Your Teen

Explosion in E-cigarettes Marketing to Minors

2.00 to read

It looks like e-cigarette manufacturers may have found the perfect market for their products - children under the age of 18.

According to the study published online today by the journal Pediatrics, between 2011 and 2013 exposure to e-cigarette TV ads increased by 256% among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321% among young adults, ages 18 to 24.

Researchers reported that approximately 76% of the ads seen by each of the two age groups occurred while watching cable networks — most often AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land and VH1. They also appeared on broadcast network programs that were among the 100 highest rated youth programs for the 2012-2013 TV season, including The Bachelor, Big Brother and Survivor, the study finds.

One brand, blu eCigs, owned by tobacco company Lorillard, accounted for almost 82% of all nationally aired e-cigarette ads viewed by 12- to 17-year-olds.

E-cigarettes have been touted as a new way for smokers to get the nicotine they want without the cancer causing chemicals in traditional cigarettes. They’ve also been promoted as a method that smokers can use to cut back and eventually quit their habit by inhaling nicotine vapors instead of cigarette smoke.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) l has been considering new rules that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

The makers of e-cigarettes say they are not advertising their products to minors. 

In a statement, blu eCigs said it has "proactively set limitations on when and where" its product "can be marketed in an effort to minimize any potential exposure to minors." A part of the criteria used "is to screen all marketing opportunities to ensure that our TV ads only run with media targeting an adult audience of 85 percent or greater."

The study’s lead author says the data suggests otherwise.  "The tobacco industry and e-cigarette industry say that they are not advertising products to youth, but they are advertising products on a medium which is the broadest based medium in the country," says Jennifer Duke, lead author of the study and a public health researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

With a national television audience that includes 24 million viewers between the ages of 12 and 17, "as e-cigarette advertisements increase for adults they are by default also increasing exposure to youth," Duke says. "It's hard to argue that only adults are seeing these ads," she adds.

E-cigarettes have not been fully studied by the FDA, but a laboratory analysis of several samples conducted by the agency in late 2008 found trace amounts of carcinogens and toxic chemicals, such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.

Results of the new media study provide "the strongest evidence that there has been an absolute explosion of youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising on television," says Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"It's particularly disturbing precisely because Congress removed cigarette advertising from television because of the unique impact TV advertising has on young people," Myers says. " When e-cigarette manufacturers say that they don't market to minors, it's Deja Vu all over again. This study demonstrates the importance of FDA moving rapidly and decisively to protect our nation's children."

Source: Michelle Healy,

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.


Your Teen

Teens Drive Better With More Sleep

1.45 to read

The study, published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared school start times and automobile crash rates for students aged 16 to 18 years in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m., to students at schools in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started between 8:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. A new study suggests that getting an extra hour of sleep at night could help your teen drive safer.

The study, published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared school start times and automobile crash rates for students aged 16 to 18 years in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m., to students at schools in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started between 8:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. What they discovered was that the earlier risers may not be very alert while behind the wheel and were more prone to sleep loss and daytime sleepiness. The study's lead author, Dr. Robert Vorona, said that starting high school later in the morning might make young drivers more alert simply because they get more sleep. There were 65.8 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach, and 46.6 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Chesapeake. The comparisons were made in 2008 and were similar to results in 2007. "We believe that high schools should take a close look at having later start times to align with circadian rhythms in teens and to allow for longer sleep times," said Vorona who is an associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. "Too many teens in this country obtain insufficient sleep. Increasingly, the literature suggests that this may lead to problematic consequences including mood disorders, academic difficulties and behavioral issues." An extra hour of sleep could also improve attention levels, reduce mistakes and performance according to another study in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The Israeli study of 14-year-old, eighth-grade students found those teens that slept 55 minutes longer each night performed better on tests that require attention. So just one more hour of sleep can make a big difference in how teens drive, and perform in school. Instead of the 7 or 8 hours of sleep recommended for adults, teens should think in terms of about 9 hours per night. With school schedules and other activities it can be a challenge to set aside that much time. It is also a good idea to get this amount of sleep on a daily basis and not skimp during the week and then try to make it up on the weekend.

Your Teen

Teen Weight Gain May Increase Heart Disease Risk

Young adults who gained too much weight as teenagers tend to have greater amounts of deep abdominal fat which is a risk for heart disease in later life.A new study indicates that young adults who gained too much weight as teenagers tend to have greater amounts of deep abdominal fat which is a risk for heart disease in later life. The findings, reported by Swedish researchers in the journal Diabetes, add to growing evidence that overweight and obese teens may face increased heart risks by middle age.

