Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

“Sexting” and Teen’s Sexual Activity

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Sexting is texting accompanied with sexual pictures of your self to someone else. They can be nude photos, pictures of genitalia only or provocative poses. A new study looks at teens and sexting to see if teens that participate in sexting are more likely to become sexually active. A kind of which comes first scenario- sexual activity then sexting, or sexting then sexual activity?

Earlier research has shown teens that sext with explicit images are more likely to be sexually active than kids that don’t sext.

But which comes first?

The new findings suggest that, at least for some kids, the sexting comes first – the activity later. It’s being referred to as the current form of “getting to first base.”

“This behavior isn’t always new, it’s just a new medium,” said Jeff Temple, an associate professor and psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the study’s author. “But it’s not safe because it can be shared.”

The study’s findings come from a 2012 study covering a 6-year period. Almost 1,000 teens in Texas answered anonymous surveys detailing their history of sexting, sexual activity and other behaviors.

Temple and his postdoctoral fellow, Hye Jeong Choi, then looked at data from years two and three of the surveys to determine if sexting led to risky behaviors or if risky behaviors came first.

“Sexting preceded sexual behavior in many cases,” Temple said. “The theory behind that is sexting may act as a gateway or prelude to sexual behaviors or increases the acceptance of going to the next level.”

The study also found that among the teens having sex, most weren’t engaging in risky sexual behaviors.

Temple, who spends much of his time working with teens in local high schools and middle schools to discuss issues related to sexuality said this news shouldn’t send parents locking their kids away. In fact, he welcomed the findings, as a “call to arms to talk to your kid about sexual health or behavior,” he said. “This is kind of good news that sexting comes first. So if I catch them sexting, then maybe I have an opportunity to talk to them.”

While sexting is certainly a concern for parents, the subject itself is something that teens and parents should spend time discussing. The more trust worthy information teens have on the subject of sex, the better decisions they are able to make and the better they are at protecting their mental and physical health.

Source: Amy Joyce, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/06/sexting-is-the-new-first-base-yes-maybe-even-your-child/

Your Teen

Kid's Injuries Up From Texting and Walking

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You see the warnings everywhere – Don’t text and drive. A new warning is about to get a lot of attention – Don’t text and walk. We know we should watch where we’re walking but with the world at our fingertips it’s easy to get distracted.

And teenagers are particularly vulnerable to keeping their eyes glued to their cell phone or tablet instead of watching where they are going.  

A new report shows that in recent years, pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19 year-olds increased 25 percent. Teens aged 14 to 19 made up half of all child pedestrian injuries, according to the report from SafeKids, a global non-profit organization focused on preventing injuries among children.

The study, “Walking Safely: A Report to the Nation”, took snapshot views of pedestrian death and injury among five year intervals from 1995 through 2010 and looked at age groups 0 to 4, 5 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 to 19. Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, SafeKids found that the death rate among older teens is now twice that of younger kids, with 1.11 deaths per 100,000 members of the population as opposed to .47, .33, and .45 in the other cohorts respectively. 

While the report, sponsored by FedEx, doesn’t break down how many of those were using mobile devices at the time of injury, Kate Carr, president and CEO of SafeKids Worldwide, says she believes that’s what is driving the rise in injuries.

“In addition to the increase in pedestrian injuries we saw among older teenagers, we also examined numerous outside reports about how much mobile use has increased among teens, “ she says. “We know that the average number of texts per teen has risen dramatically. Couple that with drivers who are talking on the phone or texting, and you have distracted people on both sides of the equation. Our hypothesis is that the rise in injuries among these older teens is caused by their dramatic increase in their cell phone use.”  

Some states are so concerned about pedestrians getting hurt while texting and walking they have created bills banning it. If you’re caught texting and walking you can receive a hefty fine. Other states are opting for educational campaigns warning adults and kids of the dangers.

Most of the injuries involved are twisted or broken ankles, head bumps, concussions and lacerations. But, there have also been cases of distracted kids and adults walking into traffic and falling from train platforms. One young man almost walked into a bear!

