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Your Teen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/misc-tobacco-health-news-666/raise-smoking-age-to-21-u-s-pediatricians-group-urges-704535.html

Your Teen

Teens and Tanning Booths; Riskier Than Once Thought

1.45 to read

Prom, Homecoming, Pep Rallies, classrooms, malls  – many of the places you’ll find teens during the fall and winter months. As the long sun-filled days of summer fade away, the doors to tanning salons swing wide open. 

While it’s no secret that UVB rays – the ones that cause sunburn – are the main cause of skin cancer, a new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology shows that UVA rays can in fact cause a serious risk of skin cancer because they target the areas beneath the surface where cells divide to create new layers.

For the study, scientists compared the DNA-damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation by shining both types on the buttocks of 12 healthy volunteers. By cutting away small layers of skin, the researchers found that UVB rays mainly damaged the skin's top layers, but the UVA rays formed lesions on the skin's deepest layers. The study's authors say that's worrisome, because UVA rarely burns the skin, so people - in particular teens - might not realize damage being done.

The study found UVA rays are more carcinogenic than previously thought; a finding scientists say underscores how important it is to limit exposure to the sun and to tanning salons.

"The doses we used were comparable for erythema -- sunburn – for UVA and UVB. That would be roughly equivalent to the doses needed for tanning in each spectrum," said study co-author Antony R. Young, a professor at the St. John's Institute of Dermatology at King's College School of Medicine in London.

"Tanning salons still tend to claim that UVA is safe, but that's nonsense," Young told The Daily Mail, "It may be more carcinogenic than previously thought."

The main concern is preventing skin cancer, particularly melanoma, a very serious and possibly life-threatening type of skin cancer. Teens often think of skin cancer as an “old person’s disease.” In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults (ages 25 to 29). Each year, more than 50,000 people in the U.S. learn that they have melanoma.

"Indoor tanning is like smoking for your skin," said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It's the single worst thing you can do in terms of skin cancer and premature aging."

Many indoor tanning salons advertise that tanning beds can help boost the body's production of vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin because skin makes it when exposed to the sun's rays. "This is nonsense and an excuse," Day said. "We know people burn in tanning beds and that UVA and UVB are toxic."

Since March 2010, The FDA has been considering enacting a ban on tanning booth use for anyone under the age of 18. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology support a ban on the use of tanning booths by minors.

While teens may think that a tan gives them a healthy looking glow, parents and caregivers need to help them understand the dangers of tanning. Whether it’s outdoors or indoors – too much UVB / UVA rays can lead to serious health problems.  And of course, parents should teach by example. If mom and dad are spending time in the tanning booth, telling your teen to stay out is not going to have much of an impact. 

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Your Teen

Energy Drinks

Just about every store you go into these days has a shelf of energy drinks, many of them marketed towards our teenage children. “Many are marketed as energy drinks but should be called stimulant drinks” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.”

Dr. Hubbard warns that too much caffeine in a teenager’s system can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness and upset stomachs. “It can also mess up a child’s sleep cycle, which is not good” she says. Dr. Hubbard recommends that parents read the labels of the drinks their children are consuming. She also recommends that if you need to hydrate your child during sports or other physical activity, give them water or a true sports drink, like Gatorade, and not energy drinks.

Your Teen

Experts Recommend Screening All Teens for Major Depression

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Studies indicate that one-in-five U.S. children have some for of mental, behavioral or emotional problems.  Among teens, one –in- eight may suffer from depression with only about 30 percent receiving any treatment.  Those are troubling statistics for parents, caregivers and health professionals.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), believes more needs to be done to help these children and has recommended that primary care physicians screen all patients between the ages of 12 and 18 for major depression.

Screening tools are available to help primary care doctors accurately identify major depression in adolescent patients, and there are effective treatments for this age group, the task force said.

"Primary care clinicians can play an important role in helping to identify adolescents with major depressive disorder and getting them the care they need. Accordingly, the task force recommends that primary care clinicians screen all adolescents between 12 and 18 years old for this condition," task force member Dr. Alex Krist said in a USPSTF news release.

Currently, there isn’t enough evidence to know whether screening children 11 and younger would be beneficial. The task force noted that more research on depression screening and treatment in this age group is needed.

The consequences of undiagnosed and treated major depression in teens can have serious consequences such as involvement in the criminal justice system, drug or alcohol abuse and in some cases, suicide.

