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

Teens: Fatal Car Crashes Down

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It seems like there are far too many studies reporting bad outcomes where teens are involved; too much drinking, eating, smoking and risky behaviors.

However, a recent study concludes that fatal car crashes involving teens have dropped by over half in the last decade. Researchers believe one reason may be that more teenagers are receiving driving licenses attached with restrictions.

"Many factors are probably at play, but there is wide agreement the graduated licensing programs are an important contributor to the decline in fatal crashes," lead study author Ruth Shults, an injury prevention researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in an to email to Reuters Health.

Graduated licenses may limit teens from diving at night as well as restrict how many teenage passengers can ride in a car with a teen driver.

Shults says that may be partly responsible for reducing the overall crash rate by 20 to 40 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of drivers aged 16 to 19 involved in fatal crashes fell by 55 percent to 2,568 in 2013, down from 5,724 in 2004, supported by an increase in graduated licenses programs.

The numbers may also be down because some teenagers are waiting till they are 18 to get their driving license, said Eric Teoh, a senior statistician at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia.

"An 18-year-old novice is probably more prepared maturity-wise than a 16-year-old novice," said Teoh, who wasn't involved in the study.

Many parents have changed what they look for in a car for their teenager. Newer models have better safety features - such as electronic stability to help keep the car in line if the driver loses control. That one feature alone may also be a contributing factor in fewer crashes.

Across 42 states included in the survey, the proportion of high school students who drive ranged from about 53 percent to about 90 percent, with the highest rates in the mid-western and mountain states, where population density is low. West coast states including California, Washington and Oregon were among eight excluded from the study.

In cities, fewer students drove, which may be related to family income, shorter travel distances and wider use of public transportation or alternatives such as walking or bicycling.

Nationwide in 2013, about three in four high school students 16 and older reported driving in the past month; the proportion was lower among black and Hispanic teens compared to white youth.

The economy may have also played a role in the reduction of teen drivers. Less dispensable money may have forced teens to look for alternative means such as public transportation, bicycles or walking.

"The economic downturn resulted in changes in the way people drive, with people taking fewer elective trips," said Raymond Bingham, a professor at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, who wasn't involved in the study.

Leisure trips, as opposed to driving to work or school, are associated with more crashes, Bingham said.

Whatever the reasons, it’s good to know that more of our teenage drivers are living to grow into adulthood and making it pass the turbulent adolescent years.

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/us-health-teens-drivers-crashes-idUSKBN0MZ21020150408

Your Teen

Parents Bullying Their Child to Lose Weight

2.30 to read

We’ve all read about, maybe even experienced it ourselves, children being teased, harassed and bullied if they are overweight. The heavier the child, the more intense the negative trifecta becomes. This topic often comes up when discussing classmate and peer bullying, but a new study also looks at obese or overweight children who feel bullied by adults in authority (coaches, gym instructors, teachers,) and their own parents.

Researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, gave 350 teens that had enrolled in two national weight loss camps, questionnaires to fill out. The teens were questioned about weight-based victimization including duration, location where the abuse occurred, who the perpetrators were and what kind of abuse they suffered.

Not surprisingly, results showed that a high percentage of bullying and teasing occurred at school (64%.) Most participants reported weight-based victimization for at least one year (78%) and 36% were teased and or bullied for 5 years.

The teens also noted who was responsible for the bullying. 92% said peers (classmates) and friends (70%.) Then the groups switched to the adults in their lives. PE teachers / sport coaches came in at 42%, followed by parents at 37% and teachers at 27%.

The types of teasing and or bullying were verbal teasing (75-88%), relational victimization (74-82%), cyber-bullying (59-61%) and physical aggression (33%-61%.)

Looking at these statistics, the saddest one of all is parents at 37 percent.

“What we see most often from parents is teasing in the form of verbal comments,” says Rebecca M. Puhl PhD, the study’s lead author.

