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Your Teen

Teens Getting Less and Less Sleep

2:00

Today’s American teens are getting a whole lot less sleep than they did in the 90s according to a new study. Too little sleep makes focusing difficult and depletes one’s energy. As a result, school performance often suffers and unhealthy and/or unwise decisions are much easier to make.

Just 63 percent of 15-year-olds reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night in 2012. That number is down from 72 percent in 1991, according to the study.

Between the ages of 13 and 18, teens getting 7 hours or more of sleep a night plummets. At 13, roughly two-thirds of teens get at least seven hours of sleep a night; by 18 that percentage drops to about one-third.

"After age 16, the majority are not meeting the recommended guidelines," said study author Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Why is it so important that teens get enough sleep? A lack of sleep can impact just about every part of their life. Hormones are escalating, social interactions are fragile, school demands are heightened, self-image is developing and many begin testing boundaries with parents, teachers and each other. It can be a rugged time for teens and those around them.

For the study, researchers from Columbia University looked at sleep data from a national survey of more than 270,000 teens from 1991 to 2012. Each year, teens reported how often they got seven or more hours of sleep, as well as how often they got less sleep than they need.

The most recent recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation says teens aged 14 to 17 need eight to 10 hours a night and people aged 18 to 25 need seven to nine hours.

The largest declines in those getting enough sleep occurred between 1991 through 2000; then the problem plateaued, Keyes said.

Researchers also found that girls were less likely to get an adequate amount of sleep compared to boys.

So what’s causing the decline? There a several theories about what may be contributing to this downward slide in teen sleep.

Keyes did not have access to information about the teens' use of electronic media, a factor often blamed for lack of sleep as teens text, check social media, play video games and work on laptops late into the night. However, that might be a factor, she said.

"On an individual level, excessive use of technology may impair an adolescent's ability to sleep," Keyes said.

Caffeine may also be a culprit. It’s estimated that about 30 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks which are packed with caffeine. Many teens drink specialty coffees as well.

Another issue may be early school start times. Some sleep disorder experts believe that starting school – even an hour later- could help teens get more valuable sleep. Starting school, for instance at 8:30 a.m., is an approach favored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Other studies have noted that a lack of sleep is linked with many other teen health problems including obesity, car accidents, depression and a drop in school performance.

When kids are younger, parents are more likely to set limits on bedtime behavior as well as bedtimes. Once kids reach their teens, some of those limits may get a little lax, but this is the time when they are needed most.

Parents still have the authority to set a bedtime and require that computers, tablets and phones are off at least an hour before bedtime. Many kids (and adults) are addicted to their smartphones, so it’s a tough rule to set; it takes a strong commitment and a good example for it to work.

Lack of sleep is hard on everyone, but teens really need the extra help to stay healthy and function well in school. It has such a big impact not only on their present but for their future as well.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150216/us-teens-getting-less-sleep-than-ever

Your Teen

Knee Surgeries Increasing for Female Teen Athletes

2:00

In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was passed. The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. 

Young women and girls were given the opportunity to equally participate in school sports programs and receive athletic scholarship money proportional to their participation.

It was a monumental advancement for young girls and women, but along with opportunity came injuries.

A growing number of teenage girls are joining their male counterparts on the operating table to repair torn knee ligaments, according to a new study.

Researchers focused on surgery for a common knee injury known as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, which has long been linked to intense participation in sports like basketball and soccer which require constant pivoting as well as contact sports like football.

The study of private insurance data for 148 million U.S. residents found that overall, the average annual ACL surgery rate climbed 22 percent from 2002 to 2014, when it reached 75 procedures for every 100,000 people.

For teen girls, however, the average annual knee surgery rate rose by 59 percent during the study period to 269 procedures for every 100,000 people. 

“Although there are proven ACL injury prevention programs available, they are not being widely adopted, particularly among young women,” said lead study author Mackenzie Herzog of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study didn’t focus on why the injuries are happening, but Herzog noted a few reasons why he thinks the increase in injuries might be happening in youth sports.

“Two particular trends that concern us are increased trends toward year-round sports participation at a young age and the tendency to specialize in one sport early,” Herzog said.

For teen boys, the average annual knee surgery rate climbed 44 percent during the study period to end at 212 procedures for every 100,000 people, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics. 

Surgery rates also rose faster for women than for men, although adult male athletes still had more procedures. By the end of the study, 87 men and 61 women out of every 100,000 people had ACL surgery each year.

In an email to Reuters, Dr. Devin Peterson, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who wasn’t involved in the study, said cross-training programs that include exercises to improve strength, balance, coordination and muscle control could help prevent ACL tears.

