Your Teen

Parents Bullying Their Child to Lose Weight

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We’ve all read about, maybe even experienced it ourselves, children being teased, harassed and bullied if they are overweight. The heavier the child, the more intense the negative trifecta becomes. This topic often comes up when discussing classmate and peer bullying, but a new study also looks at obese or overweight children who feel bullied by adults in authority (coaches, gym instructors, teachers,) and their own parents.

Researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, gave 350 teens that had enrolled in two national weight loss camps, questionnaires to fill out. The teens were questioned about weight-based victimization including duration, location where the abuse occurred, who the perpetrators were and what kind of abuse they suffered.

Not surprisingly, results showed that a high percentage of bullying and teasing occurred at school (64%.) Most participants reported weight-based victimization for at least one year (78%) and 36% were teased and or bullied for 5 years.

The teens also noted who was responsible for the bullying. 92% said peers (classmates) and friends (70%.) Then the groups switched to the adults in their lives. PE teachers / sport coaches came in at 42%, followed by parents at 37% and teachers at 27%.

The types of teasing and or bullying were verbal teasing (75-88%), relational victimization (74-82%), cyber-bullying (59-61%) and physical aggression (33%-61%.)

Looking at these statistics, the saddest one of all is parents at 37 percent.

“What we see most often from parents is teasing in the form of verbal comments,” says Rebecca M. Puhl PhD, the study’s lead author.

Some of the remarks made to teens about their weight come from well-meaning parents who are actually trying to encourage their child to lose the extra pounds. But other studies have shown – and former teens who are now adults can verify – that teasing, harassing and bullying by parents and relatives can lead to eating disorders and psychological problems such as disordered eating (bulimia, anorexia), use of laxatives and other dangerous weight-control practices (extreme exercising), as well as depression.

Puhl advises adults to lend a supportive hand to overweight children, especially those who are already suffering from bullying at school and by friends. 

She and other experts agree that overweight children need supportive, not punitive, guidance. “Don’t blame your child for his weight. Dinner-table comments like, “Do you really need another piece of bread?” will make your child feel badly about himself, which will undermine his efforts toward health.

“Powerful biological forces maintain weight differentially in people,” explains Dan Kirschenbaum, president of Wellspring, an organization that runs weight-loss camps and boarding schools. Some people find it more difficult to lose weight because of their genetics. This applies not only to adults, but children too. It is going to require more effort and a change in how weight loss is perceived. Losing weight to fit in or to try and copy an unrealistic body type is eventually doomed to fail. Losing weight to be healthier has a much better chance of succeeding.

Tying nutrition and health to weight is a more realistic approach. You may not achieve the current “ideal”, but you will feel better and be able to be more active.

Puhl and several other experts offer parents an outline of dos and don’ts for helping their overweight or obese children in losing weight.

-        Don’t engage in “fat talk,” complaining about weight and appearance, whether it’s your own, your child’s or a celebrity’s. Saying “My thighs are so huge!” teaches your child it’s acceptable to disparage herself or himself and puts way too much emphasis on appearance, says Puhl.

-       Don’t promise your child that if only he or she loses weight, the bullying or teasing will stop. Another published study showed that the stigma around obesity often persists even after someone loses weight.

-       Don’t treat your child as if he or she has — or is — a problem that needs remedying. “This will make him feel flawed and inferior,” says Ellyn Satter, a dietitian and therapist in Madison, Wis., and author of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” Do focus on a child’s other good qualities, and encourage traits like common sense, character and problem-solving skills.

-       Don’t ignore or dismiss bullying. If you suspect or know your teen is being stigmatized, talk to her or him about it. “Questions as simple as ‘Who did you sit with at lunch?’ can open a dialogue and help determine if she has allies or support at school,” says Puhl.

-        Do explore your own biases around weight. “If parents can get past their own inner bigot and be accepting and supportive, they can be of great help to children,” says Ms. Satter. “I’ve seen kids with that secure foundation come up with their own effective solutions to the teasing.”

-        Do focus on health, not weight. “Promote a healthy environment for everyone in the home,” says Puhl, not just the child who is overweight. Serve delicious, well-balanced meals, and encourage everyone in the family to be active in ways they enjoy. Emphasize the value of healthy behaviors rather than looks.

-        Do speak directly and matter-of-factly about your child’s weight if he or she asks. Don’t try to avoid the issue with euphemisms like stocky or solid, says Ms. Satter. Instead, she advises, tell the truth but re-frame the issue, saying something like “Yes, you do have fat on your body. Why, do people tease you about it?” Children are looking for information and guidance. “You can neutralize a message that’s often meant in a derogatory way,” she says.

