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Your Teen

Shampoos & Cosmetics Loaded With Chemicals May Be Harming Teen Girls

2:00

The trend in chemical-free cosmetics and shampoos may be a healthier choice for everyone, particularly teen-age girls. A new study found that common hormone-disrupting chemicals found in many shampoos and cosmetics, may have a negative impact on the reproductive development of adolescent girls. 

Chemicals widely used in personal care products -- including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone -- have been shown to interfere with the hormone system in animals, the researchers explained. These chemicals are found in many fragrances, cosmetics, hair products, soaps and sunscreens.

"Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals," said study lead author Kim Harley. She is associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Teen girls may be at particular risk since it's a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman," Harley added in a university news release.

Researchers noted that cosmetic and personal care products are not well regulated in the United States, so it’s difficult to get good data on their health effects.

However, there is increasing evidence linking hormone-disrupting chemicals with behavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth, the researchers said.

"We know enough to be concerned about teen girls' exposure to these chemicals. Sometimes it's worth taking a precautionary approach, especially if there are easy changes people can make in the products they buy," Harley said.

The study involved 100 Hispanic teens that used make-up, shampoo and lotion products labeled chemical-free. The girl’s urine was analyzed before and after the three - day trial. The participants showed a significant drop in levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies.

Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period. Methyl and propyl parabens, used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively.

Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), found in some sunscreens under the name oxybenzone, fell 36 percent.

Kimberly Parra, study co-director, said it was important to involve local youth in the design and implementation of the study.

“The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level, but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities,” she said. “After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.”

Many of the chemical-free products cost more than regular shampoos and cosmetics, tempting college students and younger teen families to choose the less expensive brands.

However, splurging more on products with fewer chemicals may pay off in the future, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/teens-cosmetics-chemicals-708646.html

Sarah Yang, http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/teen-girls-see-big-drop-chemical-exposure-switch-cosmetics

 

 

 

Your Teen

Overweight Girls Start Periods At Earlier Age

1.45 to read

Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.It's nothing new that girls are getting younger and younger when they have their first period, but experts worry that the current obesity epidemic could be fueling that trend.