Experts say that texting or talking on a cell phone while walking or driving takes your attention off the environment around you. It shifts your focus from driving, or what is in front of - or around you, to images your mind creates from conversation. 

September and October, when kids have headed back to school and it’s still warm enough to walk in many places, are among the deadliest months according to the SafeKids report.

Andrea Gielen, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, has worked extensively on pedestrian safety for high school and college campuses across the country and recommends parents begin teaching safe walking habits early. For starters, don't let kids cross the street until they are at least 10 without an adult so they can see parents modeling good behavior. (Which means parents have to put down their phones too!)

And Gielen reminds parents to teach their children that they can’t necessarily rely on drivers to be paying attention. Kids, she says, need to learn how to be safe pedestrians just like they learn to be safe drivers in driver’s education classes.

Her golden three rules for all pedestrians: 

-     Follow all street signs and cross with the light.

-     Always put your phone down or in your pocket before you step off the curb.

-     Make eye contact with the driver before you cross.

While driving and texting is still one of the most hazardous things a person can do, walking and texting is beginning to be a serious problem too.  With an overabundance of apps available, and friends holding cybernetic conversations, more and more kids are tapping on their cell phones and walking into that pole or car right in front of them.

Talk to your child about texting and walking, maybe try some experiments at home, to help them realize there can be unexpected and dangerous consequences.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3034481/ns/health-childrens_health/

Your Teen

Are Energy Drinks Rotting Your Teen’s Teeth?

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A lot of parents know that too many high sugar sodas are not only hazardous to their child’s waistline and health, but they can also cause cavities. But what about the energy drinks teens are gulping down? A new study suggests those drinks could be stripping the enamel right off their teeth.   

In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers have looked for the first time at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. It turns out there's often a lot of citric acid in the drinks.

To give drinks a long shelf life and to enhance flavors, preservatives are added. It’s the preservatives that are very good at stripping the enamel off of teeth.

Dentists are especially worried about teens. 30 to 50 percent are now drinking energy and sports drinks and losing enamel. Once it's gone, teeth are more prone to cavities and more likely to decay.

"We are well aware of the damage that sugar does in the mouth and in the whole body — the role it can play in obesity, diabetes, etc," says Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and the lead author of the study. "But the average consumer is not very well aware that acid does all kinds of damage, too."

To measure just how energy and sports drinks affect teeth, the researchers looked at the fluoride levels, pH, and something called "titratable acidity" of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, including Gatorade and Red Bull.

The researchers then measured how much enamel the drinks took off teeth, dousing sliced-up molars in a petri dish with the beverages for 15 minutes, followed by artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days.

The researchers found that teeth lost enamel with exposure to both kinds of drinks, but energy drinks took off a lot more enamel than sports drinks.

Drink labels list citric acid in the ingredients, but they don’t have to show the precise amount.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) was quick to respond to the study.  

"It is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities)," the ABA said in a statement responding to Jain's paper. "Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person's dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up."

"This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality," the ABA noted in its statement. "People do not keep any kind of liquid in their mouths for 15 minute intervals over five day periods. Thus, the findings of this paper simply cannot be applied to real life situations."

Jain is concerned about health effects beyond cavities. She says consuming a lot of citric acid can lead to loss of bone mass and kidney stones. "This has become a big concern because people are drinking more of these drinks and less milk," she says.

Dentist Dr. Jennifer Bone, spokesperson for Academy of General Dentistry, the organization that publishes the journal, said in the statement that teens and adults should curb their intake of these types of drinks. If they're going to drink one anyway, she recommends they chew sugar-free gum or rinse their mouth with water after drinking the beverage.

"Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal," Bone said.

Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/health/main204.shtml?tag=hdr;cnav

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health

Your Teen

When Your College Freshman Calls Home...

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There once was a time when most of my friends were dropping their children off for their first day of school. Now it seems like a lot of them are packing the car and dropping their child off at college!

My how the time goes by.

Sooner or later, the parents of these kids may get a phone call, email or text (most likely the latter) from their young independent child saying they are a little homesick or overwhelmed by all the challenges of college life. That’s a normal reaction to immense change.

