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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,

Your Child

Another Study Finds No Vaccine –Autism Connection


A new study, using insurance records for nearly 96,000 U.S. children, found no link between the measles - mumps – rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism – even among children who are at an increased genetic risk.

Experts are hoping that this study, along with several other studies on the risks of autism and the MMR vaccine, will reassure parents that the vaccine is safe.

While the original 1998 study associating the vaccine with autism has been found fraudulent, many parents continue to worry that the vaccine could be a trigger for autism; particularly parents that already have a child with autism.

"Research has shown that parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders are more likely to delay vaccinating their younger children," said Dr. Bryan King, an autism researcher at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

"Basically, they wait until the developmental dust has settled, and it looks like their child will be unaffected (by autism)," said King, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

Health officials are concerned that children who do not receive the MMR vaccine are putting other children at risk for serious diseases. They point to the recent measles outbreaks as one example. So far this year, 162 people have been sickened across 16 states and Washington D.C. according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Scientists are working hard to find out why there has been an increase in autism over the last decade.  It's known that genes make certain children more vulnerable to autism -- that's why kids with an affected older sibling are at higher-than-average risk. But environmental factors also have to play a role, experts believe.

Based on years of research, the MMR vaccine is not that trigger, according to health experts. "Every study that's looked at this, through every strategy they've used, has found no signal," King said.

According to King, it's natural for parents with a child who has autism to want to reduce their younger kids' risk.

"Everyone believes there have to be environmental factors contributing to the exponential rise we've seen in ASDs," he said. "But we don't understand what those factors are yet."

Researchers are finding clues, though. And more and more, they suspect that prenatal brain development is the critical period, King said.

The new findings are based on insurance records for nearly 96,000 U.S. children with an older brother or sister; 2 percent had an older sibling with an autism spectrum disorder.

Of the children with an affected sibling, 7 percent had an autism spectrum disorder themselves, compared to just under 1 percent of other kids. There was no evidence, though, that the MMR vaccination raised the risk of autism in either group of children, Jain said.

Among kids with an affected sibling, those who'd received one MMR dose by age 2 were actually one-quarter less likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the study found. The odds were even lower among those who'd received two doses by age 5.

The study did not reveal any evidence that the MMR vaccine offered any protective influence over autism, only that it was not associated with an increase of risk for autism.

More studies are in the works to find the source of autism. Environmental factors are playing a key role in many of those studies as well as genetic links.

It’s understandable that parents would worry about vaccinations of any kind having a negative effect on their child, but more and more studies confirm that the MMR vaccine is one that parents can eliminate from their list of concerns.

This study was reported in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source: Amy Norton,

Your Child

Concussion’s Effects May Linger in Kids

2.00 to read

Concussions have been in the news a lot lately, particularly when they relate to children. Awareness about the dangers of concussions has changed how schools, coaches and parents watch for and treat this kind of injury. A new study released this week points out that some concussion side effects can last longer than thought.

Children who suffer even a mild concussion can have attention and memory problems a year after their injury.

The study results were published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, and suggest that problems such as forgetfulness, dizziness,  and fatigue may linger for up to about 20 percent after an accident.

Forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention, headaches and fatigue were more common in study children who lost consciousness or who had other mild head trauma that caused brain abnormalities on imaging tests, compared with kids who didn't get knocked out or who had normal imaging test results.

Longer lasting symptoms were not determined since the study only followed children for a year after their injury. For that year though, children who had injury-related symptoms experienced "significant functional impairment in their daily lives."

"What parents want to know is if my kid is going to do OK. Most do OK, but we have to get better at predicting which kids are going to have problems," said study author Keith Owen Yeates, a Neuropsychologist at Ohio State University's Center for Biobehaviorial Health.

Children who have concussion symptoms may need temporary accommodations such as extra time taking school tests, or wearing sunglasses if bright light gives them headaches, Yeates said.