Overweight or obese girls get their first period months earlier than their normal-weight peers, according to a Danish study. Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. About 17 percent of American kids and teens are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the study, researchers used information on body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight in relation to height -- and age at first period from about 3,200 Danish girls born between 1984 and 1987. The girls started their period just after they had turned 13, on average, which is about half a year later than in the U.S. Keim said part of the reason for this difference may be that African-Americans tend to start their periods before white girls. On average, a girl got her period about 25 days earlier for every point her BMI increased. For a female of about average height and weight, a one-point change in BMI is equivalent to about six pounds. Overweight and obese girls, for example, got their period three to five months before normal-weight girls, said Anshu Shrestha, a graduate student at UCLA School of Public Health, who worked on the study. There has been past research showing a link between BMI and when girls start menstruating. However, since this study was done more recently, it shows that the link is holding up in today's generation, Keim said. The researchers also found that a girl's mother's weight was related to when her daughter started menstruating, but less so than earlier work had hinted. For every point her mother's BMI when pregnant went up, the girl's period came about a week earlier, according to the new study, which was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Keim said the Danish findings reinforce the importance of keeping a healthy weight. "It's important for your entire life, starting from very early on," she told Reuters Health. "And it can even affect your children's health." Talking to your daughter about Menstruation. Most girls begin to menstruate when they're about 12, but periods are possible as early as age 8. That's why explaining menstruation early is so important. But menstruation is an awkward subject to talk about, especially with preteen girls, who are often embarrassed by this discussion. So what's the best way to approach this ticklish topic? If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, answer them openly and honestly. Provide as many details as you think she needs at the time. It's OK to let your daughter set the pace, but don't let her avoid the topic entirely. If she's not asking questions as she approaches the preteen years, it's up to you to start talking about menstruation. Don't plan a single tell-all discussion. Instead, talk about the various issues - from basic hygiene to fear of the unknown - in a series of short conversations. Consider it part of a continuing conversation on how the human body works. Remember, your daughter needs good information about the menstrual cycle and all the other changes that puberty brings. If her friends are her only source of information, she may hear some nonsense and take it for fact. To introduce the subject of menstruation, you might ask your daughter what she knows about puberty. Clarify any misinformation and ask what questions she might have. It may be helpful to time your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your daughter is receiving in school, or you could broach the subject before a routine doctor's appointment. You can tell your daughter that the doctor may ask her whether she's gotten her period yet. Then ask if she has any questions or concerns about menstruation. Girls might prefer to learn about menstruation from a female family member, but sometimes that's not possible. If you're a single father and you're not comfortable talking about menstruation, you might delegate these conversations to a female relative or friend. The key is to make sure the information is relayed somehow. The biology of menstruation is important, but most girls are more interested in practical information about periods. Your daughter may want to know when it's going to happen, what it's going to feel like and what she'll need to do when the time comes. - What is menstruation? Menstruation means a girl's body is physically capable of becoming pregnant. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn't fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a period. - Does it hurt? Many girls have cramps, typically in the lower abdomen, when their periods begin. Cramps can be dull and achy or sharp and intense. Exercise, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever may help ease any discomfort. - When will it happen? No one can tell exactly when a girl will get her first period. Typically, however, girls begin menstruating about two years after their breasts begin to develop. Many girls experience a thin, white vaginal discharge about one year before menstruation begins. - What should I do? Explain how to use sanitary pads or tampons. Many girls are more comfortable starting with pads, but it's OK to use tampons right away. Remind your daughter that it may take some practice to get used to inserting tampons. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your daughter to experiment until she finds the product that works best for her. - What if I'm at school? Encourage your daughter to carry a few pads or tampons in her backpack or purse, just in case. Many school bathrooms have coin-operated dispensers for these products. The school nurse also may have supplies. - Will everyone know that I have my period? Assure your daughter that pads and tampons aren't visible through clothing. No one needs to know that she has her period. - What if blood leaks onto my pants? Offer your daughter practical suggestions for covering up stains until she's able to change clothes, such as tying a sweatshirt around her waist. You might also encourage your daughter to wear dark pants or shorts when she has her period, just in case. Your daughter may worry that she's not normal if she starts having periods before, or after, friends her age do, or if her periods aren't like those of her friends. But menstruation varies with the individual. Some girls have periods that last two days, while others have periods that last more than a week. It can even vary this drastically from month to month in the same girl. The amount of blood lost each month can vary, too, usually from 4 to 12 teaspoons (about 20 to 60 milliliters). It's also common for girls to have irregular periods for the first year or two. Some months might even go by without a period. Once your daughter's cycle settles down, teach her how to track her periods on a calendar. Eventually she may be able to predict when her periods will begin. Schedule a medical checkup for your daughter if: - Her periods last more than seven days - She has menstrual cramps that aren't relieved by over-the-counter medications - She's soaking more pads or tampons than usual - She's missing school or other activities because of painful or heavy periods - She goes three months without a period or suspects she may be pregnant - She hasn't started menstruating by age 15 The changes associated with puberty can be a little scary. Reassure your daughter that it's normal to feel apprehensive about menstruating, but it's nothing to be too worried about and you're there to answer any questions she may have.

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

Teens Suffering from FOMA (Fear of Missing Out)

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Alyssa Navarro, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/104417/20151109/fomo-leads-to-depression-and-anxiety-in-teen-social-media-users.htm

 

Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do

2:30

Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon, http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html

Your Teen

More Teens Texting While Driving

New study more teens are texting while driving.