Some of the remarks made to teens about their weight come from well-meaning parents who are actually trying to encourage their child to lose the extra pounds. But other studies have shown – and former teens who are now adults can verify – that teasing, harassing and bullying by parents and relatives can lead to eating disorders and psychological problems such as disordered eating (bulimia, anorexia), use of laxatives and other dangerous weight-control practices (extreme exercising), as well as depression.

Puhl advises adults to lend a supportive hand to overweight children, especially those who are already suffering from bullying at school and by friends. 

She and other experts agree that overweight children need supportive, not punitive, guidance. “Don’t blame your child for his weight. Dinner-table comments like, “Do you really need another piece of bread?” will make your child feel badly about himself, which will undermine his efforts toward health.

“Powerful biological forces maintain weight differentially in people,” explains Dan Kirschenbaum, president of Wellspring, an organization that runs weight-loss camps and boarding schools. Some people find it more difficult to lose weight because of their genetics. This applies not only to adults, but children too. It is going to require more effort and a change in how weight loss is perceived. Losing weight to fit in or to try and copy an unrealistic body type is eventually doomed to fail. Losing weight to be healthier has a much better chance of succeeding.

Tying nutrition and health to weight is a more realistic approach. You may not achieve the current “ideal”, but you will feel better and be able to be more active.

Puhl and several other experts offer parents an outline of dos and don’ts for helping their overweight or obese children in losing weight.

-        Don’t engage in “fat talk,” complaining about weight and appearance, whether it’s your own, your child’s or a celebrity’s. Saying “My thighs are so huge!” teaches your child it’s acceptable to disparage herself or himself and puts way too much emphasis on appearance, says Puhl.

-       Don’t promise your child that if only he or she loses weight, the bullying or teasing will stop. Another published study showed that the stigma around obesity often persists even after someone loses weight.

-       Don’t treat your child as if he or she has — or is — a problem that needs remedying. “This will make him feel flawed and inferior,” says Ellyn Satter, a dietitian and therapist in Madison, Wis., and author of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” Do focus on a child’s other good qualities, and encourage traits like common sense, character and problem-solving skills.

-       Don’t ignore or dismiss bullying. If you suspect or know your teen is being stigmatized, talk to her or him about it. “Questions as simple as ‘Who did you sit with at lunch?’ can open a dialogue and help determine if she has allies or support at school,” says Puhl.

-        Do explore your own biases around weight. “If parents can get past their own inner bigot and be accepting and supportive, they can be of great help to children,” says Ms. Satter. “I’ve seen kids with that secure foundation come up with their own effective solutions to the teasing.”

-        Do focus on health, not weight. “Promote a healthy environment for everyone in the home,” says Puhl, not just the child who is overweight. Serve delicious, well-balanced meals, and encourage everyone in the family to be active in ways they enjoy. Emphasize the value of healthy behaviors rather than looks.

-        Do speak directly and matter-of-factly about your child’s weight if he or she asks. Don’t try to avoid the issue with euphemisms like stocky or solid, says Ms. Satter. Instead, she advises, tell the truth but re-frame the issue, saying something like “Yes, you do have fat on your body. Why, do people tease you about it?” Children are looking for information and guidance. “You can neutralize a message that’s often meant in a derogatory way,” she says.

Some parents may believe that “tough love” is the answer. They may have been overweight when they were young, or are overweight now, and do not want their child to experience what they’ve been through. So they “remind” their child constantly about their weight. Tough love is very subjective. What I may think is tough love, may be perceived as abuse by the person I practice it on. Adults are one thing, but children may simply not have the life experience to put it in perspective. Even teens – who often think they already know everything - are dependent on adults to guide them in the right direction.