Some parents may believe that “tough love” is the answer. They may have been overweight when they were young, or are overweight now, and do not want their child to experience what they’ve been through. So they “remind” their child constantly about their weight. Tough love is very subjective. What I may think is tough love, may be perceived as abuse by the person I practice it on. Adults are one thing, but children may simply not have the life experience to put it in perspective. Even teens – who often think they already know everything - are dependent on adults to guide them in the right direction.

Childhood obesity is a health problem that can be reduced through family understanding, healthy and nutritious meals and shared activities. Nagging, trickery and bullying doesn’t accomplish anything positive.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Harriet Brown – New York Times

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/feeling-bullied-by-parents-about weight/?ref=health

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/19/peds.2012-1106.abstract         

 

 

Your Teen

Monthly Pot Use Up 80 % Among Teens

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Looking at the latest survey results released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, one might think the 60s have returned. The survey found that nearly 1 in 10 teens said they smoke marijuana at least 20 or more times a month. That’s up 80 percent for past month marijuana use since the last survey conducted in 2008.

The report by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation also said abuse of prescription medicine may be easing a bit among young people in grades 9 through 12, but still remains high.

That’s a lot of drug use going on with American teens.

You might remember the organization’s ads, “this is your brain on drugs” in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then the organization has changed its name from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America to The Partnership at Drugfree.org. The nonprofit group launched a new name in 2010 to position itself as more of a resource to parents and to avoid the misperception that the group is a government organization.

In the latest survey, researchers gave anonymous questionnaires to 3,322 teens in grades 9-12, that where then filled out at school from March to June 2011.

Partnership President Steve Pasierb says the mindset among some parents is that a little weed or a few pills is no big deal.

"Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them," said Pasierb. "Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can't wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy."

Use of harder drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine has stabilized in recent years, the group's survey showed. But past-month usage of marijuana grew from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. Also alarming, says Pasierb, is the percentage of teens smoking pot 20 or more times a month. That rate went from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent last year, or about 1.5 million teens smoking pot that frequently.

A recent study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the University of Michigan, showed similar results. That study also found marijuana use rising among teens the past few years, reversing a long decline in the previous decade.

"These findings are deeply disturbing as the increases we're seeing in heavy, regular marijuana use among high school students can spell real trouble for these teens later on," Pasierb said in a written statement, adding kids who start in teen years are more likely to have substance abuse problems later in life.

Other findings from the report:

  • One in 10 teens report using prescription painkillers - Vicodin or OxyContin - in the past year, down from a peak of 15 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2010.
  • Just over half of Hispanic teens report using an illicit drug, such as Ecstasy or cocaine, in the past year. That compares to 39 percent for Caucasian teens and 42 percent for African American teens.
  • Past-year alcohol use and past-month drinking is holding steady from the 2008 report at 56 percent and 38 percent respectively.

The Marijuana policy Project, which advocates legalization, has its own take on the survey. They say making marijuana use legal for adults might actually help cut teen usage.

"We definitely don't think that minors should be using marijuana any more than they should be drinking or using tobacco, but arresting people for doing that never stops minors," said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the group. "If we remove marijuana from the criminal market and have the market run by responsible business people that have an incentive to check IDs and not sell to minors, then we might see those rates drop again."

Parents are often at a loss on how to talk to their kids about drug use. Some baby boomers may feel a little hypocritical telling their own kids not to use drugs when they did the same thing at about the same age. The good news is that parents can do a lot to help their teens understand the damage that drug use can do to their lives.

Sometimes knowing what not to say and do, when you have these conversations, can keep your advise from falling on deaf ears. 

Cbsnews.com offers these 14 suggestions from addiction specialist Dr. Joseph Lee, a spokesman for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and medical director the Hazelden Center for Youth and Family, an addiction treatment facility in Minneapolis.

1. Failing to set expectations.

Teens who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use - and vice versa. Dr. Lee says it's best to let your kids know how you feel about drugs before they hit their teenage years.

2. Ignoring mental health issues.

More than two-thirds of young substance abusers suffer from mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and eating disorders. As a rule, substance abuse and mental health issues come together in young people.

If your child undergoes an evaluation for drug abuse, make sure it includes a thorough mental health screening.

3. Assuming experimentation is no big deal.

Experimentation doesn't necessarily lead to addiction, and some parents figure that there's nothing especially worrisome about a child trying drugs or alcohol. In fact, even dabbling in substance abuse can cause big problems, such as car accidents, sexual assault, and serious overdoses. It's not a normal rite of passage.

