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Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do

2:30

Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon, http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html

Your Teen

Helping Teens Cut Down on Sugary Drinks

2.00 to read

Want to help your teen shed his or her addiction to high-sugar drinks? A new study says that when adolescents are shown the calorie content, and how long they will have to vigorously exercise to burn off those calories, many teens decide to make a different choice as to what they drink.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly," lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a press release about the study.

Researchers set up in a convenience store and used 3 methods to see if they could discourage teens from choosing drinks packed with sugar. In the first method they posted a sign that noted there are 250 calories in a typical bottle. The second sign noted that the bottle contains about 10% of an average teen’s daily-recommended calorie intake. The third sign told them that they would have to jog for about 50 minutes to burn off the calories.

The results were that all three methods discouraged teens from buying the sugary drinks by approximately 40%, but the third method had the biggest impact. When teens knew how much they would have to jog to burn off the calories, 50% chose water or diet soda instead of the high-sugar drinks.

The size of soda drinks has changed over the years. Most can drinks are 12 ounces, but bottled drinks are usually 20 ounces, with some being as large as 1 liter (34 oz.)

Super sized fountain drinks and “Gulp” drinks can be anywhere from 28 oz. to 55 oz. The 7-11 Double Gulp has 186 grams of sugar (almost a cup of sugar) and 744 calories! How does 3 hours of jogging to burn off those calories sound?  Liquid candy is what some public health officials have labeled these soft drinks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) looked at teens and high sugar drinks. CSPI’s analyses of 13- to 18-year-olds found that five percent of male soft-drink drinkers down about five or more cans a day and five percent of female drinkers consume more than three cans a day. That’s 80 percent more than 20 years ago. And, because kids are drinking more sweetened beverages than milk, they are getting too little calcium for growing teeth and bones, reports the CSPI. That's especially important for growing girls, who are at highest risk of osteoporosis.

For kids without a weight problem, one sweetened beverage per day -- as part of a well-balanced diet -- is fine, says Sarah Krieger, RD, LD, MPH, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If children are maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and are active, one soda is OK."

The American Beverage Association agrees. "No single food or beverage is a unique contributor to obesity," says Tracey Halliday, a spokeswoman for the association. "Obesity is a serious and complex problem that is best addressed by living a balanced lifestyle -- consuming a variety of foods and beverages in moderation and getting regular physical activity. Quite simply, all calories count, regardless of the source."

If your child has a tendency to gain weight, however, it's best to keep these beverages out of the house. "Keep it for parties, since for most young kids that's about once a week," says Krieger, who is also lead instructor for children's weight management classes at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Also, limit other sweet drinks -- including 100% fruit juice. "Yes it's healthy, but it can have as many calories as a soda. One serving a day is OK, but that's all," she says.

There have been a lot of articles on teens and obesity. Some say too many. But the reason there is so much attention paid to obesity and children is not because of how children look- but because of the damage obesity can cause to a young person’s health. One third of all kids between the ages of 2 (yes 2) and 19 are overweight or obese.  Young kids and teens are developing health problems that used to affect only adults, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type2 diabetes.

Helping your child or teen wean themselves off high-sugar drinks is a good start to improving their diet and health.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chain restaurants and retail food establishments - companies whose primary business is selling food - with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus. The rule would also require calorie counts on vending machines. The calorie information would have to be "displayed clearly and prominently" and be listed per item or per serving,

The goal is to help people realize how many calories they are consuming so they can make better food and drink choices. It’s a good start towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sources:

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/15/teenagers-buy-fewer-sugary-drin...

http:// children.webmd.com/features/children-and-sweetened-drinks-whats-a-parent-to-do

Your Teen

Parents Need to Have the “Sex Talk” With Their Kids

2:00

Let’s face it, talking to your child about sex isn’t something a parent looks forward to, but a new study says teens who have had a serious conversation about sex with one or both parents are more likely to use condoms or birth control is they are or become sexually active.

“The take home message is that parents do matter, and these conversations do matter,” said Laura Widman, lead author of the new paper and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

While the more information you can present to your child in a way that addresses the health aspects of sexual activity is good, parents don’t have to be experts says Widman, “Just having the conversation is important,” she said. “That’s the good news.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of high school students have had sexual intercourse. Almost 60 percent of high school students surveyed who have had sex said they used a condom when they last had sex, but 14 percent of sexually active teens said they did not use any birth control the last time they had intercourse.

Young people, aged 15 to 24, make up only a fraction of the sexually active population, but they bear a disproportionate burden of sexually transmitted diseases. And while teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly, there were still 625,000 teen pregnancies in 2010, and nearly half of them –273,000 — gave birth.

