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

How Much Do Distractions Impact Novice Teen Drivers?

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A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms what common sense tells us we know anyway. Newly licensed teen drivers are more likely to have a crash or near miss when they are distracted by phones, eating or other objects in the car than more experienced drivers.

But that isn’t to say that adults who get distracted while driving are safe behind the wheel.

The researchers found experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving. The study also points out that 10 percent of all U.S. drivers take their eyes off the road because they are doing something other than focusing on driving such as eating, texting, dialing a phone number, talking to another passenger, changing the radio station or searching for an object in the car.

Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said the risks of distracted driving were greatest for newly licensed teen drivers, who were substantially more likely than adults to be involved in a crash or near miss while texting or engaging in tasks secondary to driving.

Novice teen drivers were

  • Eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing.
  • Seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object.
  • Almost four times more likely when texting, and three times more likely when eating.

According to the study, talking on a cell phone did not actually increase the risk for a crash or accident among adults or teenage drivers. But, because you’ve got to reach for the phone to answer or dial a number – the risks increased greatly – during that time period.

The authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.

The bottom line is that when you or your teen are driving – pay attention to the road and other drivers. Your chances of getting safely to your destination increase substantially.

Source: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/01/US-drivers-take-eyes-off-the-road-10-percent-of-the-time/UPI-23811388634974/#ixzz2pI410fHJ

Your Teen

Hand Sanitizer Hangover?

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From the “Really?” file, another way for kids to get high and sick has emerged. This one is not a national trend … yet. And because it requires drinking something that you might normally spread on your hands after going into a public restroom, maybe it won’t catch on.

But, forewarned is forearmed. And with the Internet able to spread “challenges” at the speed of light it’s probably a good idea that parents are aware of this one.

Some teens are drinking hand-sanitizer to get high. Not surprisingly they are ending up in the emergency room incredibly drunk and sick.

Recently, six teens from the Los Angeles area were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after downing the germ killing agent.  

The Los Angeles Times reported some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer using instructions found online. If a liquid hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, that means a "drink" can be as high as 120 proof, whereas a shot of hard liquor such as whiskey or vodka is typically 80 proof.

"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "There is no question that it is dangerous."

The teens showed symptoms of slurred speech and a burning sensation in the stomach. Some of them were so drunk they had to be monitored in the emergency room.

Los Angeles emergency rooms had not reported any other cases before this sudden spurt of ER visits. The teens did not come in all together but as separate incidents. 

It’s not only Los Angeles that has seen this situation pop up in its emergency rooms. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said he has taken care of some teens who had ingested hand sanitizers at school as a "dare," only to come to the ER drunk with dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

"They denied drinking any 'alcohol', had no smell of alcohol on their breath, but when their blood alcohol was quite elevated, they later admitted to drinking the hand sanitizer," Glatter told HealthPop.

Doctors told the L.A. Times that parents should purchase foam hand sanitizers since they're harder to extract alcohol from compared with gel-based products, and they should monitor hand sanitizer bottles around the house as if they are liquor or medicine bottles.

"Over the years, they have ingested all sorts of things," Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Times. "Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it.... We want to be sure this doesn't take on the same trend."

Apparently there is no limit to what some teens will do to get a buzz on, hopefully this venture will end quickly. The yuck factor alone should help.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57420106-10391704/drinking-hand-s...

Your Teen

Headlines: Another Teen Suicide

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

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

Your Teen

Teen Inhalant Abuse Prevention Urged

A new study on teen inhalant abuse suggests a need for more prevention and treatment efforts. The study conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy shows that fewer teens are sniffing things like glue, lighter fluid, shoe polish and other easy-to-find substances. But it find the number of teens who actually abuse inhalants, as opposed to just trying them, has remained stable over a five-year period.

A government official says "most parents don't realize how dangerous inhalants can be." He said they're among the most popular and deadly substances that kids abuse. The study found that nearly 1 million American youths aged 12 to 17 used some kind of inhalant in 2007. That's about 3.9 percent of adolescents compared with 4.4 percent the previous year. The study also found that the rate of "initiation" or teens trying inhalants for the first time was also slightly lower in 2007.