4. Being dishonest about your drug use.

Parents often feel uncomfortable discussing with their children their own experiences with drugs or alcohol. There's certainly no reason to wax nostalgic about the "glory days," but Dr. Lee recommends being honest if kids ask. "I am not aware of research indicating that an informed discussion with kids about your drug use leads to them to use drugs," he says.

5. Blaming yourself or your spouse.

There's no such thing as a perfect parent, and there's no use in shouldering all the blame (or blaming your spouse) if a child has a drug or alcohol problem. Feeling guilty isn't just unpleasant, it can complicate substance abuse treatment - by dividing the family just when it's important to pull together as a team.

Don't ignore the past, Dr. Lee says, but keep your eyes on the present. If your child is involved in therapy, there will be ample time to make things right.

6. Setting a bad example.

Think teens simply don't pay much attention to their parents? Research suggests otherwise. Model the kind of behavior you want from your teen.

7. Being judgmental.

Being firm is one thing, but "laying down the law" in a moralistic way can close off lines of communication. Try not to be judgmental or to jump to conclusions. Do all you can to make your child feel comfortable about coming to you for help, if it's needed.

8. Failing to consider risk factors. 

Just as obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, smoking is a risk factor for teen substance abuse. Other substance abuse risk factors include early aggressive or disruptive behaviors, depression, ADHD, and anxiety. If your child has any risk factors, get help.

9. Confusing intelligence with maturity. 

Just because a child is smart doesn't mean he/she is mature enough to have good judgment about drugs and alcohol. The brain region responsible for judgment - the prefrontal cortex - doesn't fully mature until a person is in his/her mid-20s.

10. Not locking the medicine cabinet.

Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in the U.S. The CDC says one in five teens experiments with prescription drugs at some point, and most teens obtain the drugs not from drug dealers or the Internet but from friends and family.

Be sure to keep track of all drugs in your home. If you no longer need pills, get rid of them. And pay attention to other substances around the house that have the potential for abuse, including solvents, aerosols, etc.

11. Failing to consider family history.

Like many diseases, addiction can run in families. If it runs heavily in yours, it might be a good idea to adopt a strict no-drinking policy in your home. For some families, it might be okay to let a teen have a sip of wine on a holiday occasion when others are drinking - but not all.

There are no hard and fast rules for what is acceptable for all families, Dr. Lee says. And a teen can develop a substance abuse problem even in the absence of any family history of addiction.

12. Not noticing changes in your teen.

Changes in sleep, mood, friends, activity level, academic performance, weight, personal hygiene, etc. can all signal a substance abuse problem. So pay attention. Monitor your child's welfare with particular care at times of transition - moving to a new school, onset of puberty, breakups with boyfriends or girlfriends, etc.

13. Putting off getting help.

Two million children between the ages of 12 and 17 need treatment for a substance abuse problem, according to a recent survey. But only about 150,000 get the help they need. If you think your teen may have a problem, have him/her assessed by a child psychiatrist, pediatrician, or another expert. Remember, prevention and early intervention are key.

14. Not talking about driving.

The top three causes of teen death in the U.S. are accidents, homicides, and suicides. Each of these problems is linked to substance abuse. Make sure your teen knows about the dangers of driving under the influence - and pay attention to his/her whereabouts.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57426249-10391704/report-frequent...

Your Teen

Almost Half of Teens Drink, Use Drugs, Smoke

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If you have a teenager, there’s a high probability that he or she will be exposed to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes during their high school years. And, there is a good chance your teen will try these drugs.If you have a teenager, there’s a high probability that he or she will be exposed to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes during their high school years. And, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse there is a good chance that your teen will try these drugs.