Widman noted that results from the study showed that teens who communicated with their parents about were more likely to communicate with their sexual partners and to use condoms.

“We know that being able to communicate with a partner about condom use is one of the best predictors of whether teens use condoms or not,” Dr. Widman said. “So providing kids with the language they need and getting the message across that the subject is not off-limits or taboo can make a difference in their behavior.”

Some parents worry that talking about sex with their child somehow sends a message that they are approving of that behavior. However, studies have found that children who are comfortable talking about sex are actually more likely to delay sexual activity and be older when they first have intercourse.

“Parents fear that if they bring these issues up, they’re signaling that it’s okay to have sex, but that’s completely untrue – we know that parents who bring it up, and bring it up regularly, their kids are least likely to have sex,” said Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a professor of social work at the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and author of an article about that topic that was published recently in JAMA Pediatrics.

Parents aren’t the only ones uncomfortable talking about sex, so are their kids.  In a 2012, half of the kids surveyed said they were uncomfortable talking to their parents about sex. Only 19 percent of the parents said they were uncomfortable having the “sex talk” with their child.

Children often think that if they ask questions, their parents “will overreact or assume they’re having sex,” said Dr. Guilamo-Ramos, who has developed some pointers on talking with your children.

If you’re wondering how to start that conversation with your child, the Office of Adolescent Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has these tips:

·      Use current events, pop culture or developments in your social circle to start conversations about sex, healthy relationships and contraception. It’s not a one-time chat, Dr. Guilamo-Ramos said. “Talk to your child on a regular basis.”

·      Take on the tough topics, like birth control and sexual orientation.

·      Pay attention to a teen’s romantic relationships. Teens in intense romantic relationships are more likely to have sex, especially if the partner is a couple of years older than your child.

·      Address your child’s concerns, not just your own. “They want help with the real life pressures they’re experiencing in social situations,” said Dr. Guilamo-Ramos. “Talk with them about what a healthy relationship looks like, and help them come up with strategies and short one-liners that will help them get out of tough situations.”

·      Make sure to talk to your sons, not just your daughters. “Parents’ messages are often more directed to girls than boys,” he said. “And boys aren’t getting the information they need.”

The findings from the North Carolina State University research stem from a large analysis of adolescent health data, based on more than 50 studies involving 25,314 teens over the course of 30 years. The link between parental communication and safer sex practices, while modest overall, is strongest for girls and for teens that talked with their mothers, according to the research, published online in JAMA Pediatrics

As with most studies, the results do not prove a conclusion, only an association. 

Source: Roni Caryn Rabin, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/why-parents-should-have-the-sex-talk-with-their-children/?_r=0

 

Your Teen

What Is the Most Common and Deadly Cancer Found in Teens?

2:00

Do you know the most common and deadly cancer found in teens and young adults? You may be as surprised as I was when I read that a new study shows it is brain cancer.  It’s also not a particular type of brain cancer, but can vary widely as people age.

"For these individuals -- who are finishing school, pursuing their careers and starting and raising young families -- a brain tumor diagnosis is especially cruel and disruptive," said Elizabeth Wilson, president and CEO of the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).

"This report enables us for the first time to zero in on the types of tumors occurring at key [age] intervals over a 25-year time span, to help guide critical research investments and strategies for living with a brain tumor that reflect the patient's unique needs," Wilson said in an association news release.

Researchers look at data from 51 separate cancer registries, representing 99.9 percent of the U.S. population in the 15 to 39 year-old-age group.

While 2 types of tumors were the most frequently found in this age group, brain and central nervous system tumors, the report also noted that other types of cancer became more prevalent as people got older.

"What's interesting is the wide variability in the types of brain tumors diagnosed within this age group, which paints a much different picture than what we see in [older] adults or in pediatric patients," said report senior author Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, an associate professor at Case Western's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland.

"For example, the most common tumor types observed in adults are meningiomas and glioblastomas, but there is much more diversity in the common tumor types observed in the adolescent and young adult population," Barnholtz-Sloan said in the news release.

"You also clearly see a transition from predominantly nonmalignant and low-grade tumors to predominantly high-grade tumors with increasing age," she added.

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States have brain and central nervous system tumors. And more than 10,600 such tumors are diagnosed in teens and young adults each year, with 434 dying of their disease annually, according to the ABTA.

The most common treatment for brain cancer continues to be surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, new research is looking into the development of tailored therapeutics involving a combination of targeted agents that use different molecules to reduce gene activity and suppress uncontrolled growth by killing or reducing the production of tumor cells based on their genetic character. Experimental treatment options may include new drugs, gene-therapy and biologic modulators that enhance the body’s overall immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells.