"It is important to take any concern about depression seriously, regardless of age, and any parent who has a concern about their child's mood or behavior should talk with their child's primary care clinician," he said in the news release. Kemper is a professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.

The recommendation was published online Feb. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

For more information about child and teen depression, one resource is The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at http://www.aacap.org.

You can also talk with your family doctor or pediatrician if you feel your child is suffering from depression. They should have resources for you as well.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160208/doctors-should-screen-teens-for-major-depression-us-task-force-says

 

 

Your Teen

Glee Star is the New Face of Heroin Addiction

2.00 to read

Headlines recently announced the death of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of the TV show “Glee.” Looking at the fresh-faced young man, you’d never suspect that he struggled with alcohol and drugs. But experts say he fits the new profile of heroin users.

Many Americans are not aware of the new realities of heroin use among kids, teens and young adults. In fact, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monteith largely fits the new profile of a heroin user: a white male in his 30s.

“I deal with drug users every day,” Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, told NBC News. “The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

Many of the young adults using heroin started when they were teenagers. Many of them live in suburbs and rural communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), documented an alarming 80 percent increase in first use of heroin among teens since 2002.

In 2009, 510 teens and young adults between 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose, up from 198 a decade earlier.

“People think it’s totally impossible that they could know somebody who could be on that trajectory,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a research scientist at the University of Washington School of Public Health who writes frequently about heroin use. Monteith, Banta-Green said, “is what a heroin user looks like.”

Heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than in the past. Where heroin was once obtained from the Far East and Southwest Asia, it is now transported into the U.S. from South America and Mexico making it much more affordable and easier to get. Heroin is also coming in from Afghanistan where production has steadily increased.

Why is heroin becoming popular among teens? One reason may be because the U.S. government has made a strong push to crack down on prescription opiates, a popular drug of choice among kids. Drugs like Oxycodone and other painkillers are now harder to get and more expensive. Heroin, on the other hand, is cheap and plentiful. It also packs a stronger punch or “rush.”

Heroin use dropped sharply during the height of the late 1980s-1990s AIDS crisis because drug users didn’t want to risk injections. Now, though, heroin is often snorted or smoked, giving it the same kind of ease of use, and even societal popularity that cocaine once had.

When a heroin user overdoses, they often just stop breathing. While most teen drug users are not typically going to be snorting or injecting heroin when they are in the middle of a crowd, they may be consuming a lot of alcohol. Once they get home they may decide to top off the evening with heroin. That can be a deadly combination especially when they are in their room and no one knows to check on them.

Too many parents think that their child doesn’t fit the typical heroin user stereotype. They are simply unaware that heroin is the new “in” drug and it’s in the schools, on the playgrounds and in the malls. Dealers may be kids that you’ve known since they were little.

The sad news of Cory Monteith’s death shocked his fans, friends and family. He reportedly had been struggling with alcohol and drug abuse since his early teens. After a recent stay in rehab, many thought he had licked his demons and was on the way to a true recovery. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. He made the decision to give heroin one more try and this time it killed him.

Heroin is extremely addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t care if you are rich, middle-class or poor. Whether you live in a mansion, a suburb or the inner city.  It treats everyone exactly the same way and it can quickly stop a heart. 

If you suspect that your child is using ANY drugs, make it your business to find out for sure. And if they are – get them the help they need to deal with whatever is causing their use. It will not make you popular, but it may save your child’s life.

Source: Brian Alexander, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/glee-stars-od-shows-new-fresh-face-heroin-6C10658371

 

Your Teen

Study: Freshman 15 Weight Gain Is Real

A new study shows that nearly one in four freshmen gain at least five percent of their body weight during their first semester.A new study shows there is some truth behind what has long been considered an urban legend about the infamous freshman 15. The study, published in Nutrition Journal, shows that nearly one in four freshmen gain at least five percent of their body weight, an average of about 10 pounds, during their first semester.

