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

Are Energy Drinks Rotting Your Teen’s Teeth?

2:00 to read

A lot of parents know that too many high sugar sodas are not only hazardous to their child’s waistline and health, but they can also cause cavities. But what about the energy drinks teens are gulping down? A new study suggests those drinks could be stripping the enamel right off their teeth.   

In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers have looked for the first time at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. It turns out there's often a lot of citric acid in the drinks.

To give drinks a long shelf life and to enhance flavors, preservatives are added. It’s the preservatives that are very good at stripping the enamel off of teeth.

Dentists are especially worried about teens. 30 to 50 percent are now drinking energy and sports drinks and losing enamel. Once it's gone, teeth are more prone to cavities and more likely to decay.

"We are well aware of the damage that sugar does in the mouth and in the whole body — the role it can play in obesity, diabetes, etc," says Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and the lead author of the study. "But the average consumer is not very well aware that acid does all kinds of damage, too."

To measure just how energy and sports drinks affect teeth, the researchers looked at the fluoride levels, pH, and something called "titratable acidity" of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, including Gatorade and Red Bull.

The researchers then measured how much enamel the drinks took off teeth, dousing sliced-up molars in a petri dish with the beverages for 15 minutes, followed by artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days.

The researchers found that teeth lost enamel with exposure to both kinds of drinks, but energy drinks took off a lot more enamel than sports drinks.

Drink labels list citric acid in the ingredients, but they don’t have to show the precise amount.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) was quick to respond to the study.  

"It is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities)," the ABA said in a statement responding to Jain's paper. "Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person's dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up."

"This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality," the ABA noted in its statement. "People do not keep any kind of liquid in their mouths for 15 minute intervals over five day periods. Thus, the findings of this paper simply cannot be applied to real life situations."

Jain is concerned about health effects beyond cavities. She says consuming a lot of citric acid can lead to loss of bone mass and kidney stones. "This has become a big concern because people are drinking more of these drinks and less milk," she says.

Dentist Dr. Jennifer Bone, spokesperson for Academy of General Dentistry, the organization that publishes the journal, said in the statement that teens and adults should curb their intake of these types of drinks. If they're going to drink one anyway, she recommends they chew sugar-free gum or rinse their mouth with water after drinking the beverage.

"Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal," Bone said.


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.

Your Teen

Concussions May Affect Kid’s Academic Performance


Can a concussion affect your child ‘s academic performance? According to a new study it might, depending on two factors - the severity of the concussion and the grade level of your child.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a fall or blow, jolt or bump to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth rapidly. While most recover from mild concussions quickly, the young and the elderly can have symptoms that last for days or weeks.

Researchers from the Children's National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University studied 349 students ages 5 to 18 to find out what happened to their academic performance after concussions. They divided the students into those who were continuing to experience problems following head injuries and those who were fully recovered, and asked the students and their parents to fill out questionnaires about their academic performance.

The study found that the severity of the concussion symptoms was directly related to the degree of academic problems among all grade levels. Eighty-eight percent of the children who were not fully recovered still had problems with concentration, headaches and fatigue. Seventy-seven percent of those same children had problems taking notes and found themselves spending more time on homework and having problems studying for exams and quizzes.

High school students reported having the most learning problems, significantly more than middle or elementary school children.

The authors say that their findings suggest that school systems and medical professionals should be working together to support students who are still in the recovery phase.

"Our findings suggest that these supports are particularly necessary for older students, who face greater academic demands relative to their younger peers," the study's authors say.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The Mayo Clinic says that common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not follow a loss of consciousness, usually involves the loss of memory of the event that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

•       Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

•       Temporary loss of consciousness

•       Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

•       Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

•       Dizziness or "seeing stars"

•       Ringing in the ears

•       Nausea

•       Vomiting

•       Slurred speech

•       Delayed response to questions

•       Appearing dazed

•       Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

•       Concentration and memory complaints

•       Irritability and other personality changes

•       Sensitivity to light and noise

•       Sleep disturbances

•       Psychological adjustment problems and depression

•       Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in infants and toddlers can be difficult to recognize because these little ones are unable to communicate how they feel. However, there are nonverbal clues of a possible concussion. These are:

•       Appearing dazed

•       Listlessness and tiring easily

•       Irritability and crankiness

•       Loss of balance and unsteady walking

•       Crying excessively

•       Change in eating or sleeping patterns

•       Lack of interest in favorite toys

Concussions should always be treated seriously even when a child doesn’t seem to be showing physical or mental symptoms. If you suspect your child may have a concussion seek a professional diagnosis to make sure.

Sources: Sandee LaMotte,

Your Teen

Helping Others May Help Teens Beat Depression

2.00 to read

Want to help your teen avoid the powerful pull of adolescent depression? Start early by introducing him or her to the gift of giving.

 A new study says that teens who like to help others may be less likely to develop depression.

The study included 15- and 16-year-olds that were given three types of tasks: give money to others, keep the money for themselves or take financial risks with the hope of earning a reward.