"There are clearly unique characteristics of the 15-39 age group that we need to more comprehensively understand, and the information in the ABTA report starts that important dialogue," Barnholtz-Sloan said.

The ABTA-funded report was recently published in journal Neuro-Oncology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/brain-cancer-news-93/brain-cancers-both-common-and-deadly-among-young-adults-report-shows-708339.html

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brainandspinaltumors/brainandspinaltumors.htm

Daily Dose

Eating Disorders

1.30 to read

I see a lot of girls who are preoccupied with their weight. It seems that more and more girls, at younger and younger ages begin to ask, “am I fat?” or “does this dress make me look fat?” or even “why do I have a fat on my stomach that I can pinch?”.  

The world we live bombards young girls with images of being thin and of the “perfect body”.  We all know that a Barbie doll is not a realistic image of a woman’s body, just as the cover of People magazine or the cover of Teen Vogue is also not always “real”.  Many models are 10-20% below their ideal weight, and movie stars often have their pictures “photo-shopped” to appear thinner.  The obsession with being thin has only continued to contribute to the increasing incidence of eating disorders, in girls as young as 10 and 11.  

Anorexia and bulimia are both examples of eating disorders.  Anorexia is a syndrome in which there is insufficient caloric intake to maintain normal weight and growth, which is associated with a disturbed body perception, an intense fear of weight gain, and obsession of being thinner. Girls (who are more commonly affected) truly believe that they are fat, even when they are emaciated and they fail to be able to distinguish a healthy weight.     

Anorexia occurs in about 1% of the adolescent population, and is most commonly seen in females (90%), who are Caucasian (95%). It is also seen more commonly in middle to upper middle class families.   

Bulimia is defined as binge eating followed by compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain.  These behaviors may include vomiting (purging), laxative abuse, diuretic usage, stimulant abuse, and enemas.   

Girls who develop eating disorders often have many common personality characteristics. They are typically pretty, over achieving, perfectionistic, anxious, sensitive, self critical, and have a desire to please others.  They often will say that their eating disorder “gave them a sense of control in a world out of control”.  

I see many young girls (and I have treated 2 anorexic teen age boys) who have what I call, “disordered eating”. In other words, they are the picky eater who has gotten even more picky. They are suddenly obsessive about food, count calories, weigh their food or talk about being fat.  They talk about diets and may have mother’s who are very self conscious about their weight as well who may also have “eating issues”.  There is often discussion at meals about who will eat what, how much and when. Mealtime is often an anxiety provoking, stressful “event”.  In other words, food has become a preoccupation.   These symptoms coupled with a preoccupation about appearance and body image are warning signs of developing a full blown eating disorder.    

If your child is showing any of these symptoms, and you see abnormal weight loss or unusual behaviors surrounding eating and mealtime the most important thing you can do is to talk to your doctor. Do not wait until your child has a full blown eating disorder.   You do not have to see your daughter have weight loss, missed periods, secretive behaviors surrounding mealtimes, evidence of binge eating, or ritualized eating behaviors to be concerned about a possible eating disorder. The earlier the problem is recognized and addressed the easier it is to treat. 

Both anorexia and bulimia treatments are intensive and involve an interdisciplinary approach.  Treatment teams should include your primary care physician (who is comfortable treating eating disorders), a psychiatrist and/or psychologist, and a nutritionist.  It takes a team to treat these issues. It also takes a great deal of family involvement, including both individual and family therapy. 

The best advice I have is to begin family mealtimes at young ages where the focus is on eating a healthy meal together. Less focus on food and more focus on family values, attitudes and behaviors will help to instill healthy eating habits.  A little family exercise is a good thing too.  

Daily Dose

Uber & Teens

1:30 to read

Do you have Uber cars in your area?  I first found out about Uber (and I am only using them as an example) when my son lived in NYC and often used the car service. Later on I heard about college kids using Uber as well.  In that case, many college kids did not have cars and/or they were being “responsible” after being at a party.

But recently, in conversations with my adolescent patients, I have heard that high school kids are using Uber to come home after a party, or other social activities. In otherwords, their parents are not picking them up from the dance, concert, or party but are letting their children (often young girls) call Uber.  Where are their parents and what are they thinking?

I realize that once your child heads off to college you hope and pray that they are making good choices and are being safe. You don’t really plan on picking them up after an event or talk to them that same night about what they have been doing and with whom.  But when we had high school age children, my expectations were that we, the parents, were responsible for taking our teens to the party and to pick them up. Once they were driving the “rules” changed a bit in that they were then often driving themselves to an event and then would drive home and we would be up waiting for them to get home.  They always knew that we would be there when they got home and also that if there were any “issues” we were also available to pick them up. We talked a lot about underage drinking as well as driving and responsibility.  Never did I think they would call a cab or car service, nor was that idea ever broached, they were to call their parents.

