Your Teen

Concussions May Affect Kid’s Academic Performance


Can a concussion affect your child ‘s academic performance? According to a new study it might, depending on two factors - the severity of the concussion and the grade level of your child.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a fall or blow, jolt or bump to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth rapidly. While most recover from mild concussions quickly, the young and the elderly can have symptoms that last for days or weeks.

Researchers from the Children's National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University studied 349 students ages 5 to 18 to find out what happened to their academic performance after concussions. They divided the students into those who were continuing to experience problems following head injuries and those who were fully recovered, and asked the students and their parents to fill out questionnaires about their academic performance.

The study found that the severity of the concussion symptoms was directly related to the degree of academic problems among all grade levels. Eighty-eight percent of the children who were not fully recovered still had problems with concentration, headaches and fatigue. Seventy-seven percent of those same children had problems taking notes and found themselves spending more time on homework and having problems studying for exams and quizzes.

High school students reported having the most learning problems, significantly more than middle or elementary school children.

The authors say that their findings suggest that school systems and medical professionals should be working together to support students who are still in the recovery phase.

"Our findings suggest that these supports are particularly necessary for older students, who face greater academic demands relative to their younger peers," the study's authors say.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The Mayo Clinic says that common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not follow a loss of consciousness, usually involves the loss of memory of the event that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

•       Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

•       Temporary loss of consciousness

•       Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

•       Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

•       Dizziness or "seeing stars"

•       Ringing in the ears

•       Nausea

•       Vomiting

•       Slurred speech

•       Delayed response to questions

•       Appearing dazed

•       Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

•       Concentration and memory complaints

•       Irritability and other personality changes

•       Sensitivity to light and noise

•       Sleep disturbances

•       Psychological adjustment problems and depression

•       Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in infants and toddlers can be difficult to recognize because these little ones are unable to communicate how they feel. However, there are nonverbal clues of a possible concussion. These are:

•       Appearing dazed

•       Listlessness and tiring easily

•       Irritability and crankiness

•       Loss of balance and unsteady walking

•       Crying excessively

•       Change in eating or sleeping patterns

•       Lack of interest in favorite toys

Concussions should always be treated seriously even when a child doesn’t seem to be showing physical or mental symptoms. If you suspect your child may have a concussion seek a professional diagnosis to make sure.

Sources: Sandee LaMotte,

Your Teen

AAP: Raise the Smoking Age to 21 for Tobacco, e-Cigarettes


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes raised to 21 across the United States. In new policy recommendations, the AAP released a statement urging more than two- dozen tough regulations to help reduce youth smoking and addiction to nicotine.

Nicotine is considered physically and psychologically addictive, with some experts claiming that it is as additive and hard to kick as heroin and other hard narcotics.

The AAP also calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates other tobacco products. The FDA has issued a proposed rule that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes.

"Most adolescents don't use just one nicotine product but will commonly use or experiment with several," said Dr. Harold Farber, lead author of two of the statements and a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "Research to date shows that adolescents who experiment with e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes are much more likely to go on to become regular cigarette smokers and less likely to stop cigarette smoking."

Currently, only Hawaii and about 90 cities and communities in several other states have a law requiring a minimum age of 21 to purchase tobacco products, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"As the brain matures, the ability to make decisions with important health consequences should likewise improve," said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. "Thus, slightly older young adults may choose to forgo tobacco products," suggested Fisher, who was not involved with the new policy recommendations.

Not only would the AAP like to see e-cigarettes regulated, but also their candy-like flavors and menthol eliminated.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  more adolescents used e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product in 2014.

In addition to calling for FDA control of e-cigarettes, the AAP recommended that smoke-free laws expand to include e-cigarettes. The group recommends that use of any tobacco or nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, be banned in all workplaces, schools, dormitories, bars, restaurants, health care facilities, sidewalks, parks, recreational and sports facilities, entertainment venues and multi-unit housing.

"The jury on e-cigarettes remains out, but it is clear that carcinogens and potentially harmful substances are nonetheless present in this alternate nicotine delivery system," said Dr. Jack Jacoub, director of thoracic oncology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center's MemorialCare Cancer Institute in Fountain Valley, Calif.

Other policy recommendations include a ban on Internet sales of e-cigarettes, a tax on e-cigarettes at the same rate as traditional cigarettes and a requirement for adult ratings on any entertainment depicting e-cigarette use.