Your Teen

Do Expensive Football Helmets Prevent Concussions?

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These days, parents, student athletes and coaches are much more aware of the long-term medical problems that concussions can cause. Fortunately, many efforts are being made to protect kids from head injuries.

Sports equipment companies have jumped on the bandwagon and have improved the protection their helmets and pads offer. However, some of these newer products, like football helmets, are quite expensive. Parents want to know if these more expensive football helmets actually offer more protection. According to a new study, just because a  helmet may be heavier and more expensive, it will not lower a player’s risk of concussion.

Why is that? It could be because a helmet doesn’t keep the brain from moving around in the skull. It may offer better protection against a skull fracture, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with concussion.

A study of more than 1,300 players on football teams at 36 Wisconsin high schools found that players wearing older helmets received just as much protection from concussion as players with flashy new models, said study author Timothy McGuine, senior scientist and research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Medicine Center in Madison.

"The helmet technology is advanced as it can be. They've done a wonderful job. We don't have skull fractures in football," he said. "But I don't know how much padding can be put in to prevent the brain from sloshing around inside the cranium."

This research, to be presented Saturday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Chicago, comes at a time when some sports equipment manufacturers are marketing expensive football helmets amid claims that they offer better protection against concussion than earlier models, McGuine said.

"They're all being touted as the next best thing to prevent sports injuries, and it really puts the squeeze on athletic directors and coaches," he said. "Some companies are going right to the parents and saying, 'We know it's too expensive for the school to pay for it, so you should pay for this helmet to protect your child.'"

Here’s how the study worked. Licensed athletic trainers at each of the high schools taking part in the study, kept thorough records during the 2012 football season. All safety equipment used by the athletes was noted. Data was also recorded on the numbers of games and practices each player participated in and the number of sports-related concussions.

The players wore helmets manufactured by Riddell, Schutt and Xenith.

Out of 1,332 players tracked, 115 sustained a concussion during the season, McGuine reported.

Researchers found no difference in the rate of concussion by either the type of helmet worn or the helmet's age.

"We found the actual incidence of concussion was not more for players wearing the newest helmets versus wearing helmets 3, 4 or 5 years old," McGuine said. "We also looked at [concussion] severity by helmet model. No difference there, either."

Another interesting fact also popped up during the study. Players who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard actually had a higher risk of suffering a concussion than players who wore the generic mouth-guard provided by the school.

The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine released a position statement in January that said hard sports helmets can prevent impact injuries such as lacerations or fractures but have not been shown to reduce the incidence or severity of concussions, said Dr. Anne-Felicia Ambrose, medical director of the traumatic brain injury unit in the department of rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

"In terms of equipment, there really isn't that much more we can do," Ambrose said. "Where we have a lot of potential for reducing concussion is the way the game is played."

Some experts believe that changing how games are played is more likely to prevent concussions than equipment.

For example, limiting contact between players outside of competition is one means of reducing concussions, she said. "A lot more concussions occur during practice, when coaches cannot have their eyes on everyone on the field," Ambrose said. "The chance of impact is increased."

McGuine agreed. "I don't see any reason for kids to have full tackle on practice days," he said.

Since football players are going to be wearing helmets for other safety reasons, McGuine suggests that coaches and trainers make sure that each player’s helmet is properly fitted and checked weekly.

How many high school football players receive a concussion every year during play or practice? McGuine says about 40,000. That’s a lot of concussions.

Parents want to make sure that their child is as safe as can reasonably be expected, so they are more vulnerable to high-pressure sales pitches that tout the safety of certain products. According to this study, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer, especially where concussions are concerned. 

The research presented at the meetings mentioned above, are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: Dennis Thompson, http://consumer.healthday.com

Your Teen

Fiber: Best Food Choice for Healthy Teens

1.45 to read

Looking for a way to lower your teen’s risk of developing heart disease or diabetes? Make sure they eat foods high in fiber.