Pediatric sports medicine expert R. Jay Lee, offers these tips and more from the Johns Hopkins Medicine website:

Get a preseason physical. A preseason or back-to-school physical is a great way to determine if your young athlete is fit to play. “Sports physicals help assess any areas of concern for athletes before they start an activity, and in turn keeps them from further injuring themselves during play if a condition is present and needs to be treated,” says Dr. Lee.

Encourage cross training and a variety of sports. “I see kids today who play on two baseball or lacrosse teams on the same day or throughout the week and year. But it’s important for athletes to change the sports or activities they are doing so they are not continuously putting stress on the same muscles and joints,” warns Dr. Lee. Parents should consider limiting the number of teams their athlete is on at any given time and changing up the routine regularly so that the same muscles are not continuously overused.

Warm up before the sports activity. Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all athletes before starting an activity or sport. Dr. Lee suggests a mix of both static and dynamic stretching during warmups to help loosen the muscles and prepare them for play. Toe touches and stretches, where you hold the position for a certain amount of time, are considered static, while jumping jacks and stretches, where the body continues to move during stretching, are considered dynamic.

Make sure the proper equipment is used. Protective equipment, like helmets, pads and shoes, are very important for injury prevention. Parents should talk with coaches before the season starts so that they have adequate time to properly outfit their child before practices begin.

Recognize injury and get help quickly.  “I’ve seen a number of young athletes who have serious injuries and didn’t do anything about them, and now the damage has progressed,” Dr. Lee warns. “We need to get these kids in to see a doctor earlier to keep this from happening.”

If parents notice that there is a change in their athlete’s technique, such as a limp when running, throwing differently or rubbing a leg during activity, they should pull the athlete out of play. If the problem persists, parents should seek an assessment for their child prior to returning to the activity.

Dr. Lee warns: “Athletes will alter the way they do things because of pain, but then they can end up with a more serious injury because of it.”

Story sources:  Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-acl-surgeries-girls-idUSKBN1952SE

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/prevention/10-tips-for-preventing-sports-injuries-in-kids-and-teens

 

Your Teen

Stop Yelling at Your Teenager!

2.30 to read

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

Tempers often ignite with harsh words being said.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Teen

Pediatricians Take on Bullies

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants doctors to take an active role in preventing bullying in schools and violence among dating teenagers. An updated policy, published in the July 2009 issue of Pediatrics, gives pediatricians tips for doing that. Doctors should tell parents to talk to their children about bullying, teach children how to resolve conflicts and promote respectful relationships in dating, the policy says. It also suggests doctors volunteer to talk about the topics at schools, churches and youth organizations.

This is the first time the AAP has addressed the issue in detail. "Violence is a public health problem that needs to be dealt with in the context of health care," said Dr. Joseph Wright of Children's National Medical Center in Washington. Wright heads the academy's violence prevention committee and helped write the recommendations. Studies suggest children's early home life, if stimulating and emotionally supportive, can protect them from being victims of bullying later in life, Wright said. "Having meals with your child, watching television with your child" are among ideas that doctors can share with parents at "every single visit between birth and age 21," Wright said. The policy also says a European program that emphasizes the role of bystanders in preventing bullying in schools could be a good model for prevention efforts in the U.S. Dr. Robert Sege of Boston Medical Center, who also helped write the policy update, said the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program teaches children that bullies are kids with problems and bystanders can protect victims. Schools that use the program teach children "we take care of our own," Sege said. Kids learn "even if you have freckles or wear glasses, it's our job to include you in the social environment."

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Your Teen

Half of American Teens Breathe Secondhand Smoke

2:00

We’ve come a long way in this country in regards to making public places free of cigarette smoke, but people in their home or car can smoke as much as they like- and that’s their right to do so. When there are children in those homes and cars – they’re inhaling secondhand smoke and that can have a major impact on their physical wellbeing.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke a smoker breathes out and that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It contains about 4,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are dangerous; more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Anytime children breathe in secondhand smoke they are exposed to these chemicals. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Smoking and Health examined data from more than 18,000 middle school and high school students; researchers found that 48 percent reported exposure to secondhand smoke in 2013. Additionally, secondhand smoke exposure was reportedly nine times higher among never-smoking teens with no smoke-free rules in their home and car, compared to those with 100 percent smoke-free rules.

"The findings weren't really a surprise as much as a call for public health action," said study author Brian King, deputy director. "The continuing research [on secondhand smoke] really helps us put a finger on who's exposed and in what location," he said.