The AAP also recommended banning advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in all media, including television, radio, print, billboards, signs and online, and in stores where children and teens might see them..

Another concern is the number of young children who have suffered nicotine poisoning from accidently ingesting liquid nicotine. Poison control centers receive more than 200 calls per month for accidental ingestion of nicotine for e-cigarettes, the AAP noted, and one toddler died last year from swallowing some. The APP recommends child-resistant packaging for these products.

"Toddlers and young children love to explore new things and to put things in their mouths, so it is imperative that packaging and childproofing be done to enhance the safety of their environments," Fisher said. "This is analogous to having childproof caps on pill bottles."

The new policies were presented Monday at the group's national conference and published online simultaneously in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle,

Your Teen

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


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,


Your Teen

Teens Suffering from FOMA (Fear of Missing Out)


At one time or another, we’ve probably all experienced the feeling that our friends are out having fun, doing interesting things or just simply meeting up, and for some reason, we didn’t know. It’s called the fear of missing out or FOMA. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to FOMA in today’s super charged social media network, according to a new study.

Experts from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found FOMO elevates anxiety levels of teenagers and may contribute to depression.

It’s not only teens whose stress levels are increasing due to heavy social media use, but adults are also experiencing more anxiety.

The findings, released in the 2015 National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey, measured the levels of stress that Aussies experience and how the use of social media affects their behavior and wellbeing.

Dr. Mubarak Rahamathulla, a senior social work lecturer at Flinders University who led the report, said that levels of anxiety, stress and depression of Aussies who were involved in the study have increased since the beginning of their survey.

The survey included questions on Aussies' experience on social media, as well as a separate survey containing questions about FOMO for teenagers who were aged 13 to 17 years old. More than half of all the teenagers involved in the survey admit that they use social media 15 minutes before bed every night.

Four in ten of the teens said they use social media when they are in the company of others and one in four said they check in on social media while eating breakfast and lunch every day.

The fear of missing out seems to affect teens more that are heavy social media users. About 50 percent of the respondents said they felt the fear of missing out on their friends' inside jokes and events, as well as the chance to show they're having fun on social media.

All this checking in to see what their friends are up to seems to leave some teens feeling like they are living less rewarding lives. For instance, a user may be watching TV at home and decides to casually check and scroll through Facebook. Only, the user sees that his friends have posted photos of them out clubbing and he suddenly feels like he's missing out on something important.

“There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress and depression," said Rahamathulla.

He added that teens today are somehow getting confused between the online world and the real world.

APS member and psychologist Adam Ferrier said that people have always felt the fear of missing out on parties and activities even before the Internet, but social media indeed elevated the FOMO intensely.

Some teens are catching on that too much social media isn’t good for one’s sense of wellbeing. They’ve made the decision to cut back and spend more time with family, doing something they like to do or enjoying a little quiet time alone. But many teens are caught up in the habit of checking on what others are doing and comparing their life to their friends.   

Experts agree that parents need to be aware of how much time their child is spending on social media and watch for symptoms of depression or anxiety. Redirecting their attention or requiring that electronics be turned off after a certain hour at night can help them remember that the real world is a good place to visit and hang out for awhile.

Source: Alyssa Navarro,


Your Teen

Teens Join Parents in E-Cigarette Concerns


While much has been written about the connection between teen e-cigarette use and increased tobacco use, little has been said about teens and their views on the topic. A new U.S. poll ask teens about their opinions on whether e-cigarettes should basically have the same type of government controls as other tobacco products.

The poll found that many teens share the same health concerns about e-cigarettes that their parents do.

"We found overwhelming public support of state efforts to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.

More than 75 percent of teens aged 13 to 18 and parents believe e-cigarette use should be restricted in public areas and that the devices should carry health warnings and be taxed like regular cigarettes, according to the national survey conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. The hospital is part of the Ann Arbor-based university system.

The poll also noted that 81 percent of teens and 84 percent of parents believe that allowing minors to use e-cigarettes will encourage them to use other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes can come in candy-like flavors, sometimes enticing adolescents that may not have considered tobacco use before.  In this poll, more teens (71%) than adults (64%) believed that the candy and fruit flavored e-cigarettes should be banned.  About half of the teens and parents said that think it is too easy for minors to purchase e-cigarettes.