A recent article I read hit home on a lot of the trials that kids face when experiencing total freedom from their every day parental input. The article was written from the perspective of what one young lady wished she had known before going to college, but I thought it offered good advice for parents looking for ways to reassure and offer advice (when asked) to their new college student as well.

1. Let them know that everyone is in the same position as they are. College is the time to be friendly and open to meeting new people. Remind them that they can feel less intimidated by remembering that others are in the same situation as they are and will likely be grateful if your student reaches out to them.

2. Coping with roommates. It’s not easy living in the same room as someone, no matter how well you get along. Your college student may have shared a room with a brother or sister before, but this is completely different.

Let them know that coordinating sleep schedules to when they can have guests over, having a roommate requires constant communication and compromising. 

Whether they choose to live with someone who they already know or with someone new, being direct, open and considerate can help build a successful relationship with their roommate. 

However, if they do end up in a difficult roommate situation, they can talk to their resident adviser. He or she will hopefully be able to help them resolve the situation, whether it’s talking through their disagreements or switching roommates. 

3. Alcohol. Most college students are going to have the opportunity to drink alcohol either on or off campus. It’s one of those “new experiences” that can quickly get out of control. Remind your child that drinking brings risks. Take the time for a heart–to-heart, particularly with young women, about the dangers of being drunk and vulnerable with people you don’t know well. Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of a violent crime, or alcohol-related traffic crash. That’s not just parental paranoia; it’s a fact.

There are several very good websites that have articles on talking to your teen and college student about drinking. One such website is: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/otheralcoholinformation/makedifference.aspx.

Drug use falls into the same category. I wish there was a magic button to press to keep our kids safe and away from all dangers, but there isn’t. Open communication, watching for signs in changes of behavior and fingers crossed are our best options right now.

While it’s not the most important topic related to college drinking, a gentle reminder that booze can also add a lot of calories and increase the probability of gaining the traditional freshman 15 pounds (or more) may not hurt either.

 

4. Staying ahead of the game. Procrastinating on completing schoolwork until the night before can lead to pulling all-nighters, high stress and low grades. If grades or school pressure is giving your child an extra dose of anxiety, suggest making a schedule, keeping a to-do list and setting goals for the semester that reflect their priorities. Make big projects more manageable by breaking them into small steps to complete over time. 

5. Get to know the professors. Your child may feel a little lost in the crowd and the classroom, especially in the larger schools and classes. Ask them if they are making an effort to get to know their professors. It’s amazing how many kids don’t. These people understand how difficult it can be to start a new adventure and not have the peer support someone is used to. They see it every year. 

Also, they may also be the ones your child turns to when needing a recommendation. Mention that they could introduce themselves, visit with their professors during office hours and ask questions about their courses and interests. Let them know their professors may be able to introduce them to others in their field or help them get their first job out of college.

You never know how valuable a certain relationship can be.

6. Finances. Here are some tips for managing their finances. Let them know that there are many ways they can cut back on costs while in school if they think strategically. Search for the cheapest place to buy textbooks, such as renting them for the semester through Amazon, or downloading the texts.

Look into scholarships through the school or outside organizations. Sites like Scholarships.com or Fastweb.com can help you find scholarships that are specific to your needs. 

And if their schedule allows, get a part-time job so they can help pay for food and housing. Many people have helped pay for or paid entirely for their own college education. It can actually help someone appreciate the opportunities that college offers more.

Four years will pass in the wink of an eye, just like the years since your child first walked through the doors of grade school. Life’s funny that way.

This isn’t the complete list that the author outlines in her article; you can see more ideas on the link listed below.

When children are finally college bound, it’s an exciting and bittersweet time for parents. Just remember to keep the communication going, the welcome door open and the washer and dryer ready for a new load. They’ll be in touch.

Source: Sarah Bourassa, http://www.today.com/parents/11-things-i-wish-i-knew-going-college-1D80098788

Your Teen

Teens Giving Birth Reaches Historic Low

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U.S. teens giving birth has reached historic lows. New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today points to the ongoing and significant drop in the U.S. teen birth rate over the past 2o-plus years.