The researchers from Gothenburg University found that among 612 men ages 18 to 20, those whose body mass index (BMI) increased the most during adolescence tended to have the greatest amounts of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the deep, "hidden" fat that surrounds the abdominal organs and is particularly linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. These same men also typically had more superficial abdominal fat, which are fat layers just below the skin that, while linked to health risks are a weaker risk factor than visceral fat. The findings suggest that preventing excessive weight gain in adolescence, in particular, may help control visceral fat accumulation later on. Because visceral fat is tied to heart diseased and its risk factors, the findings also suggest that large BMI changes in the teen years could affect a person's cardiovascular health later on.

Your Teen

HPV Vaccine Safety

1.15 to read

Do you have a teenager?  If so, have they received their HPV vaccine?

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus, which may cause cervical and penile cancer, oral cancers and genital warts.  There has been a vaccine available since 2007.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics looked at vaccination rates for teens and the HPV vaccine. While 80% of teens are receiving their Tdap booster, and 63% of teens are current on their meningococcal meningitis vaccine, only 32% of teens have received all 3 doses of HPV vaccine.

Parents whose teenagers had not received a first HPV vaccine or completed the series often said that the vaccine was “not needed or necessary”.  

Other parents whose children had not received the HPV vaccine and who did not intend to vaccinate their children stated that they “were worried about the safety or side effects of the vaccine”.

The HPV vaccine has had a good safety record and has been shown to be very effective in preventing HPV infections.  The vaccine has been studied in the United States for amost 7 years, and in Europe and Australia for almost 10 years.  

The vaccine does not treat HPV disease, but rather prevents it, so the vaccine needs to be given to adolescents prior to any exposure to the virus.   While many parents feel comfortable discussing sexuality with their children, other parents are uncomfortable with vaccinating their children for a sexually transmitted disease.  

Getting parents to complete the series (which is given over a 6 month period) has also been a hurdle and  the vaccine is not effective until all 3 shots in the series has been completed.

If you have questions about the HPV vaccine, talk to your doctor in order that all of your questions can be answered. I know I have given my 3 children the vaccine and encourage all of my patients age 11 and older to receive the HPV vaccine series. 

Your Teen

Excessive Gum Chewing May Cause Migraines

2.00 to read

Kids love to chew gum but the smacking, popping and bubble blowing has driven many a parent and teacher to their breaking point.  There’s another side to gum chewing that may be more than just annoying. According to a new study, excessive gum chewing may be giving kids migraines.

Dr. Nathan Watemberg, with Tele Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center, noticed that many patients reporting headaches were excessive gum chewers. After completing his study, Watemberg believes that some migraine patients can be cured of their headaches without further testing or medications simply by eliminating their gum chewing.

"Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution," said Watemberg. "Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms."

The study involved 30 patients, 6 to 19 years old, who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily. He asked that the participants stop chewing gum for one month. They had chewed gum for at least an hour, some up to more than six hours, per day. After a month without gum, 19 of the 30 patients reported that their headaches went away entirely and seven reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. To test the results, 26 of them agreed to resume gum chewing for two weeks. All of them reported a return of their symptoms within days.

Two previous studies linked gum chewing to headaches, but offered different explanations. One study suggested that gum chewing causes stress to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the place where the jaw meets the skull. The other study blamed aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in most popular chewing gums. TMJ dysfunction has been shown to cause headaches, while the evidence is mixed on aspartame.

Watemberg supports the TMJ explanation. People who chew gum excessively put a significant burden on the TMJ, which is already the most constantly used joint on the body, he says.

"Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," said Watemberg. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."

Watemberg says his findings can be put to use immediately. By advising teenagers with chronic headaches to simply stop chewing gum, doctors can provide many of them with quick and effective treatment, without the need for expensive diagnostic tests or medications.

If your child suffers from nagging headaches and is a daily gum chewer, you might want to conduct your own study. Explain that the gum chewing may be contributing to his or her headaches and ask them to quit for a month. If the headaches stop- you’ve probably found the problem. If they continue, have your pediatrician or family doctor check your child for other causes.

Dr. Watemberg’s findings were published in the online journal, Pediatric Neurology.

Source: Science Daily,

Your Teen

Teen Depression Diagnosed With A Blood Test?

2.00 to read

Teen angst. A lot of parents would say the two words are synonymous. The adolescent period of growth is filled with challenges, new beginnings and endings, a fair share of drama and sometimes depression. Teens and parents both can have a difficult time understanding the mechanics of depression. When your teen’s depression lingers, the question then becomes… is this something that will pass, or is it more serious and needs treatment?

A new study suggests that teens may one day be able to take a simple blood test that will determine whether they are suffering from normal teenage angst or clinical depression.

In a pilot study of 28 adolescents, scientists showed that teenage depression could be diagnosed through a panel of 11 genetic markers, according to a report published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

If the results are confirmed in larger trials, doctors may one day be able to screen for depression just as they do for diabetes, says study co-author Eva Redei, the David Lawrence Stein professor of psychiatric diseases affecting children and adolescents at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

The new research could also provide help for adults who suffer with depression. The identification of specific biomarkers and new genes may also lead to new and more effective treatments.