 A new study shows that kids who eat a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains tend to have lower bad cholesterol (LDL), and improved blood sugar levels.

The study did not establish a link with metabolic syndrome and how much saturated fat or cholesterol teens ate. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Joe Carlson, who heads the Division of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing, told Reuters Health that kids still need to limit eating fatty foods. "We know if you eat a lot of saturated fat, or trans fat, it tends to raise (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol," Carlson was one of the researchers in the new study.

Instead, he said, it's better to aim for a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Carlson added that fiber-rich foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and other chemicals.

Here’s how the study was conducted.

Carlson and his colleagues examined the diets of over 2,000 U.S. teens ages 12 to 19. They also tested whether the teens had three or more conditions that make up metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, elevated levels of sugar and fats in the blood, low levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol and a large waistline.

"There has been quite a lot done on the link between exercise and metabolic syndrome, but not nutrition," said Carlson.

Overall, about six percent of the teens had metabolic syndrome. Of those who ate the least fiber (less than three grams per 1,000 calories), nine percent had the risk factors, compared to only three percent of those who ate the most (11 grams or more per 1,000 calories).

While the study can't prove that fiber itself was responsible for that difference, the findings resonate with current dietary guidelines, which say high-fiber diets may cut the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

"It's a warning," said Carlson.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 600,000 die of heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It used to be uncommon for a child to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Those were diseases associated with older adults. But times have changed. The childhood obesity epidemic has increased Type 2 diabetes diagnosis and heart disease.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests that a child's age plus five equals the grams of dietary fiber he or she should eat daily. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

The American Heart Association says that saturated fat intake should be less than 7 percent of total calories, trans fat intake should be less than 1 percent of total calories, and dietary cholesterol should be limited to no more than 300 mg daily. Children should also get the majority of calories from complex carbohydrates high in fiber.

While any food in moderation is acceptable, learning how to make good food choices starts long before a child becomes a teen. Parents should start educating their children about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise when they are little. And of course, being a good example is the best teacher. 

Your Teen

CDC: Summer Camp Flu Outbreaks Presage Fall Surge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says outbreaks of the H1N1 flu (swine flu) among children attending U.S. summer camps foreshadow a surge in cases this fall as students return to school. "This is just a harbinger of what we will see in the fall," Dr. Richard Besser, who led the U.S. response to the virus outbreak last spring. He tells Reuters News that the outbreaks in summer camps have been in the hundreds. Dr. Besser predicts soaring numbers of H1N1 cases compared to those seen in April when the first U.S. cases were diagnosed in California and urges health officials to plan now for the possibility of crowded hospitals, swamped emergency rooms and overwhelmed clinics.

"The magnitude of the event in the fall will be much greater (than what was experienced last spring)," Besser said. H1N1 swine flu is now so widespread that the World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped counting individual cases. So far H1N1 is characterized by mild symptoms in most patients who go on to recover without treatment within a week. The median age of sufferers has been 14 to 17 years old, although the age is increasing slightly as the number of cases increases, according to the WHO, suggesting the virus is spreading from schools into the wider community. More Information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Your Teen

Study: Decline in Teen Marijuana Use Stalls

The recent decline in marijuana use by American teenagers appears to have stalled this year according to researchers. The annual survey of U.S. teen drug use done by the University of Michigan also shows that the abuse of prescription drug use remains at worrisome levels. The study also found that cigarette smoking and alcohol use continues to decline.

According to the study, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. The survey showed that marijuana use by students in two of the three grades measured increased slightly. The researchers said 11 percent of eighth graders, 24 percent of 10th graders, and 32 percent of 12th graders reported using the drug in the prior year. Overall, 47 percent of 12th graders, 34 percent of 10th graders and 20 percent of eighth graders reported ever having used an illicit drug, the researchers said. The findings are based on a survey of more than 46,000 students from 386 U.S. schools. The survey also showed that the rate of abuse of prescription medications like Vicodin and Oxycontin has changed very little over the past six years. More Information: The University of Michigan

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