The CDC attributes the drop to fewer teens having sex and more frequent use of contraception. While the overall rate dropped significantly, some states did better than others in the reduction of teenagers giving birth.

Rates are consistently highest across the southern and southwestern United States and lowest in the Northeast.

The 10 highest states were Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The 10 lowest states were Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

The teen birth rate has declined across all racial groups since 1991, but the steepest declines have been recorded among Asian-Pacific Islanders (API) (64 percent) and non-Hispanic blacks (63 percent). API teens currently have the lowest birth rate overall (9.7 per 1,000), while Hispanic teens have the highest rate among the racial groups (46.3 percent). Still, the rate for Hispanic teens has fallen the fastest since 2007 (39 percent).

The good news for America is somewhat tempered by the fact that our teen birth rate still ranks among some of the highest for developed countries. While countries like Denmark, Switzerland and Japan recorded teen birth rates under 5 per 1,000, the United States finds itself among seven of 31 countries highlighted by the CDC with rates exceeding 20 births per 1,000 teens.

Even though we lag behind many other developed countries, we’re still making progress and progress is good for our teens’ health and our economy.

The CDC says the progress made since 1991 has amounted to 4 million fewer teen births. Citing research from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the CDC says this also saved taxpayers an estimated $12 billion alone in 2010 from costs associated with government-funded health care, child welfare and higher incarceration rates for the children of teen moms. And having fewer babies born to teen mothers, the CDC points out, is good for other reasons. Teen motherhood comes with a higher health risk for the baby, educational limits for the mother and limited resources, since about 90 percent of teen births are to unmarried mothers. And babies born to teen mothers are more likely to eventually become teen mothers themselves.

Some states, like Colorado, have seen dramatic reductions in teen births by re-thinking their approach. Between 2007 and 2012, Colorado saw the highest percentage drop in birth rates among teens 15 to 19 in the country, according to the CDC report. During that time, its teen birth rates dropped 39 percent compared to 29 percent nationwide. Abortion rates in the state among teens fell 35 percent between 2009 and 2012 and are falling nationally, as well.

What did Colorado do differently? They invested wisely in their young women and teen’s public health education and pregnancy prevention options.

State public health officials are crediting a sustained, focused effort to offer low-income women free or low-cost long-acting reversible contraception, that is, intrauterine devices or implants. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates. The state also saw a 50 percent drop in repeat pregnancies among teens.

Public health officials there and elsewhere long have argued the use of long-acting reversible contraception can dramatically reduce the number of unintended pregnancies -- which make up a majority of teen pregnancies. Colorado’s initiative built upon a somewhat similar effort in St. Louis, Mo., which educated about 7,500 sexually active women on various forms of contraception and then offered to pay for that contraception over the next three years.

Seventy percent of women in the Missouri study chose an IUD or implant. The conclusion: those who chose short-term methods such as the pill or the patch were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who used an IUD or an implant.

Whether teens are delaying having sex or they are becoming savvier about using contraception, for their health and future prospects- it’s good to see that our young teenage girls are having fewer babies.

Sources: Jason Millman, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/20/the-uneven-and-historic-decline-in-teen-births/

Tina Griego, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/20/the-simple-policy-that-led-americas-biggest-drop-in-teen-pregnancies/

Your Teen

Is Your Teen’s Aching Knee More Than “Growing Pains”?

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Many kids experience what is commonly referred to as “growing pains” as they get older.  Children may experience aches and pains as young as 3 to 4 years old, then again around 8 to 12 years of age.

When a teen’s legs and knees hurt, he or she may also be told that they are probably suffering from growing pains and that they will grow out of it. 

There are times when a youngster or teen has simply overdone it by running and / or jumping too much. Like anyone else, if they haven’t used those muscles enough – they’ll be sore.

However, consistent knee pain is something else.

A Danish study says that if a teen’s knee pain persists, it could become a chronic condition affecting their quality of life.