Childhood obesity is a health problem that can be reduced through family understanding, healthy and nutritious meals and shared activities. Nagging, trickery and bullying doesn’t accomplish anything positive.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Harriet Brown – New York Times

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/feeling-bullied-by-parents-about weight/?ref=health

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/19/peds.2012-1106.abstract         

 

 

Your Teen

Headlines: Another Teen Suicide

On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years.The sad and desperate story of a college student who killed himself after a roommate secretly videotaped him having sex, and streamed it live on the web has made headlines across the world.

18 year old, Tyler Clementi, was embarrassed and humiliated by the invasion of his privacy. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately, Tyler is not the only teen who thinks suicide is the only way to end his suffering. On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years. Amazingly, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. The current headlines demonstrate that it is more important than ever that parents are aware of the symptoms of depression and substance abuse.  Suicides increase substantially when the two are combined. What symptoms should I look for? - Change in eating and sleeping habits - Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities. - Violent, rebellious behavior, or running away - Drug and alcohol use. - Unusual neglect of personal appearance - Marked personality change - Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of     schoolwork - Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc. - Loss of interest in pleasurable activities. - Not tolerating praise or rewards. A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also: - Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside. - Give verbal hints with statements such as: “I won't be a problem for you much longer,”    “ Nothing matters,” “It's no use, and I won't see you again.” - Put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc. - Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression - Have signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.) What should you do if you notice these symptoms in your child? If a child or adolescent says, "I want to kill myself," or "I'm going to commit suicide,"  always take the statement seriously and immediately seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than putting thoughts in the child's head, such a question will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems. If one or more of these signs occurs, parents need to talk to their child about their concerns and seek professional help from a physician or a qualified mental health professional. With support from family and appropriate treatment, children and teenagers who are suicidal can heal and return to a healthier mental outlook.

Your Teen

Internet May Be Newest Area for Teen Tobacco Exposure

No matter how much control you exercise over your teen's TV and movie watching, they may still be receiving positive tobacco messages via the Internet.No matter how much control you exercise over your teen’s TV and movie watching, they may still be receiving positive tobacco messages via the Internet. In particular that exposure could come from popular social networking sites like MySpace and Xanga.

A new study shows the Internet is the newest place for kids to get exposure to positive messages on tobacco use. Although tobacco content was found on less than 1 percent of the pages that teens view, there were more pro-tobacco pages than anti-tobacco pages. The study appears in the July 20, 2009 online issue of Pediatrics. "We found that only a small proportion of Internet sites visited by adolescents contained tobacco messages. The significance of these messages in social networking and their impact on adolescent tobacco attitudes and use remain unclear," wrote the study's authors. According to the American Lung Association, 90 percent of smokers start smoking by their 21st birthday. Every day in the U.S., about 3,600 kids between 12 and 17 try their first cigarette and about one-third of those will become regular smokers. For the study, researchers randomly selected 346 teenagers with home Internet access. The teens allowed the study authors to track all of their page views for a 30-day period. The researchers then searched those pages for tobacco-related content. In all, the study volunteers viewed 1.2 million Web pages. Of those, 8,702 (0.72 percent) contained tobacco or smoking content. Pro-tobacco messages were found on 1,916 pages and anti-tobacco content was included on 1,572 pages. The authors said the tobacco messages were "complex or unclear" on 5,055 pages. More than half of the tobacco-related page views, 53 percent, came from social networking sites. "That kids are being exposed to tobacco products in all facets of their lives is not a surprise," said Erika Sward, director of national advocacy for the lung association. "And I'm not surprised that the tobacco companies are on the cutting edge. They're always creative in finding new ways to target and prey on kids." Sward said the good news was that the study found that not all of the content teens were viewing was pro-tobacco, but the study highlights the need for legislation regarding how tobacco products are promoted online, and that tobacco-control programs should design counter-marketing methods for the Internet.

Your Teen

Kids Injured, Dying From Dangerous Stunts

2.30 to read

Millions of people watch YouTube and other social media videos. There’s everything from music to medical procedures, comedy clips and cooking shows – you name it and there’s a video for it.