The teens were checked for symptoms of depression at the start of the study and a year later.

To see if there was a possible link between pleasure, altruistic behavior and depression, researchers monitored activity levels in the area of the brain called the ventral striatum. This part of the brain controls feelings of pleasure linked to rewards. 

Previous studies have looked at ventral striatum activity and teen behavior associated with risk-taking. But this time, scientists wanted to see if doing for others offered it’s own kind of unique reward.

What if the pleasure center was rewarded with simply helping others through difficult times? Could that kind of activity offer a somewhat equal sense of satisfaction? If so, it might save a lot of young lives and prevent serious injuries that can last a lifetime.

 “There’s this trend where from childhood to adolescence, morbidity and mortality rates increase 200 to 300 percent, and it’s almost entirely due to these preventable risk-taking behaviors,” study author Eva Telzer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release.

“Depressive symptoms also tend to increase during this time,” she said.

The study showed that activity in the ventral striatum in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects’ depressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time.

“If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time,” said Telzer.

“And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression.” she said.

Today’s society seems to run much faster and is more hectic than in previous generations. Families are spread out across the country and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is important in the short time that we have here on earth and carve out a place for reaching out to those who may need an extra hand, a few dollars or a kind word during difficult times.

"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centered rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviors, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," Telzer noted.

Teaching children how to volunteer when they are young and exposing them to other people’s circumstances and beliefs may open a space in their hearts that could help them keep things in perspective by the time they are teens and young adults.

Sources: Rick Nauert PhD,

Robert Preidt,

Your Teen

Acetaminophen, No Threat To Child's Liver

2.00 to read

With more than eight million American kids taking the drug every week, acetaminophen is the nation's most popular drug in children. It's toxic to the liver in high doses, and can be fatal if taken in excess. Very rarely, adults may also get liver damage at normal doses, so doctors had worried if the same was true for kids. Concerns about liver injuries in children who take the common painkiller acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol in the U.S. are unfounded, researchers said on Monday. "None of the 32,000 children in this study were reported to have symptoms of obvious liver disease," said Dr. Eric Lavonas of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. "The only hint of harm we found was some lab abnormalities." With more than eight million American kids taking the drug every week, acetaminophen is the nation's most popular drug in children. It's toxic to the liver in high doses, and can be fatal if taken in excess. Very rarely, adults may also get liver damage at normal doses, so doctors had worried if the same was true for kids. "This drug is used so commonly that even a very rare safety concern is a big concern," said Lavonas, whose findings appear in the journal Pediatrics. Some researchers suspect there is a link between long-term use of acetaminophen and the global rise in asthma and allergies, but the evidence is far from clear at this point. For the new report, researchers pooled earlier studies that followed kids who had been given acetaminophen for at least 24 hours. There were no reports of liver injuries leading to symptoms such as stomachache, nausea or vomiting, in the 62 reports they found. Ten kids, or about three in 10,000, had high levels of liver enzymes in their blood, which usually means their livers have been damaged. In most cases, however, those elevations were unrelated to acetaminophen. And even if they were caused by the drug, they don't indicate lasting damage, according to Lavonas. "Acetaminophen is extremely safe for children when given correctly," he said. "Parents should not be afraid to give acetaminophen to their children when they need it, but they should be very careful about giving the right dose." "If you suspect that you have given a child an overdose, call your state's poison center," he added. The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center receives funding from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that sells Tylenol, but the researchers said the company did not support this study.

Your Teen

Kids Still Pumping Up the Volume

A new survey has found that children and their parents who like to crank up the volume on their music would turn down the sound level or use ear protection if they were told to do so by a health-care professional. The survey, conducted by Vanderbilt University researchers in conjunction with found that nearly half of those surveyed said they experienced symptoms such as tinnitus or hearing loss after being exposed to loud music. 32 percent said they considered hearing loss a problem. The survey is published in the July 13, 2009, online issue of Pediatrics.

About 75 percent of those surveyed said they owned an MP3 player, and 24 percent listened to it for more than 15 hours a week. Nearly half said they use a music player at 75 to 100 percent of its maximum volume, which exceeds government regulations for occupational sound levels. When surrounded by external sounds, such as subway or traffic noise, 89 percent of the respondents said they increase the volume on their music player, the study found. The people surveyed said the media is the most informative source about hearing loss prevention, and the health care community was considered the least likely source. However, they said they would change their music listening behavior if advised to do so by a health-care professional. "Hearing loss is so prevalent that it has become the norm," study author Dr. Roland Eavey, chairman of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt, said in a university news release. He noted that studies "show that 90 percent of males age 60 and over now have hearing loss." Since the researchers' last survey about loud music and hearing loss, which they conducted in 2002, "we have learned that enough people still are not yet aware, but that more are becoming aware, especially through the help of the media," Eavey said.



Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



Some kids are playing sports before they are potty trained? Yes! This is crazy!