Fourteen percent of parents and 9 percent of teens said they have tried or currently use e-cigarettes, and 42 percent of teens said they know other teens that have used e-cigarettes.

All U.S. states except Michigan and Pennsylvania restrict e-cigarette sales to minors.

"Just as we are seeing declines in smoking of conventional cigarettes, there has been rapid growth in use of electronic cigarettes among youth. Our poll indicates that both parents and teens agree that e-cigarettes pose several concerns," Davis said.

"We found overwhelming public support of state efforts to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors," he added.

Although teens in this survey believe e-cigarettes should be regulated, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use among middle and high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014.

As e-cigarette use becomes more popular, it seems that teens and parents may be getting in sync on this topic.

"Some people may be surprised that teenagers' views are remarkably consistent with what parents think about e-cigarettes," Davis said. "The strong level of agreement between parents and teens suggests that both groups are concerned about the health hazards of e-cigarettes."

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Teen

Summer Viruses Are Gearing Up

1.15 to read

Is it hot enough for you? Summer is here and will continue for a bit! Winter viruses are a distant memory (good bye flu and RSV), summer viruses which have been laying dormant are once again rearing their angry heads.

My office has been overflowing with really hot feverish kids of all ages.   I think the most likely culprit for much of the illness we are seeing right now is an enteroviral infection.  For some reason, it makes us parents feel better if we can “name that virus”, seems to help validate the illness.  

Enteroviral infections typically cause a non-specific febrile illness and with that you can see fairly high fever. In other words, just like the thermometer as summer heat arrives , 101-104 degrees of fever is not uncommon in these patients.  Remember the mantra, “fever is our friend”. I think it is almost worse to have a high fever in the summer as you are even more uncomfortable because it is already hot!

With that being said, if your child has a fever, don’t bundle them up with layers of clothes and blankets.  It is perfectly acceptable to have your younger child in a diaper and t-shirt, and older children can be in sundress or shorts rather than long sleeves and pants.  Bundling may increase the body temperature, even while you are driving to the doctor’s office. I often come into a room with a precious baby who is running a fever and they are wrapped in blankets, let them out! That hot body needs to breathe.

These summer enteroviruses may cause other symptoms as well as fever, so many kids right now seem to have sore throats and are also vomiting and having diarrhea. With this type of virus you also hear complaints of headaches and body aches (myalgias).  The kids I am seeing don’t look especially sick, but they do feel pretty yucky!  Just kind of wiped out, especially when their temps are up.

Besides treating their fevers, treat their other symptoms to make them comfortable.   If they are vomiting do not give them anything to eat and start giving them frequent sips of liquids such as Pedialyte (for the younger ones) and Gatorade or even Sprite or Ginger Ale. Small volumes are the key. 

I often use pieces of Popsicle or spoonfuls of a Slurpee to get fluids in kids. I always tried to pick drink colors for my own kids that were easier to clean up, in case they were going to vomit again, so no bright red!  The cold fluids may also help to soothe a sore throat. Once the vomiting has stopped, and it is usually no more than 12-24 hours, you can start feeding small amounts of food, but I would steer away from any dairy for a day or two. Again, nothing worse than thinking your child is over vomiting, fixing them I nice milkshake (comfort food) and seeing that thrown up!  Many a mother has come into my office wanting to strip after being vomited on, in a hot car no less.   I don’t think there is a car wash around that can fully get rid of that smell!

Most enteroviral infection last anywhere from 2-5 days. There are many different enteroviruses too, so you can get more than one infection during the season. This is not just a virus you see in children, so watch out parents you may succumb as well. Keep up good hand washing and your child should stay home from school, the pool, camp, day care etc. until they have been fever free for 24 hours. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

Synthetic Marijuana Sending Teens to ER

2.00 to read

More teens are ending up in hospital emergency rooms because of bad reactions to synthetic marijuana. Common names for the drugs are K2, Spice & Blaze. These are chemicals sometimes sold as “potpourri” and can produce symptoms of agitation, aggression, excessive sweating, restlessness and an inability to speak.

To make matters worse, ER physicians might not recognize the symptoms of these newer drugs and therefore not give the teen the immediate medical attention he or she needs.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers received 4,500 calls involving problems from synthetic marijuana between 2010 and 2011. The researchers also reported an increase in the number of teens reporting to emergency rooms after using the fake - but dangerous - drug.

Another problem in diagnosing an overdose is that the drugs do not show up in routine drug test given at a hospital.

