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Your Teen

Teens: Does Non-Cigarette Tobacco Use Lead to Regular Cigarette Use?

2:45

Researchers followed 10,000 nonsmokers ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old for one year to see how their use of other tobacco products influenced the odds that they would become smokers.

Results showed that teens who tried non-cigarette products such as e-cigarettes, hookah pipes and other non-cigarette tobacco products are more likely to take up cigarette smoking than their peers who never sample these products.

By the end of the study year, about 5 percent had tried a cigarette and roughly 2 percent, had smoked within the past month, the study found. 

Among the small proportion of teens who had tried e-cigarettes at the start of the study, however, 19 percent had become smokers a year later, as had about 18 percent of hookah users.

“Each type of non-cigarette tobacco product we studied - whether e-cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco - independently contributed to smoking risk,” said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Chaffee of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. 

“These products have different properties, but in terms of predicting future smoking among kids, the risk seems to be the same,” Chaffee said by email to Reuters Health.

Vaping - a term for using e-cigarettes and similar devices - was the most popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. About 4 percent of teens had vaped at the start of the study, followed by 3 percent who had smoked a hookah, or water pipe, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics.

The non-cigarette alternatives examined in the study contain nicotine, an addictive and very difficult drug to quit. Many advocates for tobacco control fear that e-cigarettes will create a new generation of nicotine addicts who may eventually switch to conventional cigarettes.

Despite the large size of the study population, one limitation is the relatively small number of tobacco product users by year-end, particularly the 2 percent of youth who admitted sampling one or more of these items in the past month. This may have weakened some connections between cigarette smoking and other tobacco products, the authors note.

E-cigarettes and other non-cigarette products are – except for smokeless tobacco products -a relatively new phenomenon in tobacco and nicotine use. 

Researchers are beginning to focus on the health and social issues that may be associated with e-cigarettes and other non-cigarette alternatives use among teens, young adults and children. Many of the studies have found an association between these types of products and progressive use of regular cigarettes.

Health experts agree that parents should warn their children about the dangers of all types of tobacco products. Many include a notice to parents to also discuss the addictive nature of e-cigarettes and similar products with their kids.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-ecigs-smoking/use-of-non-cigarette-tobacco-products-tied-to-teen-smoking-idUSKBN1ET2DB

 

Your Child

Botox Injections for Young Migraine Sufferers?

1:45

Botox injections are typically thought of as beauty enhancers for adult men and women, but a small study in California, suggests that the injections may also help children find relief from migraines. 

The new findings are based on testing among just nine children, aged 8 to 17. Currently, Botox is only approved as an adult migraine treatment and research has shown that for some people, it’s been effective.

The new study may provide hope for a young migraine sufferer looking for an alternative treatment, since the one approved preventative medication, topiramate, is only available to adolescent patients.

"When children and teens have migraine pain, it can severely affect their lives and ability to function," said study author Dr. Shalini Shah, chief of the division of pain medicine at the University of California, Irvine, 

"They miss school, their grades suffer and they are left behind, often unable to reach their full potential," she added in an American Society of Anesthesiologists' news release. "Clearly, there is a need for an alternative treatment for those who haven't found relief.”

After the treatments with Botox, Shah noted, "we saw improvement in functional aspects in all of the children and teens. In fact, one patient was hospitalized monthly for her migraine pain prior to Botox treatment and was expected to be held back in school. After treatment, she only has one or two migraines a year, and is excelling in college."

Researchers said that before treatment, the participating patients experienced migraines between roughly eight and 30 times per month.

The kids and teens were given Botox shots to the front and back of the head and the neck every 12 weeks for five years. Once treated, the study volunteers had migraines between two and 10 times a month.

Researchers said the patients experienced less pain and the duration of the migraine attacks decreased. No severe side effects were reported and another study is already being launched.

Shah recently presented the findings at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Boston. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary if they haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Story source: Alan Mozes, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/botox-may-offer-new-hope-for-young-migraine-sufferers-727788.html

Your Teen

Stop Yelling at Your Teenager!

2.30 to read

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who has a child has yelled at him or her at one time or another. As parents, we’ve all lost our patience when we believe our child is misbehaving. If ever there is a time when parents and kids are standing at the crossroad of “Listen to me” and “I don’t need to”, it’s during the teenage years.

Tempers often ignite with harsh words being said.  

While you may be trying to make an important point, aggressive yelling and screaming only pushes your child away and may be doing much more harm than good according to a new study.

An analysis involving nearly 1,000 two-parent families and their adolescent children suggests that such harsh verbal lashings not only don't cut back on misbehavior, they actually promote it.

The end result: an uptick in the kind of adolescent rage, stubbornness and irritation that escalates rather than stops or prevents disobedience and conflict.