A new report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has even more startling news for parents. Nearly half of all American high school students smoke, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs. One in four, who start using these substances before they turn 18, may become addicts. The report also indicates that one-quarter of people in the U.S. who began using drugs or alcohol before age 18 meet the criteria for drug or alcohol addiction, compared with one of 25 Americans who started using drugs or alcohol when they were 21 or older. Why is dinking, smoking and using drugs more addictive for a younger person? Harold C. Urschel, MD, an addiction expert in Dallas, says that from the age of 15 to 22, the adolescent brain is still developing. “A complex layer of neural networks is being laid down and brain growth is exponential during these years, so even a little bit of injury from alcohol or drugs is greatly magnified.” “I was surprised at the prevalence of substance use disorders among young people,” says study author Susan E. Foster, CASA’s vice president and director of policy research and analysis. The new study opens a window of opportunity for providers and parents to intervene and prevent addiction, she says. “Do everything you can to get young people through their teen years without using drugs or alcohol. Every year they don’t use drugs or alcohol reduces their risk of negative consequences, such as addiction.” The report also mentioned other findings that give parents an insight to the kinds of drugs teens are choosing. - The most common drug of choice among high school students in the U.S. is alcohol, followed by cigarettes and marijuana. - Ten million, or 75%, of high school students have tried tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine; and one in five of them meet the medical criteria for addiction. - Of the 6.1 million, or 46%, of high school students who currently use addictive substances, one in three is addicted to these substances. The findings are based on surveys of 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students, and 500 school officers, along with expert interviews, focus groups, a literature review of 2,000 scientific articles, and an analysis of seven data sets. “Health care providers need to integrate screening for substance abuse into their practice, and treat and refer patients,” Foster says. This may be easier said than done because there is a dearth of addiction treatment information and options available as well as insurance barriers, she says. Most teens don't begin taking drugs thinking they will become addicted. They usually start trying drugs or alcohol to have a good time and be more like their friends. There’s a certain vulnerability to peer pressure that often replaces common sense, and moral teachings. According to TeenDrugAbuse.org many teens who are addicted don't see a problem with their behavior or their drug use. Drugs make them feel good, and are a way to relieve the stress of school, problems at home, disagreements with friends, and other pressures of growing up. “Teen substance abuse is a huge problem,” says Stephen Grcevich, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Family Center by the fall in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “The numbers in the new report are very consistent with what we see in context of our practice and surrounding areas.” But teen substance abuse and addiction are not inevitable, he says. Preventing substance abuse starts with “intentional parenting” at an early age. “You have to have a plan that allows you to be a positive influence on your children at a young age so that when they get to an age where they are exposed to drugs and alcohol, they will know how to say no,” he says. “Kids who do well academically, are involved in religion, and/or are actively engaged in sports are less likely to get involved with these substances,” he says. “We need to look at giving kids something meaningful and important to do.” For many teens, the stigma of drug use, drinking and smoking has vanished. It’s become acceptable, and almost expected, behavior. It’s time for parents and caregivers to take the blinders off and become educated about teenagers and drug use. Parents often notice that their teen will start pushing away from their guidance, and advice. Sometimes communication is almost impossible when both teen and parent don’t agree on a particular behavior. But this is the most critical time for parents to keep trying and finding new ways to reach their teen. If the parent – child relationship reaches the point where no valuable communication is happening, then you may want to try family counseling. It’s worth the heartbreak, effort, costs, and stress in the long run.

Your Teen

Gym Class Injuries Sending More Kids to the ER

Children these days are more likely to get hurt in gym class than they were a decade ago, a new study published in Pediatrics shows.

A lack of supervision and school nurses may be part of the reason behind a 150% jump in physical education (PE)-related injuries treated at emergency departments between 1997 and 2007, said Dr. Lara McKenzie of National Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the lead researcher on the study. But whatever the cause behind the trend, McKenzie was quick to add, the benefits of participating in PE far outweigh any risks. Researchers examined data from the US Consumer Products Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which tracks sports and recreation-related injuries treated at a nationally representative sample of about 100 US hospital emergency departments. While the system reported an estimated 24,347 physical education-related injuries in 1997, there were 62,408 in 2007. The increase was seen for both boys and girls and across all age groups. About one in five of the injuries were strains or sprains of the legs, while about one in seven were broken arms, or arm sprains or strains. Six sports accounted for 70% of injuries: running, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. The study didn’t look at why physical education injuries had increased. But researchers say it may be because fewer schools have full-time nurses on staff to help hurt kids. Schools may also be packing more kids into gym classes, making it harder for teachers to supervise them, McKenzie added. Just 36% of schools that require PE classes set a maximum student/teacher ratio, McKenzie and her colleagues note in their report. That means that "more equipment, more gym teachers, more training, more nurses--all of those may be beneficial to help reduce PE injuries," she said.

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

Teen Suicide Prevention Treatment Not Working

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Current treatment for teens that struggle with mental disorders and thoughts of suicide doesn’t appear to be helping according to a new study.  Adolescents need a more intuitive treatment plan and for the most part, that’s not what they are getting. 

The Harvard study found that around 1 in every 8 U.S. teens have thought about suicide and nearly 1 in 25 either made plans to or actually attempted suicide.

