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

Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Firm parents keep teen drivers safe. No more texting in the car while driving.Your parenting style can make a huge difference in your teen's safety once he or she gets behind the wheel of a car.

Parents who set firm rules, but do so in a helpful, supportive way, can reduce the likelihood of their teen getting into an auto accident by half and decrease rates of drinking and driving, two new studies find. Positive rule-setting can also increase the odds a teen will wear a seatbelt and lessen the likelihood of talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. "Parent involvement really matters. Active parenting can save teenagers' lives," said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Parents who give rules, set boundaries and monitor those boundaries with warmth and support can have a really dramatic effect on teen driving safety." Ginsburg is the lead author of two studies published online in Pediatric. Both studies were sponsored by State Farm Insurance. The first study looked at the association between parenting styles and teen driving behaviors and attitudes, while the second assessed teen behavior based on their access to a vehicle. It included a nationally representative sample of 5,665 teens in 9th through 11th grades. Parenting style was reported by the teens and fell into one of four categories: authoritative (high support along with rules and monitoring); authoritarian (low support with rules and monitoring), permissive (high support with low rules and monitoring), and uninvolved (low support and low rules). Teens who had authoritative or authoritarian parents wore seatbelts twice as often as teens with uninvolved parents. Teens with parents in these groups were also half as likely to speed as those with uninvolved parents. Teens with authoritative parents -- high support and rules -- were half as likely to get into a car accident, 71 percent less likely to drink and drive, and 29 percent less likely to talk or text on their cell phones while driving compared to teens with uninvolved parents. The second study included 2,167 teens and found that 70 percent had "primary access" to a vehicle. That didn't necessarily mean that the teens had their own cars, Ginsburg said, but it could mean they had easy access to the keys and didn't need to ask permission to take a family car. After controlling the data to account for the extra hours these teens likely spent behind the wheel, the researchers found that teens with easy access to a vehicle were more than twice as likely to crash, about 25 percent more likely to use a cell phone while driving and about 25 percent more likely to speed than teens who had to ask permission to use a car. Why the difference? Ginsburg said he suspects it's because teens with easy access to a car don't necessarily feel as accountable. They don't have anyone asking where they're going or whom they'll be with. "They miss out on that conversation and appropriate monitoring," he said. Parents should control the keys to the car for at least the first six to 12 months of driving, he added. Ginsburg said there are clear rules that must always be followed, and rules that will change as your teen gains experience and demonstrates responsibility. Those rules include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Never speed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Never drive fatigued.
  • Never use your cell phone or text while driving.

Rules that can change as your child gains experience and skill include having passengers, driving at night, increased access to the car and driving in bad weather. Ginsburg said it's important to make sure there's a reward for your teen for good driving behavior. "There has to be something in it for them," he said. Most parents worry more about sex, drugs and drinking than they do about driving, but car crashes are the biggest threat to teen safety, Ginsburg added. "The great news is that parents really matter. And, when you stay involved and do so in a way that promotes safety, not control, driving becomes the greatest opportunity to promote their children's safety.