"Most parents who yell at their adolescent children wouldn't dream of physically punishing their teens," noted study author Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. "Yet, their use of harsh verbal discipline -- defined as shouting, cursing or using insults -- is just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents," he said.

"Our findings offer insight into why some parents feel that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers do not listen," Wang added. "Indeed, not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavior problems in youth, it actually appears to increase such behaviors."

Wang and his co-author, Sarah Kenny of the University of Michigan, report their findings in the current issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers were particularly interested in kids between 13 and 14 years old so they focused on 976 primarily middle-class families in Pennsylvania with young adolescent offspring, all of whom were already participating in a long-term study exploring family interaction and adolescent development. A little more than half the families were white, while 40 percent were black.

The teen participants were asked to disclose recent behavioral issues such as in-school disturbances, stealing, fighting, damaging property or lying to their parents.

Their parents were asked how often they used harsh verbal discipline such as yelling, screaming, swearing or cursing at their child. Most importantly, if they called their child names like “dumb” or “lazy.”

The teens were also asked to what degree they felt “warmth” in their relationship with their parents. Researchers inquired about the amount of parental love, emotional support, affection and care the kids felt like they received from their parents. Both teens and parental depression were tracked.

The study points out that the children who were on the receiving end of the harsh verbal attacks experienced an increase in anger and a drop in inhibitions. Those two reactions prompted an intensification of the very things that parents were hoping to stop – such as lying, cheating, stealing or fighting.

"Parents who wish to modify their teenage children's behavior would do better by communicating with them on an equal level," Wang said, "and explaining their rationale and worries to them. Parenting programs are in a good position to offer parents insight into how behaviors they may feel the need to resort to, such as shouting or yelling, are ineffective and or harmful, and to offer alternatives to such behaviors."

Parents get frustrated with their children and vice versa. None of us behave perfectly all the time. Raising your voice because you are frustrated is one thing, name calling and screaming is quite another.

Imagine if you were at work and your boss screamed at you, called you names and cursed at you because he or she didn’t like how you did something. That may have actually happened to you – remember how you felt, or think about how you would feel. Humiliated, angry and sad are the most common reactions people have.  

Children are trying to find their way in life; parents are their guides. The next time you feel you’re on the verge of screaming or saying hurtful things to your child - walk away. Give yourself time to cool down and find a better way to communicate.

People say kids are resilient and get over things quickly. Many are able to bounce back when bad things happen, but that saying is too often used to excuse bad behavior on a parent’s part. If you’ve crossed the line with your child, say you’re sorry and come up with better ways to handle your frustration and anger.

Words and tone matter and the best teaching method is by example. You can help your child learn what love, patience, tolerance, compassion and respect are by being an example of those very qualities.

Source: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/yelling-at-insulting-teens-can-backfire-on-parents-study-679863.html

Your Baby

Toxic Chemicals Found in Baby Foods

2:00

Most parents naturally assume that store-bought baby foods and formulas are well regulated and safe for their babies to consume. That may not be the case says a recent study released by the Clean Label Project. In fact, many of these products may contain high-levels of toxins, researchers said.

For the study, Clean Label Project, a non-profit which advocates for transparent labeling of products, looked at the top-selling formulas and baby food as well as emerging national brands based on Nielsen data. Of about 530 products that the researchers tested, 65 percent were found positive for arsenic, 58 percent for cadmium, 36 percent for lead, and 10 percent for acrylamide.

The highest toxin level found was arsenic. It is associated with cardiovascular conditions, developmental defects, diabetes, neurotoxicity, skin lesions, and even cancer, was present in nearly 80 percent of infant formulas. Rice-based baby food such as snack puffs, tend to have the highest levels of arsenic.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn't enforcing that limit. Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.

"It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food," said Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson.

BPA was also found, although many companies now advertise as PBA free. Sixty-percent were found positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A.

Lead, known for its’ devastating impact on children’s health, was found in 36 percent of the products. Low levels of lead in children's blood have been connected to lower IQs, slowed growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and anemia, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Gerber, Mead Johnson (Enfamil), Plum Organics all released statements following the study assuring customers their products adhere to strict safety standards. Gerber said its foods "meet or exceed U.S. government standards for quality and safety." Mead Johnson said it specifically monitors the presence of many materials, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, BPA and acrylamide to ensure "safety and high quality." Plum, who also stressed products are "completely safe," said over the past year, it's created "new, more robust guidelines for contaminants in our products" and is in the process of implementing those rules.

Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of Clean Label Project, said, "The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,"

The researchers found that mainstream brands, which include Enfamil, Gerber, Plum Organics, and Sprout, were among the worst offenders that scored two out of five in the report on toxic metals.