Researchers collected data on suicidal behaviors from 6,500 teenagers, aged 13 to 18. They also had the teen's parents fill out questionnaires. 

Just over 12 percent of the teens said they had thought about suicide and 4 percent said they had created a plan or attempted suicide.

"What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence," said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Researchers found that almost all the teens who had thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder including, but not limited to, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD or abused alcohol or drugs. 

While 89 percent of the teens were in treatment for various mental disorders, researchers discovered that 55 percent didn’t start their suicidal behavior until after treatment began.

“Mental health professionals are not simply meeting with adolescents in response to their suicidal thoughts or behaviors,” the authors said.

Nock also noted that the results were both “encouraging” and “disturbing.”

"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting (treatment)," he told Reuters Health. However, "We don't know how to stop them - we don't have any evidence-based treatments for suicidal behavior."

Nock believes that treatment is important for teens that have mental disorders or may be having thoughts of suicide, but that treatment needs to be better.

Because most youth who think about suicide never go on to make an actual plan or attempt, doctors need to get better at figuring out which ones are most at risk of putting themselves in danger, according to Nock.

"For parents, if they suspect their child is thinking about suicide… or talking about death, I would have that child evaluated," he said. 

Sadly, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 4,100 teenagers kill themselves each year.

While the study ‘s results are troubling, the authors didn’t say what kind of treatment the teens received or from whom.

Other studies have shown that treatment can help teens work through their suicidal thoughts especially when there is follow-up by the treatment center and the child’s family is supportive and involved.

Kidshealth.org has a list of behaviors parents and friends should be aware of. These are indicators that a teen may be thinking about suicide.

It notes that suicide often occurs following a stressful life event, such as problems at school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a major family conflict.

The signs are:

  • Talks about suicide or death in general.
  • Gives hints that they might not be around anymore.
  • Talks about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty.
  • Pulls away from friends or family.
  • Writes songs, poems, or letters about death, separation, and loss.
  • Starts giving away treasured possessions to siblings or friends.
  • Loses the desire to take part in favorite things or activities.
  • Has trouble concentrating or thinking clearly.
  • Experiences changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  • Engages in risk-taking behaviors.
  • Loses interest in school or sports.

There’s nothing more tragic than a family who loses a child. Teen suicide is on the rise and treatment should be available and appropriate for a teen’s needs. Perhaps this study will inspire more research into what works best for helping teens that are dealing with mental disorders and thoughts of suicide.

Source:http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/suicide.html#

http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/09/16434761-1-in-25-us-teens-attempts-suicide-national-study-finds?lite

Your Teen

Overweight Girls Start Periods At Earlier Age

1.45 to read

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

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

Your Teen

Follow-Up Visit a Must After a Concussion

A new study suggests that children admitted to a hospital with a concussion should have a follow-up assessment with a clinician before resuming normal play activities or sports. Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia used a computer program to assess preteen and teenage concussion victims. They found that most scored poorly on tests of their attentionspan, memory, nonverbal problem solving and reaction time, and nearly all scored in the lowest test quartile on at least one of those four areas. The study looked at 116 children, aged 11 to 17, who were hospitalized for such head trauma over a two-year period.

"Head injuries that occur during regular activities, such as riding a bike or in a car crash, are more common than sports injuries and yet the same issues arise -- the children want to go back to sports, or to school or outside to play," study author Dr. Michael L. Nance, director of the hospital trauma program, said in a news release. "The old recommendation would be to go see your pediatrician if you are having trouble, but sometimes families don't recognize there is trouble until six months later. We think they should be seen again by a qualified health-care provider before returning to play." The study appears in the May 2009 issue of Annals of Surgery. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It may not always be obvious when it occurs because visible cuts or bruises may not appear, but symptoms like headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness or fatigue can appear after the event. Returning too soon to physical activity, such as sports or normal play, increases the likelihood of having another concussion, according to previous research, and could prolong symptoms or even result in death. Follow-ups with some of those children in the study found their brain function improved overall, but the researchers noted difficulty in getting the patients to return. Despite repeated efforts, only slightly more than half came back to scheduled follow-ups. "We suspect that the patients electing not to follow up were at risk as well, and would have benefited from a formal assessment before returning to physically exertive activity," Nance said. "It is this misconception of not feeling injured that places the patient at additional risk."

Your Teen

Heroin Use Increasing Among Teens and Young Adults

2.00 to read

The sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an alleged overdose of heroin is truly sad. Remarks posted on the Internet range from praise and sadness at the loss of a great actor and friend to harsh condemnation of “another Hollywood junkie” and a “godless drug user” that threw away a life of privilege.