"We can see from the study that one in three young people between the ages of 12 and 19 experience problems with pain in their knees," said Michael Skovdal Rathleff, a physiotherapist from Aarhus University. "Seven percent of the adolescents experience daily knee pain in the front of the knee. More than half still have problems after two years, so it is not something they necessarily grow out of."

The study involving 3,000 teens revealed knee pain is a more significant problem than previously thought.

"If knee pain is not treated there is a high risk of the pain becoming chronic. And this clearly has a big consequence for the individual's everyday life and opportunities," Rathleff noted in a university news release. "Our findings show that these adolescents have as much pain symptoms and reduced quality of life as adolescents on a waiting list for a cruciate knee ligament reconstruction, or as a 75-year-old six months after receiving a new knee."

Other studies have shown that about 25 percent of patients who've undergone a knee replacement because of osteoarthritis of the kneecap also had knee pain since they were teenagers. Osteoarthritis of the kneecap, the researchers concluded, may sometimes begin early in life. They added, however, that earlier treatment and proper training could help.

According to a study published in BMC Pediatrics, pain resolves in about half of the young people with knee pain when they get the right physical therapy. Unfortunately, many kids may not get the therapy they need soon enough.

"It is worrying that the pain only disappears in the case of half of the young people who actually do the training," said Rathleff. "The indications are that we should start the treatment somewhat earlier where it is easier to cure the pain."

Do all teens with a bad knee need physical therapy? Not necessarily, it all depends on the child's circumstances, Rathleff noted.

If your child has knee pain that doesn’t seem to go away or consistently comes and goes, you might want to talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about physical therapy and see if he or she recommends it. The benefits could be life changing for your active teen. 

Source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/teen-growing-pains-may-persist-for-years-690210.html

Your Teen

Do Expensive Football Helmets Prevent Concussions?

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These days, parents, student athletes and coaches are much more aware of the long-term medical problems that concussions can cause. Fortunately, many efforts are being made to protect kids from head injuries.

Sports equipment companies have jumped on the bandwagon and have improved the protection their helmets and pads offer. However, some of these newer products, like football helmets, are quite expensive. Parents want to know if these more expensive football helmets actually offer more protection. According to a new study, just because a  helmet may be heavier and more expensive, it will not lower a player’s risk of concussion.

Why is that? It could be because a helmet doesn’t keep the brain from moving around in the skull. It may offer better protection against a skull fracture, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with concussion.

A study of more than 1,300 players on football teams at 36 Wisconsin high schools found that players wearing older helmets received just as much protection from concussion as players with flashy new models, said study author Timothy McGuine, senior scientist and research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Medicine Center in Madison.

"The helmet technology is advanced as it can be. They've done a wonderful job. We don't have skull fractures in football," he said. "But I don't know how much padding can be put in to prevent the brain from sloshing around inside the cranium."

This research, to be presented Saturday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Chicago, comes at a time when some sports equipment manufacturers are marketing expensive football helmets amid claims that they offer better protection against concussion than earlier models, McGuine said.

"They're all being touted as the next best thing to prevent sports injuries, and it really puts the squeeze on athletic directors and coaches," he said. "Some companies are going right to the parents and saying, 'We know it's too expensive for the school to pay for it, so you should pay for this helmet to protect your child.'"

Here’s how the study worked. Licensed athletic trainers at each of the high schools taking part in the study, kept thorough records during the 2012 football season. All safety equipment used by the athletes was noted. Data was also recorded on the numbers of games and practices each player participated in and the number of sports-related concussions.

The players wore helmets manufactured by Riddell, Schutt and Xenith.

Out of 1,332 players tracked, 115 sustained a concussion during the season, McGuine reported.

Researchers found no difference in the rate of concussion by either the type of helmet worn or the helmet's age.

"We found the actual incidence of concussion was not more for players wearing the newest helmets versus wearing helmets 3, 4 or 5 years old," McGuine said. "We also looked at [concussion] severity by helmet model. No difference there, either."

Another interesting fact also popped up during the study. Players who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard actually had a higher risk of suffering a concussion than players who wore the generic mouth-guard provided by the school.