Most of the children in the study received their concussion from a sports related injury or fall, but about 20 percent had a mild brain trauma injury from a traffic accident or some other cause.

The study included 186 children, aged 8 to 15, with mild concussions and other mild brain injuries treated at two hospitals in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The reports are based on parents' reports of symptoms up to 12 months after the injuries.

The brain injuries studied were considered mild because they involved no more than half an hour of unconsciousness; 60 percent of kids with concussions or other brain trauma had no loss of consciousness.

Overall, 20 percent who lost consciousness had lingering forgetfulness or other non-physical problems a year after their injury; while 20 percent who had abnormal brain scans had lingering headaches or other physical problems three months after being injured.

The study adds to research showing that mild traumatic brain injuries, including concussions "should not necessarily be treated as minor injuries," Dr. Frederick Rivara, Archives' editor, said in a journal editorial.

More information is needed to determine who is most at risk for lingering problems after these injuries, and to determine what type of treatment and activity restriction is needed, said Rivara, a pediatrician and University of Washington researcher.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

According to the CDC, if your child has any symptoms of a concussion - which include different sleeping patterns, mood changes or problems with cognitive processes - you should bring them to a medical professional. If the child is having a headache that won't go away, weakness or decreased coordination, vomiting or nausea, slurred speech, will not nurse or eat and/or is crying and cannot be consoled, they need to be taken to a hospital immediately.


Your Teen

Acne Gel Linked to Rare Side Effect


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,

Your Child

Kid’s Allergies Linked to Depression and Anxiety


According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of U.S. children suffer from allergies. It is the third most common chronic disease in kids under the age of 18.

A new study suggests that children who have allergies at an early age are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression than those that do not.

One reason may be that children with allergies tend to keep their troubles to themselves or  “internalize” them.

“I think the surprising finding for us was that allergic rhinitis has the strongest association with abnormal anxiety/depression/internalizing scores compared to other allergic diseases,” said lead author Dr. Maya K. Nanda of the division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rhinitis is more commonly called “hay fever” and includes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

The researchers studied 546 children who had skin tests and exams at age one, two, three, four and seven and whose parents completed behavioral assessments at age seven. They looked for signs of sneezing and itchy eyes, wheezing or skin inflammation related to allergies.

Parents answered 160 questions about their child’s behaviors and emotions, including how often they seemed worried, nervous, fearful, or sad.

Researchers found that the four-year–old children with hay fever symptoms or persistent wheezing tended to have higher depressive or anxiety scores than others at age seven.

The more allergies a child had, the higher the anxiety and depression scores.

“This study can't prove causation. It only describes a significant association between these disorders, however we have hypotheses on why these diseases are associated,” Nanda told Reuters Health by email.

Another reason for the association may be that children with allergic diseases may be at increased risk for abnormal internalizing scores due to an underlying biological mechanism, or because they modify their behavior in response to the allergies, she said.

Other studies support the idea that that a biologic mechanism involving allergy antibodies trigger production of other substances that affect the parts of the brain that control emotions.

In a 2005 study, Teodor T. Postolache, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that peaks of tree pollen increased with levels of suicide in women.

Postolache says allergic rhinitis is known to cause specialized cells in the nose to release cytokines, a kind of inflammatory protein. Animal and human studies alike suggest that cytokines can affect brain function, triggering sadness, malaise, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness.

The new study took race, gender and other factors into account, “so the strong association between allergic disease and internalizing disorder we found is definitely present,” Nanda said.

The severity of mental health symptoms varied in this study. Some children had anxiety and depression that needs treatment, while others were at risk and required monitoring, she said.

“We think this study calls for better screening by pediatricians, allergists, and parents of children with allergic disease,” Nanda said. “Too often in my clinic I see allergic children with clinical anxiety (or) depressive symptoms; however, they are receiving no care for these conditions.”

“We don't know how treatment for allergic diseases may effect or change the risk for internalizing disorders and we hope to study this in the future,” Nanda said.