So now that these “app” car services are available around the clock, are parents abrogating their responsibilities for parenting teens?  By allowing their teens to call a car service for their ride home, are parents seemingly not interested in where their child has been or who they have been with or what they have been doing before they get home?  You certainly can drop your child at a concert or party and tell them to text Uber to get a ride home, but does this parental non-participation quietly help to condone inappropriate, risky, teen behavior?

Although picking your child up at the end of the evening or checking on them when they pull in the driveway will never ensure that your teen does not get into trouble, I think it does help them think a bit more about having to interact with their parents at curfew time. This “worry” might help lead them to make a better decision about drugs, alcohol or whom they are hanging out with. Putting teens into the “hands” (cars) of strangers as their ride home just seems wrong. Parents be aware. 

Your Teen

E-Cigarettes Luring Non-Smoking Teens to Regular Cigarettes

2:00

E-cigarettes have not decreased teen cigarette smoking and may be enticing adolescent non-smokers to take up tobacco products, according to a new study.

Youth smoking has steadily declined over the past decade, with no steeper decrease after e-cigarettes debuted on the U.S. market in 2007, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

“There is strong evidence in adults, together with some, but more limited evidence in youth, that e-cigarettes are associated with less, not more quitting cigarettes,” said study co-author Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The fact is that for kids, as with adults, most e-cigarette users are 'dual users,' meaning that they smoked cigarettes at the same time that they smoked e-cigarettes,” Glantz added by email to Reuters.

For the past decade, some public health officials have been concerned that e-cigarettes may lure a new generation into nicotine addiction. Others have been willing to see if the nicotine producing gadgets might actually help smokers quit cigarettes.

During the study period, the overall percentages of teens that reported any smoking decreased from 40 percent to 22 percent.

The proportion of youth who identified themselves as current smokers dropped from 16 percent to about 6 percent during the same period.

But teen cigarette smoking rates did not decline faster after the arrival of e-cigarettes in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009.

And combined e-cigarette and cigarette use among adolescents in 2014 was higher than total cigarette use in 2009, the study found.

Researcher also looked at the traits that typically go hand –in-hand with youth cigarette smokers such as living with a smoker or wearing clothing with tobacco products or logos.

While teen cigarette smokers in the study often appeared to fit this profile, adolescents who used only e-cigarettes didn’t display these risk factors.

This suggests that some low-risk teens might not use e-cigarettes if they were not an option, the authors noted.

The authors said that the study was not a controlled experiment to see if e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking cigarettes. They also noted that they lacked data on teens that dropped out of school and might have a higher rate of tobacco use than kids that remained in school.

However, this lengthy study suggests teens that use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking, says Dr, Thomas Wills, interim director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the university of Hawaii Cancer in Honolulu.

“E-cigarette advocates have tried to argue that this is only because those teens who used e-cigarettes were high-risk people who were going to smoke anyway and their e-cigarette use had nothing to do with this,” Wills, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email.

“A number of studies have now specifically examined this hypothesis,” Wills added. “In each case, the empirical results went against the confounding hypothesis, so we can be confident that the effect of e-cigarettes for contributing to uptake of smoking is a real effect and is not just due to a group of high-risk persons.”

The USDA banned selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 in August of 2016. The regulations also require photo IDs to buy e-cigarettes, and ban retailers from handing out free samples or selling them in all-ages vending machines.

The rules also cover other alternative forms of tobacco like cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.

Seeing a surge in use, U.S. big tobacco companies are now in the business of developing e-cigarettes with flavors. These are the type of e-cigarettes that generally attract younger people.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-e-cigarettes-idUSKBN158009

Your Teen

Teens Using Internet for Better Health

2:00

There’s been a lot of bad news concerning teens and the Internet but finally there’s something good to report. According to a new study, many adolescents are using the Internet to research ideas on how they can improve their health.

In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study to be released Tuesday by researchers at Northwestern University.

Now that’s the kind of Internet use that makes parents let out a sigh of relief.

The study emphasizes the importance of making sure that there is accurate and easy to understand information that is available “because it’s used and acted upon,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

While social media may be the new neighborhood community, 88 percent of the participants said they didn’t want to share their health concerns on Facebook or on one of the many other social media outlets.

“I mainly find it kind of moving, because it really illustrates that a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and that the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves,” said Vicky Rideout, a co-author of the study.

