Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Teen

“Sexting” and Teen’s Sexual Activity

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

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

But which comes first?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Teen

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

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

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

Study Shows Bipolar Disorder Can Linger Into Young Adulthood

A recent study suggests that children with bipolar disorder may continue to have bouts with the condition as young adults. The study, published in the October 2008 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, found that 44-percent of people who had the condition as children still had them in the late teens and beyond. The study, done by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, followed 108 bipolar diagnosed children for 8 years. By the end of the study, half the patients were 18 or older and 44-percent of that group continued to have episodes of mania and depression.

The study also found that while approximately 88-percent of those studied recovered from the disorder, nearly three quarters of them relapsed. More Information: Archives of General Psychiatry (Free Article) More Information: Bipolar Disorder In Children & Teens (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Your Teen

Preventing ACL injuries in Young Athletes

2.00 to read

A new report states that young athletes are more susceptible to serious and potentially debilitating knee injuries. 

An increasing number of American children and teens are tearing up their knees, particularly kids who are involved in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and gymnastics.  The most dangerous injury is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability to the knee.

Specific types of training can reduce the risk of an ACL tear by as much as 72 percent, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says.

"Neuromuscular training programs strengthen lower-extremity muscles, improve core stability and teach athletes how to avoid unsafe knee positions," lead author Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director and associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and a member of the academy's council on sports medicine and fitness, said in an academy news release.

The AAP recommends that coaches who run these types of sports programs should learn more about the exercises that can help athletes strengthen their muscles and encourage their athletes to use them.

The risk of ACL injury among young athletes increases at age 12 for girls and age 14 for boys. The largest numbers of ACL injuries occur in female athletes ages 15 to 20. After an ACL tear, girls are much more likely to have surgery and less likely to return to sports than boys, experts said.

"After puberty, girls have a 'machine motor mismatch,'" report co-author Timothy Hewett, professor and director of research at Ohio State University's sports medicine department, said in the news release. "In contrast, boys get even more powerful relative to their body size after their growth spurt. The good news is that we've shown that with neuromuscular training, we can boost the power of girls' neuromuscular engine, and reduce their risk of ACL injuries."

Before some of the newer less-invasive surgical treatments were available, surgery was often delayed until the child’s skeletal structure was fully mature. Now though, improved treatment can avoid impact to the developing growth plates, which means that they can have surgery to stabilize the knee.

Overall, ACL surgery is about 90 percent successful in restoring knee stability, according to the report published online April 28 and in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

"In many cases, surgery plus rehabilitation can safely return the athlete back to sports in about nine months," report co-author Dr. William Hennrikus, professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, said in the news release. "Parents who are considering surgery for their child should seek out a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with sports medicine training."

ACL tears can have long-lasting effects. People who suffer an ACL tear are up to 10 times more likely to develop early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis, which can lead to chronic pain and disability, the report said. "This is important, because it means athletes who suffer an ACL tear at age 13 are likely to face chronic pain in their 20s and 30s," LaBella said.

If your child participates in any of these sports, check with your child’s coach to see if they are providing the appropriate amount of muscle strengthening exercises to fortify your child’s knee support system.

If you feel they are not getting any or enough of these needed exercises, consider enrolling your child in a muscle strengthening exercise program or begin doing them together at home.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.philly.com/philly/health/topics/HealthDay687065_20140428_Training_Programs_Protect_Young_Athletes_From_ACL_Tears__Report.html#cPXEpJy1wK9xQl6s.99

Your Teen

College - Bound Vaccinations

1.45 to read

It’s finally here. From the time your child was an infant, you knew this day was coming. He or she is entering college! If your young adult is moving away, there’s shopping, packing, traveling arrangements, paperwork, dorms and good-byes filling up the precious last living-at-home days. 

New opportunities for educational, personal and professional growth are just on the other side of those academic doors. But, there’s one more thing that you need to make sure is taken care- even if your child is remaining home and going to a community or local college.

Vaccinations need to be updated. Many colleges will not allow a student to attend classes, or live in a dorm, if their vaccinations are not updated, and immunization records filed with the school.

Colleges want to know that their students have been vaccinated against the basics - Diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. But increasingly, they want to know that their students have been inoculated against bacterial meningitis.

Dorm rooms, fraternities and sororities are breeding grounds for contagious diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles can also lower a person’s immune system. Lack of sleep, unsanitary conditions, bad nutrition, drinking and exposure to cigarette smoke and drugs can put a child at risk for a host of medical problems.

Bringing these topics up is not to say that all college bound students will partake in unhealthy lifestyles, it’s simply a reminder that large populations in close quarters can put you at a higher risk for disease. That’s why colleges are becoming more adamant about student vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends college students, especially those living in dormitories, receive these vaccinations:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which helps prevent meningococcal disease. If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before going to college for maximum protection.
  • Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough.)
  • HPV vaccine, which protects against the viruses that cause most cervical cancers, anal cancer, and genital warts.
  • Seasonal flu vaccine.
  • Another vaccination to consider is the Hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against this serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver.

Be sure and check with your college to see what vaccinations are required, and ask your family doctor or pediatrician about their recommendations.

Entering college is one of those milestones in life. It’s exciting and humbling for kids and parents. Make sure your child has the vaccinations he or she needs as they enter this new world of opportunity!

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/college.htm

http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/features/vaccines-for-college-students

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