There are also videos showing teens and pre-teens choking each other and beating each other to a bloody pulp. These are videos that encourage dangerous and sometimes deadly games. It appears the more outrageous you can be, the bigger audience you’ll have.  Unfortunately a lot of kids end up in emergency rooms or worse, dead.

Last week a 15-year-old boy died while copying a YouTube video he and his friends had seen. While standing, he passed out, and fell forward crashing into an empty drinking glass. His collarbone broke the glass and a shard sliced through his interior and exterior jugular vein. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. It’s called the choking game.

The asphyxiation-to- get-high videos are popular with young adults, teens and even preteens.

Other popular “games” include jumping off a moving vehicle, salt and ice, extreme fighting, the cinnamon challenge and hitting someone over the head with a folding chair.

Dr. Thomas Abramo, the chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he sees all of it in his ER. Although teens have acted on risky behavior fads throughout his 30-year career, he said he's seeing trends catch on faster than ever before, and he thinks it's because of YouTube and social media.

"If you get one kid doing it, you tend to see more kids doing it," said Abramo, who said two of his patients have died playing the choking game. "The spread of the event is definitely faster."

One challenge that scares Abramo involves being hit on the head with a bench or a folding chair to "see if you can take it," he said. A lot of the time, they can't.

"Fractures, concussions, lacerations," Abramo said. "Just the things you would think would happen."

"Once you see some of these videos, you go, 'Oh my God,'" the doctor said. The "Darwin award" videos, which involve varying dangerous challenges, are the worst he's seen. "Survival of the stupidest. I can't believe it happens. It defies logic," Abramo said.

 YouTube says its guidelines prohibit videos that encourage dangerous behaviors, but they depend on viewers to flag objectionable posts before they are removed.

"We count on our users to flag content they believe violates the rules," a YouTube spokesman said. "We review flagged videos around the clock and remove all those that violate our policies."

That policy doesn’t seem to be working very well because there are plenty of these videos to watch.

Dr. Alan Hilfer, a child psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center, said he thinks the existing videos validate risky behavior for teens and give them a way to get notoriety if they post a video. He said he hears a lot about YouTube's amateur ultimate fighting videos, which show teen fights with are no rules -- just bare knuckles.

Videos of kids self-mutilating and encouraging eating disorders are also being posted on social media sites.

However, Dr. Carol Bernstein, a psychiatry professor at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said she doesn't think YouTube alone is to blame for teens engaging in challenges that could seriously injure them because many factors are involved. She said other environmental factors, physiology, and temperament contribute to a child's decision to emulate a video.

"Stress here should be on knowing our children, watching behaviors and having conversations with them," Bernstein said. "There's no substitute for parents and teachers who are engaging with their kids in general."

Many parents don’t know that their kids are acting out these videos until their child is injured. But not all parents are unaware.  A mother in St. Louis was arrested after posting a video of her young children beating each other.  You could hear her egging them on in the background. Fortunately she’s the exception rather than the rule.

Most parents are concerned about their kids doing drugs or drinking alcohol but they should add dangerous games to the list of topics to talk to their kids about.

"Adolescence is, developmentally, a time when young people experiment with cigarettes and other behaviors that aren't so smart for their health," says John Santelli, MD, MPH, president of the American Society of Adolescent Health and a Columbia University pediatrics professor. "Some of the consequences can be pretty tragic with these dangerous games."

Webmd.com provides a list of the “7 Dangerous Games Parents Must Know About” as well as tips for how parents can approach their kids about the subject.

Keep the lines of communication open and talk to your child about what videos he or she and their friends are watching. Ask them what they like about the videos to get a feel for what excites them.    

Experts suggest that you know what websites your kids are viewing and discuss stories that feature kids who have gotten hurt carrying out these types of games. Ask them what they think about this kind of behavior and listen carefully to what they say. Their answers may surprise you.