Your Teen

Concussions: Boys and Girls May Have Different Symptoms

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The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often.A new study of high school athletes, finds that boys and girls who suffer concussions, may differ in their symptoms. The findings suggest that boys are more likely to report amnesia and confusion/disorientation, whereas girls tend to report drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise more often. "The take-home message is that coaches, parents, athletic trainers, and physicians must be observant for all signs and symptoms of concussion, and should recognize that young male and female athletes may present with different symptoms," said R. Dawn Comstock, an author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. More than 60,000 brain injuries occur among high school athletes every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more males than females participate in sports, female athletes are more likely to suffer sports-related concussions, the researchers note. For instance, girls who play high school soccer suffer almost 40 percent more concussions than their male counterparts, according to NATA. The findings suggest that girls who suffer concussions might sometimes go undiagnosed since symptoms such as drowsiness or sensitivity to noise "may be overlooked on sideline assessments or they may be attributed to other conditions," Comstock said. For the study, Comstock and her co-authors at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, examined data from an Internet-based surveillance system for high school sports-related injuries. The researchers looked at concussions involved in interscholastic sports practice or competition in nine sports (boys' football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and baseball and girls' soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball) during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years at a representative sample of 100 high schools. During that time, 812 concussions (610 in boys and 202 in girls) were reported. During the first year of the study, the surveillance system included only the primary concussion symptom for each athlete. In the second year, high school athletic trainers were able to record all the symptoms reported by the concussed athlete. In both years, headache was the most commonly reported symptom and no difference was noted between the sexes. However, in year one, 13 percent of the males reported confusion/disorientation as their primary symptom versus 6 percent of the girls. Also in the first year, amnesia was the primary symptom of 9 percent of the males but only 3 percent of the females. In the second year, amnesia and confusion/disorientation continued to be more common among males than females. In addition, 31 percent of the concussed females complained of drowsiness versus 20 percent of the males, and 14 percent of the females said they were sensitive to noise, compared with just 5 percent of the males. Concussion researcher Gerard A. Gioia, chief of pediatric neuropsychology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., called the findings "relatively subtle" and "at best hypothesis-generating, meaning they are suggestive but in no way conclusive." Gioia said one of the study's limitations is that the reporting system didn't explain about how the injuries occurred. "The presence of increased amnesia and confusion, two early injury characteristics, in the males suggests that the injuries between the males and females may have been different," he said. Future studies will likely address this theory, said Comstock, now that the surveillance system has been expanded to include much more detailed information. Preliminary data suggest, for instance, that football players tend to get hit on the front of the head, while girls who play soccer or basketball often suffer a blow to the side of the head, she said. The findings will also be published in the January issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

Your Teen

Pelvic Inflammation Puts Girls at Risk For More Infections

Teenage girls treated for pelvic inflammatory disease become highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections sometimes just weeks or months after treatment.Teenage girls treated for pelvic inflammatory disease become highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections sometimes just weeks or months after treatment according to researchers, The results of a study done at Johns Hopkins Children's Center are published in the November 2008 issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The four-year study included 80 inner city girls from Baltimore, ages 15 to 21 who were diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and returned for follow-up. Of those girls, 34 percent were diagnosed with at least one sexually transmitted infection (STI) over a six-month period.

Researchers say their findings suggest that treating PID "with prescription and a brochure" isn't enough to change behavior and prevent future repeat infections. "Because our findings show PID is not a single isolated incident, doctors should look for ways to change behaviors in girls and not just treat the acute clinical episode. We are talking counseling, we are talking strict follow-up, and, most importantly, we need to develop new strategies that actually work," lead investigator Dr. Maria Trent, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, said in a Hopkins news release.

Your Teen

More Teens Smoking With Hookahs

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I suppose this could fall into the “everything old is new" category. A recent study says that hookah smoking is gaining in popularity among teens. Actually, I thought hookahs went out with the sixties, but apparently they are making a dramatic come back. In fact, the study says that nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors used the popular water pipe sometime during the last year.

The study’s findings reflected earlier research that showed teens of families in the higher economic strata were more likely to use hookahs as well as males, white students, those who already smoke cigarettes, and those who had previously used alcohol, marijuana or other illicit substances.

The national data sampled 5,540 high-school seniors between 2010 and 2012.

"When it comes to cigarette smoking, at least now, we tend to think of it as more associated with lower socioeconomic status and lower parental education," says lead study author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. That was the exact opposite for students most likely to engage in using hookahs, he says.

"Given the cost of frequenting hookah bars, it is not surprising that wealthier students, as indicated by higher weekly income, are more regular visitors, although it remains unknown what proportion of hookah use occurs in hookah bars versus in homes or other noncommercial settings," the study noted.

