than 7 percent, while marijuana use went from 4 percent to 10 percent, the report found.

Notably, marijuana use jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent among those teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars, the findings showed.

Marijuana use has increased as states make it either legal or more acceptable with reduced penalties.

Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, believes that more acceptance of marijuana as a harmless drug is driving its increased use among teens.

"Over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a change in public perception of marijuana," he said. "There is the idea that marijuana is not something you need to worry about."

Marijuana use in teens hasn’t been researched much over the years, because it’s been illegal. Marijuana studies in adults have been going on for some time and especially during the last couple of decades. Health concerns about pot use and teens are beginning to emerge.

McAfee noted there is research showing that pot has a negative effect on developing brains and that some kids can become dependent on it.

“Nothing is being done” McAfee said, in terms of a tobacco-like campaign telling kids not to use marijuana or with information about the possible side effects.

The report was published in the October edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2014, a study was released looking at the research done over the past 20 years on marijuana use, highlighting the drug’s adverse effects, both acute and chronic.

The study maps out exactly what marijuana does and does not do to the body and brain, both in the short and long terms. What’s clear is that marijuana has a number of adverse effects over years of use – in certain people, anyway. What’s not so clear is how policy should be informed by the science.

The acute effects show that driving while high on marijuana does seem to double the risk of a car crash, which is of course heightened if there is also alcohol in the system. Marijuana has been linked to low birth weight when it is used during pregnancy.

Otherwise, acute effects mainly include anxiety, paranoia (especially among new users), dysphoria, cognitive impairment, and psychotic symptoms (especially in people with a family history of psychosis).

Many of these particular side effects seem to have risen over the last 20 years, which may be due to the fact that the THC content in marijuana has also risen over that time.

THC is the chemical in marijuana that is most responsible for the drug’s psychological effects.

The chronic or long-term effects are much more troubling than the acute.

As in the case of nearly all-scientific studies, causation is difficult to prove – but a correlation is evident.

Here’s what the study by Wayne Hall, Director and Inaugural Chair at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at The University of Queensland, Australia, reveals.

  • Marijuana can be addictive. But only for some people. About 10% of all users seem to develop dependence syndrome, and for those who start in adolescence, the number is more like 1 in 6. Withdrawal syndrome is also a real phenomenon, with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and appetite disturbance being the main symptoms, which can often be severe enough to have an effect on daily life.
  • Marijuana use is linked to adverse cognitive effects. In particular, the drug is linked to reduced learning, memory, and attention. It hasn’t been entirely clear whether these effects persist after a person stops using the drug, but there’s some evidence that it does. One study found a reduction in IQ of 8 points in long-time users, the greatest decline being in people who’d started using as teenagers and continued daily into adulthood. For people who began in adulthood and eventually stopped using, a reduction in IQ was not seen a year later.
  • Marijuana may change brain structure and function.  There’s been an ongoing debate about whether marijuana actually changes the brain, but recent evidence has suggested that it is linked to changes in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. It’s unclear, however, how long these effects last, whether they’re linked to behavioral changes, and whether they reverse after a person stops using the drug.
  • Regular use is linked to an increased risk of psychotic symptoms. That marijuana is linked to increased psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking) is fairly clear. But again, it’s been a chicken-and-egg problem, since it’s hard to show whether causation is at play, and which way the connection goes. However, it’s likely that the relationship actually goes both ways: Marijuana may lead to  psychotic symptoms, and early psychotic symptoms may  increase the likelihood that a person will smoke marijuana (particularly if there’s a family history of psychotic disorders).
  • Marijuana is linked to lower educational attainment. When pot smoking begins in adolescence, people tend to go less far in school – but again, a causal relationship hasn’t been demonstrated.
  •  Marijuana  may (or may not be) be a gateway drug. Regular teenage marijuana users are more likely to use other drugs in the future – but again, researchers don’t know whether the link is causal.
  • Marijuana is probably – but modestly – linked to schizophrenia. The study found that marijuana is connected to a doubled risk of a schizophrenia diagnosis in the future. Many previous studies have suggested this connection, but, as always, showing causality is hard. The new study cites a number of well-executed studies that suggest a causal relationship between marijuana and schizophrenia. The authors estimate that marijuana use may double the risk of schizophrenia from 7 in 1000 non-users to 14 in 1000 marijuana users. On the upside, they point out that users who quit using the drug after a first psychotic episode have fewer psychotic symptoms and better social functioning moving forward, compared to people who have a psychotic episode but continue using.
  • Marijuana may be linked to testicular cancer. Its connection to other forms of cancer is not very consistent, but there’s some evidence of an increased risk of testicular cancer in long-term marijuana users.
  • Regular users may have cardiopulmonary issues. Regular marijuana users have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis. Marijuana “probably” increases the risk of heart attack in middle age, but it’s hard to know for sure, since many users also smoke cigarettes.

The authors of this particular study were careful not to argue for or against the legalization of marijuana except to say that its legalization should be done with safeties in place.

This 2014 study was published in the journal Addiction.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/marijuana-news-759/fewer-teens-smoking-cigarettes-but-twice-as-many-now-smoke-pot-cdc-704275.html

Alice G. Walton, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/10/07/what-20-years-of-research-has-taught-us-about-the-chronic-effects-of-marijuana/

 

 

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

AAP Updates Position on Marijuana Legalization

1:30

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out in favor of keeping marijuana illegal, but decriminalizing its use.

The AAP says the penalties for being caught with the weed should be reduced because a criminal record can have a lasting impact on someone’s life making it harder to get a job, apply for loans for education and even finding housing.

Decriminalization of marijuana “takes this whole issue out of the criminal justice system and puts it into the health system, where it really should be,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, the statement’s lead author from Stanford University in California.

While some people feel that marijuana is as benign as alcohol use, Ammerman says that argument isn’t persuasive, especially when applied to adolescents and young adults.

“It’s not benign for youth,” he said. “It may be benign for adults, but the Academy feels strongly that alcohol is not benign for youths either.”

The statement goes on to state that the negative effects of marijuana on teens are well documented including impaired short-term memory and decreased concentration and problem solving.

Because the drug can affect motor control skills, its use may also contribute to deaths and traffic accidents or injuries.

Another concern is whether smoking pot may affect brain development in younger people.

“There has been some interesting brain development research that shows the brain continues to develop into the mid-20s, and there is some research in regular to heavy users that their brain development is not normal,” Ammerman said.

The Academy also opposes the legalization of marijuana for medical uses that haven’t been evaluated through proper regulatory channels, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 “These cannabinoids can have therapeutic value, but there have been no studies in children or adolescents.” Ammerman noted.

The Academy does make an exception though "for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate."

While some medical marijuana advocates said they were pleased with the updated AAP policy, they felt that it was a weak effort.

Source: Andrew W. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/26/us-legal-marijuana-pediatricians-idUSKBN0KZ0AK20150126

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New study reveals how much sleep kids really need.

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