Yes, Hoffman made a bad decision when he began using drugs, but no one plans to become an addict.  Immaturity and a sense of being invincible are trademarks of teens and young adults. Reality is much different.  Somewhere along life’s journey, heroin addiction can and does happen to millions of people around the world. Drug abuse and addiction strangles the heart and soul of a person. Users aren’t always poor, uneducated, immoral or bad people. Addicts can also be smart, wealthy, good-hearted people; your neighbor, minister, family member, banker and yes, your child.

The drug culture is changing. Marijuana use among teens is at its highest in 30 years, In 2011, a national study showed that one in eight 8th graders, one in four 10th graders, and one in three 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year. Drug use is becoming more acceptable. While not all marijuana users will graduate to heroin or other drugs, many addicts began their drug abuse with marijuana.

Marijuana isn’t the only drug that kids are finding attractive. New, nationally projectable survey results released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation confirmed that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription (Rx) drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33 percent increase over the past five years.

The increase in prescription drug abuse is thought to be fueling a rise in heroin addiction, NBC News reports. A growing number of young people who start abusing expensive prescription drugs are switching to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to buy.

Prescription pain pills cost $20 to $60, while heroin costs $3 to $10 a bag. Many young people who use heroin start off snorting the drug, and within weeks, most start shooting up, according to the news report. A national crack down on prescription drugs like Vicodin, Oxycotin and Fentanyl – a powerful painkiller for cancer patients - has made the switch to heroin, as an affordable alternative, more rampant. 

Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.

The thing about heroin is that it is highly addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. Anyone from any socioeconomic group and age bracket can easily become addicted with a very short span of repeated use. 

Heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.

It can be injected, inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoked. Once it’s in the body, it enters the brain where it is converted back into morphine - which binds to opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and body) and are especially involved in the perception of pain and reward.

Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls automatic processes critical for life, such as blood pressure, arousal, and respiration. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of breathing, which can be fatal if not addressed. Most fatal overdoses occur when someone is using alone.

In a short amount of time, a tolerance to the drug builds up so that it takes more heroin to get the same “euphotic” results. Even a short break in usage can cause an overdose if the user ingests the same amount of heroin they were using before the break.  

Recent surveys of teens and college age young adults reveal that this age group doesn’t believe that occasional use of heroin is dangerous. That should be a large red flag to parents of teens and soon to be or enrolled college students.

Hoffman previously stated that his long battle with drugs began during his college days. “It was all that [drugs and alcohol], yeah, it was anything I could get my hands on… I liked it all,” he said. That attitude is still rampant among teens and college students today.

At 22 years old, Hoffman entered rehab and stayed sober for 23 years. Last May he entered rehab again for a 10-day detox program. On Sunday, he died of an apparent overdose of heroin. He was only 46 years old.

Heroin use among the young isn’t a new thing, but it’s increasing annually. Heroin isn’t the only drug epidemic that has a hold on many kids. Stimulates are very popular in high school and college, especially around exam time.

How can you tell if someone is using heroin?  Heroin is usually smoked, snorted or injected. You may find the remnants of use in the bedroom, closet or bathroom. Heroin is a powdery or crumbly substance. The color is typically off white to dark brown. Black tar heroin is nearly black and is sticky instead of powdery. Syringes or small glass or metal pipes are used when someone is injecting. Spoons and lighters are used to cook the drug before injection and something like a belt, thin rubber hose or tie is often wrapped around the arm, hand or leg to make a vein stand out.

Users will usually get a dry mouth and his or her skin will flush. Small punctures in the skin appear (tracks or needle marks) in the arms, hands, legs and even feet. Heroin can cause someone to nod off in mid-sentence. Breathing is slowed. A user’s thinking is typically impaired. They will tend to lose some memory. Self-control and good decision-making suffers. Some users itch a lot, are nauseated and vomit. Skin infections and constipation are common.  Heroin users tend to become isolated except when they need to get more drugs. Personality changes occur and mood swings are typical. 

So, make sure your child understands the danger of stimulates or opioid abuse, whether they are prescriptions drugs, morphine, cocaine, Ritalin, Adderall or heroin long before he or she is ready to leave home. Its availability and temptation is much more widespread than you think.

Source: http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/in-the-news/377-prescription-drug-abuse-fueling-rise-in-heroin-addiction

http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/pats-2012

http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/signs-symptoms-heroin-use.html

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