A more in-depth review of the study can be found on http://www.cleanlabelproject.org/product-ratings/infant-formula-baby-food/

Story sources: Ashley May, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/10/25/these-baby-foods-and-formulas-tested-positive-arsenic-lead-and-bpa-new-study/794291001/

Allan Adamson, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/214847/20171025/baby-food-and-infant-formulas-tested-positive-for-arsenic-lead-and-other-toxic-chemicals.htm

Your Teen

Mental Health Clues Found in Teen Brain Scans

1:30

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many ups and downs in your teenager’s moods- there’s a very good reason; their brain is still developing. Brain scans from a research team at the University of Cambridge identified the areas of the brain that change the most during the teen years. It’s no surprise that areas associated with complex thought and decision-making are the ones going through a growth spurt during this time.

The scientists also discovered a link between teenage brain development and mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

The team from Cambridge's department of psychiatry scanned the brains of 300 people between the ages of 14 and 24.

They found that basic functions such as vision, hearing and movement were fully developed by adolescence. However, complex thinking processes and decision-making were still in a growth stage.

These areas are nerve centers with lots of connections to and from other key areas.

You can think of the brain as a global airline network that's made up of small infrequently used airports and huge hubs like Heathrow where there is very high traffic.

The brain uses a similar set up to co-ordinate our thoughts and actions.

During adolescence, this network of big hubs is consolidated and strengthened. It's a bit like how Heathrow or JFK have become gradually busier over the years.

Researchers found that genes involved in the “hub” were similar to those associated with mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.

The discovery is in line with the observation that many mental disorders develop during adolescence, according to researcher Dr Kirstie Whitaker.

"We have shown a pathway from the biology of cells in the area through to how people who are in their late teenage years might then have their first episode of psychosis," she told the BBC.

Genetics are not the only reason for mental illnesses. Older studies have also linked stress during childhood and the teenage years as a possible contributor. Recent findings have shown an association between maltreatment, abuse and neglect and brain development during childhood and adolescence. In addition, these types of stressors may also contribute to the emergence of mental illness.

Lead researcher, Professor Ed Bullmore, whose work was funded by the Wellcome Trust, believes the discovery of a biological link between teenage brain development and the onset of mental illness might help researchers identify those most at risk of becoming ill.

"As we understand more about what puts people at risk for schizophrenia, that gives us an opportunity to try to identify individuals that are at risk of becoming schizophrenic in the foreseeable future, the next two to three years, and perhaps to offer some treatment then that could be helpful in preventing the onset of clinical symptoms. "

The study also sheds light on the mood and behavioral changes experienced by teenagers during normal brain development.

"The regions that are changing most are those associated with complex behavior and decision making," says Dr. Whitaker.

"It shows that teenagers are on a journey of becoming an adult and becoming someone who is able to pull together all these bits of information.

This is a really important stage to go through. You wouldn't want to be a child all your life.

This is a powerful and important stage that you have to go through to be the best and the most capable adult that you can be."

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Story source: Pallab Ghosh, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36887224

 

Daily Dose

Kids & Cellphones

1:30 to read

There is a new study out from the National Toxicology Program in which rats were exposed to radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years beginning in utero.  They compared these rats to those that were not exposed and interestingly some of the male rats developed tumors in their hearts and brains and the controls did not.

I am writing about this as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age and for not having a home phone. While it is too early to say if this study has any bearing on humans and obviously the exposure was heavier than normal, this may serve as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age. It may also help to bring “land lines” back into the home. 

Call me old school, but I continue to believe and counsel patients, having a home phone is still important.  Without a home phone how can you call your child when you are away and they may be home with a babysitter….and not depend on the caregivers cell phone?  I also think that some children may be ready to stay at home for 30 min to an hour at a time while their parents go to the store, or pick up a sibling from school etc. before they are ready for a cell phone. By having a home phone the child has a means of contacting their parents, neighbors or emergency personnel and don’t risk losing a cell phone or any of the other numerous issues associated with owning a cell phone.

A home phone also gives children an opportunity to learn how to answer a phone and begin “screening” phone calls for the family and to learn phone etiquette….which is not always taught when parents are answering the cell and handing it off to their child.  What about the days when we were taught to say “Hello, Hubbard residence” when answering the phone?  Or having your mother sit by your side while you called a friend’s house and started off the conversation with, “may I please speak to…Sally?”. Phone etiquette was such an important part of every child’s life.

Once your child does have a cell phone it also seems that they may spend more time isolated from the family when on the phone….and may spend longer amounts of time on the phone than when the phone was in the family kitchen. Even my grown children often go outside to take their cell phone call….wonder what they are talking about, me?  I digress….