Data for the study came from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future survey, which recently reported that hookah smoking among high-school seniors in the past year rose to 21%.

Many people think that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking. But that’s not true says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It notes that many of the same cigarette smoking health risks apply to hookah smoking.

Other research shows hookahs — which use specially made tobacco known as shisha, available in a variety of fruit and candy flavors — deliver tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide in even higher doses than cigarettes.

A 2005 World Health Organization report said that a water-pipe smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes.

Some non-tobacco hookah products claim that they can be used without the health risks of tobacco products. The CDC says studies of tobacco-based and herbal versions of shisha show that smoke from both types "contain carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease."

Another myth associated with hookahs is that the water used in a hookah acts as a filter to remove harmful ingredients. Not so say heath experts.

Many modern hookahs have imaginative designs and are brightly colored. They are coolly intended to attract a younger generation of customers. 

There are also new products such as electronic smoking devices known as hookah pens, hookah sticks and e-hookahs that have recently come on the market may be the next step in "normalizing" hookah use and making it seem like the cool thing to try and many are falling for it.

So, you might want to talk to your teen about hookahs and hear what they have to say. I’m betting there are a lot of misconceptions about the health risks of hookah smoking especially if it contains non-tobacco products.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Michelle Healy, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/07/hookah-use-high-school-seniors/12074889/

Your Teen

Concussions May Have Long-Term Effects

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By now most people know that concussions can be dangerous. A new study suggests that children who suffer concussions may be more susceptible to long-term effects from their injury.

Researchers studied 30 children between the ages of 10 and 17 years old. Bran scans and cognitive tests were performed. Half of the children had recently suffered concussions in which they'd lost consciousness and shown an altered mental state.

Children who had suffered concussions showed small deficits in their cognition and changes in their brains' white matter, compared with those who hadn't suffered brain injuries. White matter consists of nerve fibers surrounded by the insulating fat called myelin. These results were found 2 weeks after their injuries.

Three months later, brain scans showed that the children who had suffered concussions still had changes in their white matter.

"These findings may have important implications about when it is truly safe for a child to resume physical activities that may produce a second concussion, potentially further injuring an already vulnerable brain," study researcher Andrew Mayer, of the University of New Mexico, said in a statement.

Studies with adults who have had concussions have shown that the brain’s white matter changes, but this study showed that the damage to white matter in children who had concussions was greater. Mayer said that children may be more susceptible to the effects of brain injuries.

Dr. Christopher Giza, a brain injury researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said future studies should investigate whether the structural changes revealed in the brain scans have clinical implications for kids. Giza was not involved in the study.

"Further work is needed to determine whether the changes in white matter present at four months represent a prolonged recovery process or permanent change in the brain," Giza said in a statement.

Previous studies have shown that teens who suffer concussions may also have memory problems up to six months after being injured.

Concussions can vary from slight to severe. Someone with a concussion may lose consciousness, but this doesn't happen in every case.

Common symptoms of a concussion are:

  • A change in level of alertness
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • A bad headache
  • Confusion
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
  • Difficulty with coordination or balance (such as being able to catch a ball or other easy tasks)
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling anxious or irritable for no apparent reason

After a concussion, the brain needs time to heal. Recovery time will depend on how long the symptoms last. It's very important for kids to wait until all symptoms have ended before resuming normal activities. Physical symptoms, balance and coordination, and thinking and personality all should return to the pre-injury level.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Sources: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/3357-concussions-kids-effects-brain-injuries.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/aches/concussions.html#

Your Teen

ECG Could Save Teen Lives

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A new study reveals EKG testng could save lives. You’ve read the stories. A teenager suddenly dies during a basketball game, a football game, after running track- now a new study suggests that thousands of teen lives could be saved by doctors recommending that teens have electrocardiograms.