The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine released a position statement in January that said hard sports helmets can prevent impact injuries such as lacerations or fractures but have not been shown to reduce the incidence or severity of concussions, said Dr. Anne-Felicia Ambrose, medical director of the traumatic brain injury unit in the department of rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

"In terms of equipment, there really isn't that much more we can do," Ambrose said. "Where we have a lot of potential for reducing concussion is the way the game is played."

Some experts believe that changing how games are played is more likely to prevent concussions than equipment.

For example, limiting contact between players outside of competition is one means of reducing concussions, she said. "A lot more concussions occur during practice, when coaches cannot have their eyes on everyone on the field," Ambrose said. "The chance of impact is increased."

McGuine agreed. "I don't see any reason for kids to have full tackle on practice days," he said.

Since football players are going to be wearing helmets for other safety reasons, McGuine suggests that coaches and trainers make sure that each player’s helmet is properly fitted and checked weekly.

How many high school football players receive a concussion every year during play or practice? McGuine says about 40,000. That’s a lot of concussions.

Parents want to make sure that their child is as safe as can reasonably be expected, so they are more vulnerable to high-pressure sales pitches that tout the safety of certain products. According to this study, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer, especially where concussions are concerned. 

The research presented at the meetings mentioned above, are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: Dennis Thompson, http://consumer.healthday.com

Your Teen

FDA Requires Warning Labels for Sunlamps and Tanning Beds

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Love the look of a suntanned body? Lots of people do, particularly young women and teens. But, that tanned body comes with a higher risk of skin cancer according to the American Academy of Dermatology and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

That’s why the FDA is changing its regulation of sunlamp products and UV lamps intended for use in sunlamp products. The changes strengthen the oversight of these devices, and require that sunlamp products carry a visible, black box warning stating that they should not be used on people under the age of 18.

Previously, the products were listed as low-risk. The new category raises the risk to moderate. 

Even though the new warning is now mandatory, it is not against the law for minors to use tanning booths and sunlamps, although a few states have gone ahead and banned the use of indoor tanning salons for people under the age of 18.

The American Academy of Dermatology says studies have shown people who have been exposed to UV rays from indoor tanning have a 59% increase of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"The FDA has taken an important step today to address the risk to public health from sunlamp products," said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Repeated UV exposure from sunlamp products poses a risk of skin cancer for all users, but the highest risk for skin cancer is in young persons under the age of 18 and people with a family history of skin cancer."

This change is due to concerns that the effects of UV radiation add up over time, and children and teenagers who are exposed to indoor UV radiation are at greater risk for skin and eye damage.

“There is increasing evidence that tanning in childhood to early adult life increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma,” says FDA dermatologist Markham Luke, M.D., Ph.D. In fact, according to an overview of studies published in the journal Pediatrics, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their 20s and the third most common cancer in men in their 20s in the U.S.

Luke adds that many experts believe that at least one reason is the increased use of sunlamp products by U.S. teenagers and young adults.

Not everyone believes sunlamps that emit UV rays cause skin cancer or health problems.

Representatives for the Indoor Tanning Association say they are disappointed in the reclassification. "I just don't think the science is there," said John Overstreet, executive director of the association. "I think it's blown out of proportion. We are obviously disappointed in the FDA's latest moves."

Others believe that the FDA is over-stepping its boundaries.  Tanning salon advocates say parents should be making the decision about whether their children are allowed to use tanning salons and sunlamps and that this is just the first step toward government control over what should be parental choices.

The FDA overview suggest that doses of UV radiation emitted by high pressure sunlamp products may be up to 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun, an intensity not found in nature. UV-A radiation penetrates to the deeper layers of the skin and is often associated with allergic reactions, such as a rash. This is not to say that outdoor tanning is safe. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified all UV radiation as a carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Skin cancer is not the only possible side effect of UV rays. The rays may also age the skin prematurely causing wrinkles and loss of elasticity of the skin. 

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm350790.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/29/health/tanning-sunlamps-labeling-fda/index.html#disqus_thread

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