One third of teens ages 16 and 17 say they have texted while driving a new study shows. That same study also shows that 48 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 say they have been in a car while the driver was texting.The study was conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Pew senior research specialist Amanda Lenhart said she was surprised "to hear (from teens) about how it’s often parents or other adults who are doing the texting or talking and driving, and how for many teens, this is scary or worrisome behavior." For its Teens and Distracted Driving study, Pew surveyed 800 teens ages 12 to 17 between June and September. The non-partisan organization also conducted nine focus groups with 74 additional teens in the cities of Ann Arbor, Mich., Denver, Atlanta and New York between June and October, in conjunction with the University of Michigan. "Much of the public discussion around these behaviors has focused on teens as young, inexperienced drivers, but some of the adults in these young peoples' lives are clearly not setting the best example either," said Mary Madden, a Pew senior research specialist who also worked on the survey. "Teens spoke not only of adults texting at the wheel, but also fumbling with GPS devices and being distracted because they're talking on the phone constantly," she said. "And the reactions from the teens we spoke with ranged from being really scared by these behaviors to feeling as though it wasn't a big deal." Among other findings from the Pew survey:
  • 52 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who have cell phones say they have talked on their phones while driving.
  • 34 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who text say they have done so while driving.
  • 48 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver "used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger."
  • 75 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, and 66 percent of them send or receive text messages.
Boys and girls are "equally likely to report texting behind the wheel," Pew said, and while a third say they do so, "texting at the wheel is less common than having a conversation on the phone while driving." Pew did not further ask whether that driving and talking on the phone was being done hands-free. The teens in the focus groups had various reasons for texting and driving at the same time, Pew said, including "the need to report their whereabouts to friends and parents, getting directions and flirting with significant others." Some teens "felt as though they could safely manage a quick exchange of texts while the car was stopped. One high-school-aged boy shared that he would text 'only at a stop sign or light, but if it's a call, they have to wait or I'll hand it to my brother or whoever is next to me.' "

 

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

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

E-Cigarettes Luring Non-Smoking Teens to Regular Cigarettes

2:00

E-cigarettes have not decreased teen cigarette smoking and may be enticing adolescent non-smokers to take up tobacco products, according to a new study.

Youth smoking has steadily declined over the past decade, with no steeper decrease after e-cigarettes debuted on the U.S. market in 2007, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

“There is strong evidence in adults, together with some, but more limited evidence in youth, that e-cigarettes are associated with less, not more quitting cigarettes,” said study co-author Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The fact is that for kids, as with adults, most e-cigarette users are 'dual users,' meaning that they smoked cigarettes at the same time that they smoked e-cigarettes,” Glantz added by email to Reuters.

For the past decade, some public health officials have been concerned that e-cigarettes may lure a new generation into nicotine addiction. Others have been willing to see if the nicotine producing gadgets might actually help smokers quit cigarettes.

During the study period, the overall percentages of teens that reported any smoking decreased from 40 percent to 22 percent.

The proportion of youth who identified themselves as current smokers dropped from 16 percent to about 6 percent during the same period.

But teen cigarette smoking rates did not decline faster after the arrival of e-cigarettes in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009.

And combined e-cigarette and cigarette use among adolescents in 2014 was higher than total cigarette use in 2009, the study found.

Researcher also looked at the traits that typically go hand –in-hand with youth cigarette smokers such as living with a smoker or wearing clothing with tobacco products or logos.

While teen cigarette smokers in the study often appeared to fit this profile, adolescents who used only e-cigarettes didn’t display these risk factors.

This suggests that some low-risk teens might not use e-cigarettes if they were not an option, the authors noted.

The authors said that the study was not a controlled experiment to see if e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking cigarettes. They also noted that they lacked data on teens that dropped out of school and might have a higher rate of tobacco use than kids that remained in school.

However, this lengthy study suggests teens that use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking, says Dr, Thomas Wills, interim director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the university of Hawaii Cancer in Honolulu.

“E-cigarette advocates have tried to argue that this is only because those teens who used e-cigarettes were high-risk people who were going to smoke anyway and their e-cigarette use had nothing to do with this,” Wills, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email.

“A number of studies have now specifically examined this hypothesis,” Wills added. “In each case, the empirical results went against the confounding hypothesis, so we can be confident that the effect of e-cigarettes for contributing to uptake of smoking is a real effect and is not just due to a group of high-risk persons.”

The USDA banned selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 in August of 2016. The regulations also require photo IDs to buy e-cigarettes, and ban retailers from handing out free samples or selling them in all-ages vending machines.

The rules also cover other alternative forms of tobacco like cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.

Seeing a surge in use, U.S. big tobacco companies are now in the business of developing e-cigarettes with flavors. These are the type of e-cigarettes that generally attract younger people.

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-e-cigarettes-idUSKBN158009

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