Electrocardiograms (ECGs) record the electrical activity in the heart and can identify people who are risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The study's lead researcher, Dr. Joseph Marek, founder and medical director of the Midwest Heart Foundation in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. said "I think we should do this testing and find the kids who are at risk for sudden death and potentially save their lives," ECGs are especially important for teens who are going to take part in sports, he said. "To me as a parent, this is a no-brainer," Marek said. "I think doctors should be recommending ECGs to their teen patients." Not everyone agrees, however. One of the main objections to doing extensive ECG testing has been cost, but Marek said the tests in his study cost less than $10 each. For the study, his team raised money for the testing through community donations. Marek said that some also feared that testing teens would swamp the medical system because the rate of abnormal heart rhythms among young adults was thought to be in the 10 percent to 40 percent range. But, he said, "our study shows that number is well under 3 percent," so that idea "doesn't hold water." "ECG testing of young adults is certainly feasible," he said. Many physicians do recommend that children, particularly young athletes, have a  medical history taken, and the child or adolescent  receive a complete and thorough medical exam. This exam should include blood pressure measurements, and a careful cardiac exam looking for new murmurs.  Symptoms such as palpitations during exercise, visual changes, fainting while exercising or immediately after exercise, and chest pain should all warrant further evaluation. Pediatrician, Sue Hubbard M.D. of Dallas, Texas says “The history that should be taken on any athlete who is being screened for sports participation should include a history of any unexplained or sudden death in a family member. Are there any family members with unexplained fainting episodes or seizures? Are there family members who had unexplained deaths such as drowning or single car accidents?   Are there any family members with a known genetic disorder that predisposes to sudden cardiac death?  The history should also ask about any fainting (syncope) in the athlete.” According to Marek’s study more than 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest, including an estimated 2,000 young adults. “Sudden cardiac death in young adults can be identified before they have a catastrophe in a cost-effective manner by doing ECG testing." Says Marek. Marek's research team gave ECGs to 50,665 teens, 14 to 18 years old, including athletes and non-athletes between 2006 and 2010.  The study was done in 32 schools, in Chicago, while the teens were attending school. The screening identified 1,096 teens with abnormal ECGs, indicating a heart irregularity that could result in sudden cardiac death. Of those teens, 150 were found to have left ventricular hypertrophy, which can lead to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death. Another 145 had a condition called prolonged QTc, which could indicate long QT syndrome, also linked to sudden cardiac death. A similar study done in Italy over a 26-year period found that ECG screening cut the number of cardiac deaths by 89 percent, Marek said. The findings of the study were to be presented in San Francisco at the Heart Rhythm Society's annual scientific sessions. Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, the associate chief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, medical school said that "sudden cardiac death in the young can have devastating impact on families, care providers and the community." Though some of the abnormalities that cause these deaths can be detected by screening ECGs, Fonarow said, "the routine use of screening ECGs in the young is controversial." "Further studies of ECG screening are needed to evaluate the resource requirements, reliability, reproducibility, effectiveness of preventing sudden cardiac arrest and potential harmful effects of screening," he said. If your child participates, or plans on participating in competitive sports, make sure he or she has a complete physical exam that includes a good family history. Also check to see if your school has an automatic external defibrillator available, and that there are trained personnel, on hand, that know how to use it.

Your Teen

Binge Drinking May Damage Teens’ Brains

A new MRI-based study shows that when teens go on a binge drinking episode, they may be doing serious damage to the sensitive "white matter" in their brains. This means that damaged caused to the developing brain by bouts of heavy drinking could affect thinking and memory, even lowering school performance.