Currently there is no actual test for depression. Diagnosis is subjective and based on a person’s ability to recognize and identify common symptoms. That can be a difficult task for teens that have little experience handling life’s challenges.

Researchers developed their test by first studying rats specially bred to model human depression. While rats don’t experience all the symptoms of depression, interestingly they do show many of the same signs.

“They huddle together,” says Redei. “They don’t move around a lot. They aren’t much interested in playing. They’re less interested in food than normal rats. And they don’t sleep well.”

Intriguingly, the "depressed" rats also respond well to certain antidepressants, says Redei. "In reality, depression affects our ancient brains as much as our new brain,” she says. “And the ancient brain is the same in humans as it is in rats.”

Some scientists believe that severe depression may be caused by a combination of environmental and complicated genetic factors.  Given the right genetics, it can be kicked off by “any kind of environmental challenge such as trauma or life stresses” says Redei.

To see how the depressive brain reacts to environmental triggers, Redei and her colleagues looked at differences in the way normal rats and depression-model rats behaved in response to stress. They pulled blood samples from all the rats and found a host of markers that differed between the two groups.

In the second part of their study, the researchers examined blood from 14 depressed and 14 healthy teens, looking at the levels of 26 markers that had been identified in the depression-model rats.

They found that 11 of those markers, taken together, accurately predicted which teens were clinically depressed.

Early diagnosis and treatment for clinical depression could have a monumental impact on the quality of life for both teens and adults. Scientists are hopeful that this research may lead to the development of a dependable diagnostic blood test for anyone suffering from severe depression. 

To learn more about the symptoms of and treatments for teen depression,, offers a comprehensive outline.


Your Teen

Video Game Players...Future Surgeons?

Altered brain activity can lead to better control of other skilled movements. Playing video games for hours on end may prepare your child to become a laparoscopic surgeon one day.Playing video games for long periods of time is often blamed for children not getting enough physical exercise; if you seldom get up from the couch, you're not going to be very fit. But, a new study indicates that spending a moderate amount of time playing video games can actually benefit some teens by developing better visual-motor skills.


Altered brain activity can lead to better control of other skilled movements. Playing video games for hours on end may prepare your child to become a laparoscopic surgeon one day. Here's why. Reorganization of the brain's cortical network in young men with significant experience playing video games gives them an advantage not only in playing the games but also in performing other tasks requiring a combination of visual and motor skills. These findings are published in the October 2010 issue of Elsevier's Cortex Researchers from the Centre for Vision Research at York University in Canada compared a group of 13 young men in their twenties, who had played video games at least four hours a week for the previous three years, to a group of 13 young men without that experience. The subjects were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and asked to complete a series of increasingly difficult visual / motor tasks, such as using a joystick or looking one way while reaching another way. "By using high resolution brain imaging (fMRI), we were able to actually measure which brain areas were activated at a given time during the experiment," said Lauren Sergio, associate professor in the Faculty of Health at York University. "We tested how the skills learned from video game experience can transfer over to new tasks, rather than just looking at brain activity while the subject plays a video game." The study found that during the tasks the less experienced gamers were relying most on the parietal cortex (the brain area typically involved in hand-eye coordination), whereas the experienced gamers showed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex (the brain area typically involved with mediating conflicting thoughts) at the front of the brain. Lead author Joshua Granek added that, in the future, it would be interesting to study if the brain pattern changes are affected by the type of video games a player has used and the actual total number or hours he has played, and to study female video gamers, whose brain patterns in earlier studies were different than those of males. The finding that using visuomotor skills can reorganize how the brain works offers hope for future research into the problems experienced by Alzheimer's patients, who struggle to complete the simplest visuomotor tasks.

Your Teen

Low Vitamin D Increases Teens’ Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease

Teens who have low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease.Teens who have low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Researchers looked at data involving nearly 4-thousand teens aged 12 to 19 enrolled in National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 2001 to 2004. They found that 25 percent of the teens with the lowest vitamin D levels had a fourfold greater risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of risk factors for diabetes.

The results also showed those same teens have over a twice-greater risk of both high blood sugar and high blood pressure. The lead researcher, Dr. Jared P. Reis says the findings suggest that vitamin D supplements would be helpful. But he warns that is remains to be proven whether this would reduce diabetes and heart disease risk. "We believe clinical trials designed to determine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on heart disease risk factors in adolescents should be conducted before recommendations can be made for vitamin D in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," Reis says in a news release. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a daily intake of 400 IU. But some experts say children and teens need more than 1,000 IJ of vitamin day every day. "We are just now starting to understand the role that vitamin D may play in cardiovascular health," Reis says.


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