Experts hope that if parents know that allergies may contribute to their child’s mood or behavior, they will be more likely to keep a closer eye on their child for signs of depression or anxiety and seek treatment if necessary.

The study was presented in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle,

David Freeman,


Your Baby

Breastfeeding May Improve Infant’s Dental Development.


Infants that breastfeed exclusively or predominately for their first three to six months of life are less likely to develop any kind of dental misalignment later on according to a new study.

The researchers, led by Karen Peres at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breast-fed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old.

The children were also monitored for pacifier use.  About forty percent used a pacifier daily for four years.

When the children were 5, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, cross bite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.

The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breast-fed for three to six months compared to those who didn't, the findings showed. If they breast-fed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44 percent.

Similarly, children who exclusively breast-fed for three months to six months were 41 percent less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breast-feeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72 percent.

The reason breastfeeding might offer protection from dental misalignments is the way it works an infant’s jaws. Breastfeeding involves coordinated tongue and jaw movements that support the normal development of teeth and facial muscles.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, agrees that it’s the jaw movement.

"Breast-feeding requires the use of jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding, so the mechanics of breast-feeding stimulate muscle tone in the jaw," Fisher said.

Open bite, overbite and moderate to severe misalignment were generally less common overall among the children who mostly or exclusively breast-fed. Children who mostly breast-fed but also used pacifiers, however, were slightly more likely to have one of these misalignment issues, the study found.

"Pacifiers are used for non-nutritive sucking but when overused, they can put pressure on the developing jaw and lead to more problems in older children with malocclusion [teeth/jaw misalignment]," Fisher said.

Parents oftentimes depend on the pacifier to help babies relax and self-soothe. The key is moderation of use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider using a pacifier for an infant's first six months because pacifiers are associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"Most infants need to suck for comfort or non-nutritive sucking," Fisher said. "Pacifiers can be helpful in the newborn period and even help reduce incidents of SIDS in infants who sleep with them."

Instead, parents should simply limit pacifier use, she said. In addition, pacifiers are not needed past the first six to 12 months, Fisher said, so parents can begin weaning after that time.

Like most studies, the results did not prove cause and effect, but an association.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle,

Your Child

1 in 10 Kids Have an Alcoholic Parent

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Since the passing of singing legend, Whitney Houston, the public has heard almost non-stop about her battle with serious drinking and drug problems. We’ve also learned that her 18-year-old daughter has had her own trouble with drugs and alcohol. They may be celebrities, but they share one thing in common with many American families - the long-term effects of alcohol abuse.

More than 1 in 10 U.S. children are living with an alcoholic parent and are at increased risk of developing a host of health problems of their own, according to a new government study released on Thursday.

Researchers at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) analyzed national survey data from 2005 through 2010. They found that on average, 7.5 million children, under the age of 18, lived with a parent abusing alcohol during any given year. That’s about 10.5 percent of the under 18 population.

About 6.1 million of the children, lived in a 2-parent household where one or both of the adults abused alcohol.

Researchers said that of the 1.4 million children who lived in a single parent home where the adult had a drinking issue, the overwhelming majority was in female-head of households. The figure given was 1.1 million households.

"The enormity of this public health problem goes well beyond these tragic numbers as studies have shown that the children of parents with untreated alcohol disorders are at far greater risk for developing alcohol and other problems in life," SAMHSA representative Pamela Hyde said in a statement.

The study said that children of alcoholics were at a greater risk for mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

Another not surprising discovery was that these children were at higher risk for being abused or neglected by their parents. They were also more likely to have thinking or language difficulties and four times more likely to develop alcohol problems of their own.

While this study looks at how many children live with an alcoholic parent, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reports that if you substitute relative for parent then the statistic changes to one in five adult Americans have lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up.  Again, the statistic is pretty staggering.

What can be done to help children of alcoholics? There are support groups and resources available, but understanding family members, friends, teachers, coaches and counselors can also help lead these children down a more positive path.  