White matter is a main part of the central nervous system and is necessary for passing messages between different areas of gray matter within the nervous system. Although white matter impairment has been seen in the brains of adult alcoholics, "we were somewhat surprised that these adolescents who had histories of binge drinking showed significantly poorer quality of their white matter," said lead researcher Susan F. Tapert, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and director of Substance Abuse/Mental Illness at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. Professor Tapert said the cause of the damage is not fully understood. "It could be that episodes of binge drinking during the teenage years, when their brain is still developing, could have adversely influenced the brain's white matter development." The report published in the April 22, 2009 online edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research also shows that heavy drinking among adolescents remains a major problem. About 55 percent of high school seniors report having been drunk and 25 percent say they have had five or more drinks on at least one day over the past two weeks said Tapert. That means that a "quarter of our high school seniors could be at risk for these kind of problems," she believes. For the study, Tapert's team used a type of MRI imaging called diffusion tensor to look at the brains of 28 teenagers. Among those teens, 14 had a history of binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as having consumed four to five drinks in a day. According to the scans, teens with a history of binge drinking showed damage to their brain's white matter, specifically a lower "coherence" of white matter fibers, which suggests poorer white matter health. Although this study is only a survey of a small number of teens, Tapert takes the results seriously. "I feel compelled to make sure my son is not getting involved with drinking as he moves into the adolescent years," she

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Your Teen

Newer Cars Safer for Teen Drivers

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One of the most exciting days in a teen’s life is when he or she gets their driver’s license. It’s also one of the scariest for parents. Parents know that it takes time and experience to become a competent driver. Teens often believe that because they can stop at stop signs, put on their seat belt, Parallel Park and stay in a well-defined lane, they are competent enough.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), list motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.  Seven teens –ages 16 to 19- die every day from motor vehicle injuries.  According to a new study, more teens could survive serious auto accidents if they are driving newer cars.

While older cars may be less expensive, newer models are more likely to come with better standard safety features. Larger and heavier cars may also offer more protection.

"We know that many parents cannot afford a new vehicle," said the study's lead author, Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Our message to parents is to get the most safety they can afford."

Researchers analyzed data from 2008 to 2012 from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which included information on 2,420 drivers ages 15 to 17 and 18,975 drivers ages 35 to 50.

The majority of teens that died (82%) were in cars that were at least 6 years old. A smaller, but significant proportion of teens (31%) were in cars 11 to 15 years old. For comparison, fatally injured teens were almost twice as likely as their middle-aged counterparts to be driving a car that was 11 to 15 years old.

Researchers say that they can’t prove that older cars driven by teens actually increase the risk of death if they are in a motor vehicle accident. However, there is good reason to think that teens would be safer in newer cars.

Older cars have older seatbelts that can wear and tear with age. Airbags were not required in cars till 1997 and 1998 for trucks. Today, they are standard equipment. The biggest safety upgrade though, has been the addition of electronic stability control.

Ultimately, McCartt said, though newer model cars tend to have more safety features, protecting your teens is not as straight forward as just steering clear of older vehicles. "We did find older vehicles that met our safety criteria," she said.

Still, it's a rare older vehicle that has electronic stability control — an important safety feature that helps drivers keep control in extreme maneuvers, McCartt said. "That's something that is standard on new cars since it was a requirement starting in 2012," she added.

Extreme maneuvers can quickly happen when something unexpected happens while driving. There are also plenty of distractions that can take your eyes off the road such as reading or replying to a text, eating or drinking while driving, cell phone calls, Changing CDs or radio stations, video watching, looking at or entering data for a GPS, talking to passengers. The list goes on. These distractions are certainly not limited to teens, but they have the least experience behind the wheel.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers that can be found at http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicles-for-teens.

They also have a list of recommendations to consider when purchasing a car for a teenager. They are:

•       Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. More powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.

•       Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. They protect better in a crash, and HLDI analyses of insurance data show that teen drivers are less likely to crash them in the first place. There are no mini-cars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

•       Electronic stability control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.

•       Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Most teens will eventually get their driver’s license – that’s a given.  If a teen is still a minor, it’s up to the parents or responsible guardians to help choose a car that will give them the best chance of survival if an accident should happen. That choice may include a newer model.

The study was published online in the journal, Injury Prevention.

Source: Linda Carroll, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/cheap-old-car-might-carry-deadly-cost-teens-study-n271321

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicles-for-teens

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