“Almost one quarter of students gained a significant amount of weight during their first semester of college,” say researchers Heidi J. Wengreen and Cara Moncur of the department of nutrition and food sciences at Utah State University in Logan. “This study provides further evidence that the transition to college life is a critical period of risk for weight gain, and college freshmen are an important target population for obesity prevention strategies.” Other studies have documented the phenomenon of the freshman 15 weight gain but researchers say few have examined the changes in behaviors that occur as students transition from high school to college that may contribute to unhealthy weight gain. The study followed 159 students enrolled at a mid-sized university in the fall of 2005. Each student’s weight was measured at the beginning and end of the fall semester, and the participants also filled out a survey about their diet, physical activity, and other health-related habits during the last six months of high school and during the first semester at college. Researchers found the average amount of weight gained during the study was modest, at about 3.3 pounds. But 23 percent of college freshmen gained at least five percent of their body weight and none lost that amount. There was no significant difference in the amount of weight gained by women and men in the study. Those who gained at least five percent of their body weight reported less physical activity during their first semester at college than in high school and were more likely to eat breakfast and slept more than those who didn’t gain as much. Previous studies have shown teens and adults who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight, and researchers say they were surprised to find that eating breakfast regularly was linked to greater weight gain in the first three months of college. They say it may reflect more frequent meals at all-you-can-eat dining facilities at college, and more research is needed to clarify this finding. “In general, our findings are consistent with the findings of others who report the transition from high school to college promotes changes in behavior and environment that may support weight gain,” they conclude.

Your Teen

E-Cigarette Use Among Teens Triples in One Year

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Marketing for e-cigarette use among teens and middle school students seems to be paying off.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, says that nearly 2.5 million middle and teen high school students are choosing to “vape.” That number represents a tripling of students using e-cigarettes from 2013 to 2014 according to the report.

E-cigarette popularity among teens has now surpassed all other tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, the reports notes.

Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the CDC, calls the increase in teen and middle school student e-cigarette use “deeply alarming.”

"We're seeing a striking increase. It's very concerning," Frieden said during a media briefing. "It more than counterbalances the decrease in cigarette smoking which we've seen over the last few years."

Many proponents of e-cigarettes say they are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes because they do not include many of the harsh ingredients that have been shown to cause lung cancer such as tar and cigarette paper chemicals.

However, they do include nicotine, which has its own set of side effects.

The brains of pre-teens and teenagers are still in a state of growth and development.  Addiction is a primary concern as well as the long-term effects nicotine can have on the developing brain.

According to Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, a monthly online journal with contributions from scientists and physicians, nicotine can have long-reaching side effects:

•       Teens do not have the brain development or emotional maturity to realize that their nicotine use impacts their health or to acknowledge the effects of nicotine dependence, and often overestimate their ability to quit whenever they choose.

•       Because teenagers' brains are still developing, their brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine, which can in turn impair them for life. Specifically, the prefrontal cortex area of the brain is affected. Teen's developing brains are particularly sensitive and experience more of a rush from nicotine than older adults and become dependent upon it more quickly.

•       With long-term use, nicotine can damage the areas of memory, cognition, and emotions that can last indefinitely through their adult lives.

This means that teens who are regular users of nicotine are at higher risk for cognitive reasoning impairment, attention deficits, and developing mental disorders such as depression, phobias, addictions, and antisocial personality.

The new CDC survey, shows e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.

Among middle school students, e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students.

Hookahs also have grown in popularity, the CDC found. Hookah smoking roughly doubled for teens, rising from about 890,000 middle and high school students in 2013 to nearly 1.6 million in 2014.

Health experts agree that more research is needed to look into the long-term effects of the chemicals used to create the vapor in e-cigarettes.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is considering regulating e-cigarettes as they do traditional tobacco products.

It may or may not be a coincidence that both marketing for e-cigarettes and teen use of e-cigarettes has tripled. Companies can advertise e-cigarettes on TV, even though commercials for cigarettes were banned in 1971. 

According to a study published last November in the journal Pediatrics, E-cigarette commercials increased 256 percent between 2011 and 2013, and more than three-fourths of teens' exposure to e-cigarette ads happened on cable channels. AMC aired the most, followed by Country Music Television and Comedy Central.

These ads are not designed to encourage teens to stop smoking, but instead to start vaping.

Should e-cigarettes regulation comes under the control of the FDA, advertising on TV most likely will stop. But by then it may be too little, too late.

Sources: Dennis Thompson, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/tobacco-and-kids-health-news-662/e-cigarette-use-triples-among-u-s-teens-in-1-year-698513.html

Kirsten Schuder, http://addiction.lovetoknow.com/smoking/effects-e-cigarettes-teenagers

Julia Glum, http://www.ibtimes.com/teens-smoking-e-cigarettes-marketing-may-be-blame-increase-number-vaping-high-school-1724105

Your Teen

Panel: All Teens Should be Tested for Depression

One of the top government-appointed medical panels is urging doctors to routinely screen all U.S. teenagers for depression. It's a bold stop that acknowledges that nearly 2 million teens are affected by depression. The panel from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which sets guidelines for doctors on a host of health issues, said most are undiagnosed and untreated.