According to the study, secondhand smoke exposure is known to contribute to several health problems in children, including respiratory symptoms, impaired lung function, middle ear disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

Analyzing questionnaire responses from students in grades 6 through 12 in 2013, King and his colleagues found that 16 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 15 percent in a vehicle. Additionally, 17 percent reported secondhand smoke exposure at school, 27 percent of those who were old enough to have a job, at work and 35 percent in indoor and outdoor public areas.

"We did assess the extent of exposure based on whether youth were [protected] by smoke-free policies, and it's no surprise that those covered by policies had lower exposure," King said.

Regarding home and car exposure, "I think it really comes down to individual families to take that action," he added.

Dr. Normal Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, called the research "very useful." He noted that comprehensive public no-smoking policies have helped lower U.S. smoking rates by helping some smokers break the habit.

"We've made great strides in protecting adults from secondhand smoke ... and the health effects have been dramatic," Edelman said. "So now it's time to protect kids from secondhand smoke, and this [study] shows that many of our kids are exposed to at least some secondhand smoke. Clearly, if they live with smokers, they're exposed to a lot, and I think those kids are most at risk."

On a personal note, my mother smoked from the time I was born to after I left home. In those bygone days, most people were not aware of the dangers of smoking and cigarette ads even promoted the “health benefits” from taking a long drag off a cigarette.

Unfortunately for me, the heath benefits were nil. I had bronchitis 2 or 3 times a year and ear infections when I was little. I developed asthma, as I got older.  No one ever made the connection between the constant cigarette smoke in the house and car and my illnesses. I was just considered a rather “sickly child.” Eventually, my mother developed COPD.

Believe me when I say secondhand smoke can become a real health problem for children.

While 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in all indoor public places and work sites -- including restaurants and bars -- several states have no statewide laws addressing secondhand smoke in public areas, and others have less stringent restrictions.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/half-of-u-s-teens-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-study-says-706864.html

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/tobacco/Pages/Dangers-of-Secondhand-Smoke.aspx

Your Teen

Early Puberty and Bone Health

1.50 to read

The normal rate of bone mass decline in adulthood is about 1 to 2 percent each year. This means that a 10 to 20 percent increase in bone density resulting from a naturally early puberty could provide an additional 10 to 20 years of protection against normal age-related decline in bone strength, according to the researchers.A new study suggest the earlier your child starts puberty, the lower the risk he or she will have osteoporosis later in life.

The research was based on 78 girls and 84 boys, who were studied from the time they began puberty until they reached sexual maturity. The investigators found that adult bone mineral density was influenced by age at puberty onset, with greater bone mass linked to early puberty and less bone mass associated with later puberty. However, bone strength did not seem to be affected by how long puberty lasted. "Puberty has a significant role in bone development," study leader Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, director of clinical imaging at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a hospital news release. "During this time, bones lengthen and increase in density. At the end of puberty the epiphyseal plates close, terminating the ability of the bones to lengthen. When this occurs, the teenager has reached their maximum adult height and peak bone mass," Gilsanz explained. Reduced bone mineral density leads to osteoporosis, which affects 55 percent of Americans aged 50 and older. The normal rate of bone mass decline in adulthood is about 1 to 2 percent each year. This means that a 10 to 20 percent increase in bone density resulting from a naturally early puberty could provide an additional 10 to 20 years of protection against normal age-related decline in bone strength, according to the researchers. The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Pediatrics. Pediatricians have long understood the role of pediatric bone development in osteoporosis prevention. The tween and teen years are critical for bone development because most bone mass accumulates during this time. In the years of peak skeletal growth, teenagers accumulate more than 25 percent of adult bone. By the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established. Following the teen years, bones continue to increase in density until a person is about age 30. The need for calcium in the diet. Calcium is critical to building bone mass to support physical activity throughout life and to reduce the risk of bone fractures, especially those due to osteoporosis. The onset of osteoporosis later in life is influenced by two important factors: •   Peak bone mass attained in the first two to three decades of life •   The rate at which bone is lost in the later years Although the effects of low calcium consumption may not be visible in childhood, lack of adequate calcium intake puts young people at increased risk for osteoporosis later in life. Other foods, including dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, are also healthy dietary sources of calcium. But, it takes 11 to 14 servings of kale to get the same amount of calcium in 3 or 4 8-ounce glasses of milk. In addition to calcium, milk provides other essential nutrients that are important for optimal bone health and development, including: •       Vitamins D, A, and B12 •       Potassium •       Magnesium •       Phosphorous •       Riboflavin •       Protein The role of physical activity in bone development. Weight-bearing physical activity helps to determine the strength, shape, and mass of bone. Activities such as running, dancing, and climbing stairs, as well as those that increase strength, such as weight lifting, can help bone development. For children and teenagers, some of the best weight-bearing activities include team sports, such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. Studies show that absence of physical activity results in a loss of bone mass, especially during long periods of immobilization or inactivity.