The researchers hope by sharing these stories, other doctors will be able to recognize signs of synthetic marijuana intoxication.

"When we suspected the use of synthetic marijuana in these patients, we soon realized that there is little information about this drug in the medical literature," study author Dr. Joanna Cohen, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C., said in a hospital written statement. "Because it is a relatively new drug, we should be aware of the symptoms and make a concerted effort to share our experiences in treating patients so we can develop best practices."

The drugs can contain unknown additives and chemicals that may cause a different set of physical symptoms. They include elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rates and paranoia - which could mimic a panic attack - along with hallucinations and even seizures for some users, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who was not involved in the study. Effects of long-term use might be even worse.

"The truth is that we do not know the long term effects on the brain and nervous system in children and teens after use of synthetic cannabinoids," Glatter told HealthPop in an email. "With repeated use, potential side effects reported have included cognitive difficulties, including memory loss as well as psychosis."

The study gave details on three cases of so-called "synthetic cannabinoid intoxication" for their study; a 16-year-old girl who was "catatonic" with her eyes open, but not responding to verbal or painful cues to try and get her attention. Another looked at an 18-year-old boy who was agitated and sweating profusely, and the third case looked at a 16-year-old boy who presented to the ER hallucinating with a "frozen face" and slow speech.

Dr. Cohen noted that ER physicians should consider using comprehensive lab tests that check the urine, blood and electrolytes for chemicals. She also said parents need to be aware of the symptoms and that teens experiencing signs of intoxication should get immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of smoking or oral ingestion of synthetic marijuana can include paranoia, agitation, intense hallucinations, anxiety, convulsions, serotonin syndrome (is also sometimes caused when taking multiple medications that raise serotonin, including some migraine medications and antidepressants) , and dystonic reactions (spasms or involuntary muscle contractions). Teens may also develop hypertension, palpitations, tachycardia, anxiety, and irritability because of other chemicals that are used to make these drugs.

Although the symptoms of these toxic reactions are usually short acting and self-limiting, there is potential for multiple long-term effects, including memory loss, psychiatric complications, and addiction.

The fake marijuana is available online under the names of K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Spice, Blaze, and Red X Dawn. The drugs are also sometimes sold at tobacco shops and gas stations, and have been marketed as tea, incense, or herbs.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of using synthetic marijuana. Many kids still think the drugs are a safe and legal alternative to real marijuana use.

The study was published in the March issue of Pediatrics.


Your Teen

Teens Are Taking Risks "Just For Fun"

News study says teens are engaging in risky behavior just for the thrill of it.Every parent of a teen knows, the teen years can be a rollercoaster ride. Parents find themselves telling their teens to slow down while driving, don’t engage in risky behaviors, and stay away from alcohol and drugs.  But why do teens engage in this behavior? A new study says:  it’s for the thrill of it.

A study published in the journal Cognitive Development found that teens, especially 14 year olds were the most likely to take risks because it is an escape. "The reason that teenagers take risks is not a problem with foreseeing the consequences. It was more because they chose to take those risks," Stephanie Burnett, of the University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, explained in a university news release. This is the first evidence from lab-based study that adolescents are risk takers. Advice to parents?  Begin the dialogue early, when your child is in elementary school.  Clearly discuss your expectations and lay out the consequences of engaging in any risky behaviors.  The sooner you begin having these age-based conversations the better.

Your Teen

School-Supervised Asthma Therapy Improves Control

A new study recently released suggests that adherence with daily asthma "controller" medications among children with asthma can be enhanced with school-based supervised asthma therapy. The study is published in the February 2009 journal Pediatrics. Researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham looked at asthma control in 290 children in 36 schools. The children were randomized to receive school-based, supervised therapy or usual care.

According to researchers, no change in asthma control was seen in children in the control group during the 15-month follow-up period. For the group who had supervised asthma therapy at school, the likelihood of poor asthma control was 57 percent higher in the period before the study than during the follow-up period, indicating that supervised asthma therapy had a marked impact on their asthma symptoms. "Once daily supervised asthma therapy is a simple intervention that improves asthma control," lead researcher Dr. Lynn B. Gerald wrote. Doctors who have children with poorly controlled asthma possibly due to nonadherence to controller medication "should consider coordinating supervised therapy with the parent and the child's school" they concluded. More Information: Asthma (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.