The task is an independent panel of experts convened by the federal government to establish guidelines for treatment in primary-care. The recommendations are published in the April 2009 issue of Pediatrics. They go farther than the current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics for teen depression screening. An estimated 6 percent of American teenagers are clinically depressed. Evidence shows that detailed but simple questionnaires can accurately diagnose depression in primary-care settings such as a pediatrician's office. Because depression is so common, "you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups," said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chairman and chief medical officer for Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment. The task force said that when followed by treatment, including psychotherapy, screening can help improve symptoms and help kids cope. Because depression can lead to persistent sadness, social isolation, school problems and even suicide, screening to treat it early is crucial, the panel said. The group recommends research-tested screening tests even for kids without symptoms. It cited two questionnaires that focus on depression tip-offs, such as mood, anxiety, appetite and substance abuse. A separate report, released on the same day in Pediatrics says primary care doctors, including pediatricians and family physicians need to get more involved in mental health care. That report is from the AAP and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The group says pediatricians should routinely consult with psychiatrists, including working in the same office when possible. And it says insurers should compensate pediatricians for any mental health services they provide.

Your Teen

Head Injury Linked To Violent Behavior

2.00 to read

A new study says that children who have suffered a head injury are more likely to get into a fight or take part in other types of violent behavior. Every parent knows that childhood often comes with bumps, bruises, cuts and falls. Sometimes those accidents include head injuries. A new study says that children who have suffered a head injury are more likely to get into a fight or take part in other types of violent behavior.

The connection between head injury and violence was particularly strong if the head injury had occurred within the past year, the authors of the study note in the journal Pediatrics. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 1.7 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury every year, due to bumps, blows, jolts, or any injury that disrupts the brain's normal functioning. The study author, Dr. Sarah Stoddard with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health that- with this type of research- it is difficult to figure out if brain injury is really the root of the aggression or if some other factor is the reason. Stoddard also notes that activities like drinking, drug use ,and a history of violence didn’t seem to explain the findings. Stoddard and a colleague analyzed several years' worth of data from 850 kids in high school and followed them until five years after they left school. All of the participants had a grade point average of 3 or lower, putting them at risk for dropping out. In the fifth year of the study, 88 of the young adults said they had suffered a head injury. Of those individuals, 43 percent said they had gotten into a fight, hurt someone, or taken part in some type of violence over the following year. That compared to 34 percent of those who didn't report a head injury. The findings suggest that the more recent a head injury is, the more likely a young adult is to be aggressive. According to Stoddard, "The brain does recover over time." Stoddard also adds that researchers should investigate the long-term effects of head injuries in young people, as well as preventive measures such as protective gear for sports and interventions that help kids with head injuries manage their behaviors before they lead to violence. A different study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, of young athletes 15-to-24 years old, reveals that sports are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury to the brain. And concussions represent 10 percent of all high school athletic injuries. Previous studies have also shown that brain injuries can also cause changes in memory, reasoning, and emotions, including impulsivity and aggression. In studies with prisoners, researchers have found that those with a history of brain injuries are more likely to engage in violence. The study "does suggest there is a link between head injury and violence particularly early on," said Dr. Huw Williams, who has found the same relationship in prisoners, but was not involved in the new work. And if they believe their children experienced a brain injury in the past, they should also get expert advice on what to look for to make sure brain function doesn't deteriorate, he added. "It's important to monitor." Brain injury can range from mild to severe causing a short loss of consciousness and confusion to amnesia and coma. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that head injuries should be observed, and treatment should be sought if any of the following symptoms appear: •       A constant headache, particularly one that gets worse •       Slurred speech or confusion •       Dizziness that does not go away or happens repeatedly •       Extreme irritability or other abnormal behavior •       Vomiting more than 2 or 3 times •       Stumbling or difficulty walking •       Oozing blood or watery fluid from the nose or ears •       Difficulty waking up or excessive sleepiness •       Unequal size of the pupils (the dark center part of the eyes) •       Double vision or blurry vision •       Unusual paleness that lasts for more than an hour •       Convulsions (seizures) •       Difficulty recognizing familiar people •       Weakness of arms or legs •       Persistent ringing in the ears If your child does well through the observation period, there should be no long-lasting problems. Remember, most head injuries are mild. However, be sure to talk with your child's doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury also contains a free online training course on preventing sports-related brain injuries in young athletes.

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