Your Teen

Mental Health Clues Found in Teen Brain Scans

1:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Your Teen

Teens Waiting Longer For Sex, But Still Taking Risks

"Fifteen- to 19-year-olds have the most sexually transmitted diseases. Even though they are waiting, they are having risky sex and not taking precautions," Weller said. According to Weller, it's important to provide sex education at a young age. "The younger one receives sexual education, the less likely you are to engage in risky sex," she said. Teenage girls in the United States are more likely than boys to have unprotected sex during their first sexual experience, new research indicates.

The finding was a surprise to researcher Nicole Weller, an Arizona State University graduate student working on her doctoral degree in sociology. "I'm looking at the interaction between sexual education and how it impacts young adolescent sexual behavior. This in particular was an interesting finding because males usually report that they are having more sex than females," Weller said in a university news release. Her analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth also found that young people are waiting longer than in the past to have a first sexual encounter, but they are contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) earlier than in the past. "Fifteen- to 19-year-olds have the most sexually transmitted diseases. Even though they are waiting, they are having risky sex and not taking precautions," Weller said. According to Weller, it's important to provide sex education at a young age. "The younger one receives sexual education, the less likely you are to engage in risky sex," she said. But the type of sexual education provided in U.S. schools is inconsistent -- from abstinence to STD awareness, and from birth control to pregnancy awareness. "It varies in school districts and from state to state," she added. According to Centers for Disease Control surveys, Texas teens have unprotected sex far more often than the national average. In states and cities with "abstinence-plus" teaching policies, the rate of unprotected sex drops below the national average. Houston, for example, has an abstinence-plus teaching policy, and CDC surveys show Houston teens as below the national average for unprotected sex. Research also shows that younger children seek their parent's advice more than adolescents, who tend to depend more on their friends and the media. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your young children about issues of sexual health. Talking to your kids about issues like dating and relationships, STDs, and HIV can leave a lasting impression. This will help you provide your children with information that is accurate and reflects your personal values and principles.

Your Teen

Lithium Safe for Children, Teens with Bipolar Disorder

2:00

A new multicenter study says that lithium, a drug typically given only to adults, is safe and effective for children and adolescents who have bipolar disorder.

The study, led by a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and published Oct. 12 in Pediatrics, affirms what clinicians who prescribe this drug have observed for years and suggests that doctors can now more confidently add lithium to the available treatments for this vulnerable population -- at least in the short term, the authors say.

Lithium is one of the oldest drugs for bipolar disorder, a chronic brain condition marked by spontaneous, seesawing bouts of abnormally high moods and depression. The drug's ability to stabilize mood extremes has been well established in adults.

The researchers point out that historically, children and women of childbearing age have generally been excluded from many clinical trials out of an abundance of caution. Some believe that while the intentions may have been good, being excluded in clinical studies may actually harm this population- leaving them without access to more effective treatments.

"Lithium is the grandfather of all treatments for bipolar disorder, but it has never been rigorously studied in children," says Robert Findling, M.D., M.B.A., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Findling initiated the work while director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Though medications used to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses are prescribed to treat bipolar disorder in children, Findling says, those drugs have been linked to substantial weight gain, a considerable medical and social drawback for young people that causes many to stop taking them.

Results from the study showed that the patients on lithium experienced far more significant improvement in their symptoms over eight weeks compared with those on the placebo. Some 47 percent of those on lithium scored in the range of "very much improved" or "much improved" on the Clinical Global Impressions Scale, a rating system commonly used to assess the efficacy of treatments in patients with mental disorders, compared to 21 percent of those on the placebo.

Unlike antipsychotic agents, such as risperidone or olanzapine, lithium treatment was not associated with significant weight gain, and none of the patients experienced serious side effects due to the lithium treatment.

Findling says the findings provide a scientific and reliable confirmation of lithium's efficacy and safety for children in the short term, offering evidence that doctors can use when deciding what medication to prescribe their pediatric patients with bipolar disorder. Further analyses are currently in progress to examine the long-term implications of lithium use, he adds. Areas of particular focus include evaluation of any potential side effects, such as weight gain, reduced kidney function or diminished thyroid function -- all important considerations, as those with bipolar disorder may need a lifetime of medication and behavioral therapies.

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1 percent of teens and is the leading cause of disability in adolescence.

Source: Adapted Media Release, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/300847.php

 

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