Make it a point to learn about these dangerous games. You can’t protect your child from everything that our high-tech society is throwing at them, but understanding what is going on in their teen and pre-teen world can help you be aware of what may be trying to influence them. That’s a start.

Sources: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dangerous-stunts-youtube-hurting-killing-teens/story?id=17342485#.UGZxZbQuqcN

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/dangerous-games-parents-must-know-about

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

Underage Drinking Deaths Not Just Traffic Related

2.00 to read

Because of all the publicity, you might naturally think that most underage drinking deaths are related to driving while intoxicated. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) wants parents to know that the dangers of underage drinking are even greater off the roadways.

MADD analyzed 2010 data from the FBI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on deaths related to underage alcohol use.

What they found may surprise you. The study showed that only 32 percent of underage drinkers died from traffic related deaths. 68 percent were from other causes. Researchers found that 30 percent died from homicides, 14 percent from suicide, 9 percent from alcohol poisoning and 15 percent from “other” causes.

"As parents, we are definitely aware of the dangers of drinking and driving," says MADD national President Jan Withers. "I think we're not as educated about all the dangers that drinking before age 21 can be related to. And they're very, very real."

Child health experts agree that talking with your child about alcohol use should begin before they are at the age where temptation and availability are present. That can range anywhere from pre-teen to college age. It’s never too late to have that discussion.

Sometimes parents mistakenly believe that if a child is introduced to alcohol drinking in the home that it’s much safer for them. They believe that their kids are in a controlled environment and not on the road afterwards. But as the analysis shows, being on the road isn’t the only concern parents should be thinking and talking about.  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that one-quarter of people ages 12-20 (9.7 million children) reported drinking within the previous month. Among those who did not illegally buy booze themselves, 21.4 percent were supplied alcohol from parents, guardians or other adult family members.

Bill Windsor, Nationwide Insurance’s associate vice president of consumer safety said "Parents think, 'If they do it here, they won't do it somewhere else,' " he says. "But that's just not the case. It's important for parents to know that there is a significant danger here and it goes deeper than just taking away the car keys."

Studies and surveys have shown that kids who drink do worse in school, get pregnant at higher rates, are more likely to carry out or be the victim of physical or sexual assault, engage is high risk behaviors, and have a higher frequency of alcoholism later in life.

On MADD’s website blog, Debbie Taylor writes about her decision to ignore a bottle of rum her teen-age son, Casey, had hidden in the garage. She knew he drank occasionally with his friends, but “put it off as ordinary teenage stuff.” She had already talked to him about drinking and driving, telling him the risks were too great. He seemed to understand and take it to heart.

Four months after she found the rum, he died of alcohol poisoning. He had been hanging out and drinking with his friends.

She writes on her blog, “If only I had talked with Casey about the dangers of underage drinking and told him that I didn’t want him drinking at all until he was 21!  I had blinders on when it came to alcohol, youth, peer influences and the dangers that come with the independent, recklessness and perceived invincibility of youth.  I had the illusion that outside influences weren’t a big factor—what they saw on TV or in the movies, or how friends or family could influence his actions.   The myths we tell ourselves—“we did it when we were young and nothing bad happened” and “it’s normal, everyone does it”, “it’s a rite of passage” or “it’s harmless experimentation and how else are they going to learn,” are all false!  We need to change our thinking and the drinking culture that is so prevalent in our communities”.

All the thoughts a grieving parent would have after such a tragedy.

Follow Debbie’s advice and have that important conversation with your own child about alcohol. Not just about drinking and driving but all the dangers associated with drinking. Keep having it until they understand. Kids are most influenced by two factors - peers and parents. Use that power to inform and influence your child’s thinking and actions. That’s all you can do. The rest is up to them.

 Sources: Larry Copeland, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/17/underage-drinking-madd-alcohol/2070405/

http://www.madd.org/blog/

Your Teen

Early Puberty and Bone Health

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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.

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