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents should limit the use of cell phones by children and teens. A cell phone is not a toy and emits radiation.  Keeping this source of radiation away from our children for as long as possible seems prudent while more research continues…and this study just gives parents a bit more ammunition when their 6 year old starts off with, “everyone else has a cell phone…when can I have one?”.  

 

Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

Your Child

The Benefits of Being Bilingual

2.00 to read

Do children who speak more than one language score higher on cognitive tests? Yes, according to a new Canadian study. Researchers say that bilingual students develop a deeper understanding of the structure of language, an important skill in learning to read and write.

Cognitive tests study the mental processes that allow us to perform daily functions such as paying attention, solving problems, producing and understanding language appropriately and making decisions.

Does being bilingual make a child smarter? Not necessarily, but previous studies have shown that children who learn two languages from birth are able to concentrate on the meaning of words better than monolingual children and have an advantage in developing multi-tasking skills.

In the Canadian study, researchers compared 104 six-year olds to measure their cognitive development. Some children were English speaking only. Others were Chinese-English bilinguals, French-English bilinguals, and Spanish-English bilinguals.

The experiments investigated the effects of language similarity, cultural background and educational experience on verbal and non-verbal abilities.

The children did a battery of tests that measured verbal development and one non-verbal task that measured executive control, in this case, the ability to focus attention where necessary without being distracted and then shift attention when required. The bilingual children demonstrated a superior ability to switch tasks.

"The results endorse the conclusion that bilingualism itself is responsible for the increased levels of executive control previously reported," the study's authors wrote.

To acquire language, bilingualism where the languages are similar in origin may have slight advantages, the researchers found. For example, Spanish-English bilinguals outperformed Chinese-English bilinguals and monolinguals on a test of awareness of the sound structure of spoken English.

Dr. Ellen Bialystok, one of the world's foremost experts on bilingualism among children, led the group of researchers from York University in analyzing the effects of bilingualism. Summarizing the results, Dr. Bialystok commented, "Our research has shown that reading progress amongst all bilingual children is improved" over monolingual children. In a separate statement, she said, "I think there's a lot of worry out there about other languages conflicting with a child's ability to learn to read in English, but that's absolutely not the case. Parents should not hesitate to share their native tongue with their children—it's a gift."

Because bilingualism is often tied to other factors such as culture, socioeconomic status, immigration history and language, the researchers partly took those into account by enrolling participants who all attended public schools and came from similar socio-economic backgrounds.

During the study, the children learned to read in both languages at the same time. Dr. Bialystok and her team thought that the additional time spent learning two languages might give the children an advantage. But, results showed that the advantages garnered by the children were independent of the instruction time in the other language.

Researchers noted in the online issue of the journal Child Development that "People always ask if the languages themselves matter and now we can definitively say no," study co-author, Dr. Bialystok, said in a release.

Learning a second language teaches children more about their first language. They understand the intricacies of grammar and acquire an additional awareness of how language is used to express thoughts.

The Canadian study was published in the February 8th, online issue of the journal Child DevelopmentThe study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Sources: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/02/08/bilingual-children-brain....

http://www.early-advantage.com/articles/learningtoread.aspx

Your Child

Child’s Chronic Cough Could Mean Something More Serious

1:45

Children that continue to cough for weeks after an acute respiratory illness should be seen by their pediatrician and examined for the possibility of an underlying lung disease, according to a new study.

That’s one of the lessons from a Queensland, Australia, study of 839 children presenting to Emergency Room Departments with an acute respiratory illness.

The researchers found that 20 percent of the children still had a persistent cough when followed up 4 weeks later.

When those children were examined, 47 percent were diagnosed with protracted bacterial bronchitis.

When reviewed by a pulmonologist, 31% of the children with chronic cough were found to have an undiagnosed chronic lung disease, such as asthma, obstructive sleep apnea and bronchiectasis, a condition where the walls of the airway thicken as a result of chronic inflammation or infection.

The finding of high rates of chronic cough with an underlying disease shows the importance of making sure a child is examined early or has a follow up appointment if he or she continues coughing after a respiratory illness.

Lead author, Dr. Kerry-Ann O’Grady (PhD), an epidemiologist at the Centre for Children’s Health Research in Brisbane, said it was notable that one-third of the children with chronic cough, in the study, had wet cough — a key symptom of persistent lower airway bacterial infection.

If not treated promptly, the underlying conditions revealed in the reviews could lead to irreversible lung damage, she said.

“If you can knock it off and pick it up early in kids, then you’re likely to lead to long-term better health outcome.”

Story source: https://www.pharmacynews.com.au/News/Latest-news/Why-you-should-never-ignore-kids-with-chronic-coug

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What every parent needs to know about teen suicide.

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