Children and adolescents of alcoholic parents can benefit from educational programs and mutual-help groups such as programs for children of alcoholics, Al-Anon, and Alateen. Early professional help is also important in preventing more serious problems for the child, including reducing risk for future alcoholism.  Child and adolescent psychiatrists can diagnose and treat problems in children of alcoholics. They can also help the child to understand they are not responsible for the drinking problems of their parents and that the child can be helped even if the parent is in denial and refusing to seek help.

Some resources for families dealing with alcohol abuse are:

1. National Association for Children of Alcoholics-

2. Al-Anon –

3. Adult Children of Alcoholics –

4. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry-

Sources:  /

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Cigarettes Down, Pot Use Up


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,

Alice G. Walton,



Your Baby

Should Pregnant Women Buckle-Up?

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Should expectant mothers buckle up and make sure the air bag is turned on before driving or riding in a car?  Absolutely say researchers in a recent study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Many women are concerned that, in case of an accident, seat belts and /or air bags might harm their unborn child, but according to the study, expectant mothers who are not restrained during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy than those who are.

According to the March of Dimes, nearly 170,000 pregnant women are involved in a motor vehicle accident each year.

"One thing we're always concerned about is (educating) patients on seatbelt use," said Dr. Haywood Brown, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center and senior author of the new study.

"Nonetheless, like all individuals, some choose and some do not choose to wear their seatbelt," he added.

For the study, Brown and his colleagues searched through the trauma registry at Duke University Hospital. They found 126 cases of women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters that had been in a car crash and were cared for at the hospital between 1994 and 2010.

What they discovered was that 86 mothers were wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred. Of that group, 3.5 percent or (3) fetuses died.

12 mothers were not wearing a seat belt. Of the unrestrained group, 25 percent or (3) fetuses died. 

"The bottom line is, you've got to wear your restraint because it decreases the risk not only for your injuries but injury to your child," Brown told Reuters Health.

Where should the seat belt be placed? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the seat belt be fitted low across the hipbones and below the belly.

The March of Dimes offers more seat belt and air bag guidelines for pregnant women:

  • Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
  • Never place the lap belt across your belly.
  • Rest the shoulder belt between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.
  • Never place the shoulder belt under your arm.
  • If possible, adjust the shoulder belt height to fit you correctly.
  • Make sure the seat belt fits snugly.
  • Driving can be tiring for anyone. Try to limit driving to no more than 5-6 hours per day.
  • Never turn off the air bags if your car has them. Instead, tilt your car seat and move it as far as possible from the dashboard or steering wheel.
  • If you are in a crash, get treatment right away to protect yourself and your baby.
  • Call your health provider at once if you have contractions, pain in your belly, or blood or fluid leaking from your vagina.

Researchers found that first time mothers were the least likely to use a seat belt. Brown noted it's possible that the habit of buckling in children might prompt mothers to put on their own seatbelt.

Mothers-to-be also worry about airbags and whether they could harm the fetus if a crash causes deployment.

In the study, airbags came out in 17 of the accidents, and in those cases the mother was more likely to experience the placenta separating from the uterus - a condition that can be fatal for the mother or the fetus.

Another researcher, not involved in the study, suggested to Reuters Health that the severity of the accidents, and not the airbags, might have been the cause of the serious consequences.

Brown said some women will disarm the airbag for fear that it will damage the baby in case of a crash, but "it's not the smart thing to do because it will save your life if the airbag comes out."

A study, from researchers in Washington State, found that airbags did not increase the risk of most pregnancy-related injuries.

No one likes to think about the damage a car accident can cause, but the reality is that seat belts and air bags save lives. Mothers-to-be, like everyone else, should use theirs when driving or riding in a car. You may need to make some adjustments so that your seat belt fits safely and correctly and the air bag is not right up next to your stomach, but taking those few extra steps could mean the difference between life and death.

Sources: Kerry Grens,


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