Researchers surveyed 1,156 American teenagers between 13- and 18-years-old. Teens in English-speaking households were surveyed last fall, and those in Spanish-dominant households were surveyed in March. Eighty percent of those surveyed attended public school.

The survey explored how often teens use online tools, how much information they receive, what topics they are most concerned with, what sources they trust and whether they have changed their health behaviors as a result.

The top health topics were fitness and exercise (42 percent), diet and nutrition (36 percent), stress or anxiety (19 percent), sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

While Internet health-related searchers are growing in popularity, parents are still the number one choice for teens to learn about health issues (55 percent).

The next source was health classes in school, doctors and nurses and Internet searches being the fourth most popular way to get the information they wanted.

“The Internet is not replacing parents, teachers, and doctors; it is supplementing them,” the researchers wrote.

In fact, 23 percent of teens say they have gone online to research information about a condition that affects a friend or family member. Data from the study indicates that 31 percent of low-income teens have done so, compared with 18 percent of high-income teens.

What are the top health topics teens are Googling? Fitness and exercise was number one (42 percent). Followed by diet and nutrition (36 percent). Next up was stress or anxiety (19 percent), and a few that many parents might not think of; sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

The survey points out that teens may need extra attention when it comes to digital literacy skills. So many articles are wrapped in advertising that is trying to sell someone a particular weight-loss product or new diet aid. Half of teens say they usually click on the first site that comes up. Domain names that end with “.edu” are more trusted than those that end with “.com,” the survey found.

“We need to make sure there is good information for teens online,” Rideout said. Teens could be influenced by the tweets they see about e-cigarettes without realizing that a large proportion are coming from manufacturers, she said.

Still though, teens are learning a lot from the Internet; a place where they can search for answers anonymously. It’s up to parents, teachers, doctors and nurses to guide them towards websites with sound information that is based on on the kinds of websites where they can find science-centered information and helpful advice.

Source: Lena H. Sun, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nearly-13-of-teens-changed-health-habits-based-on-digital-search-study-finds/2015/06/01/c6679aec-0892-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Dangers of Texting While Driving

I was watching the news the other evening (not the same as morning news surfing while on the treadmill) and there was a news segment on texting while driving.

We have discussed this issue on the radio show several times. The data surrounding accidents occurring secondarily to texting while driving becomes more alarming each day. In this segment they showed a public service announcement (PSA) that had been shown in Great Britain, which was produced to show the dangers of texting while driving. The introduction talked about risks of accidents while texting while also discussing how texting is as dangerous, if not more, than drinking and driving. They then showed a clip, which was produced to show teens in a car talking together, while at the same time texting other friends. The simulated PSA then goes on to show the driver being distracted as she answers a text and the ensuing accident involving multiple vehicles. This piece then shows the girls in the car (remember it is a re-enactment, also in slow motion at times) as they are hitting the other cars, being thrown about inside their car. It is so difficult to watch as the girls are catapulted inside the car, into one another, as well as into the windshield and dashboard, and there is blood everywhere. As the piece closes, all of the cars come to a stop and the girls are shown. They slowly realize that they have been in an accident and one of their friends is dead. The entire segment probably lasted no more than a minute, but it may have been one of the most difficult 60 seconds to watch, as it is many parents’ nightmare! This PSA is not being shown in the U.S. and some parents may think it is too graphic to show to their children. In my opinion, any teen that has a phone and a driver’s permit/license should be required to watch this, and younger teens may need to watch this too.  There have been fatal accidents involving trains, and buses all secondary to the driver texting while on the job. The statistics continue to show an alarming number of accidents due to driver inattention due to texting. My son has a friend whose precious sister was recently killed in an accident that is thought to be due to the fact that she was texting while driving. There were no drugs, or alcohol and she had on her seat belt. It occurred on a beautiful morning without rain or fog but she crossed the median while driving. The rest of the story is tragic. We have all become addicted to our phones, and Blackberry’s. There is NOTHING so important that it cannot wait until we have stopped the car. Not a business meeting, call from home or teen party or rendezvous that needs to be instantly answered. The only job we need to have while driving is to focus on driving. I am continually reminding myself of this, as I feel my Blackberry vibrate while I drive. I have to resist the urge to look. Maybe it is better to just turn it off while in the car. We all managed to function without instant communication for a long time.  Life went on. If you haven’t seen this, watch it with your teens. Make a point of reiterating the dangers of texting while driving. Have them turn off their phones in the car. It is too bad we can’t have a device that will turn the phones off when we start the car, and make us ALL resist the urge to be in constant communication. Turn on the music; it is less distracting than a phone! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

More Information: Public Service Announcement (WARNING: This is a dramatization, containing realistic graphic material)

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