Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Economic Environment During Infancy Linked With Substance Use, Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence

Us unemployment rates 1950 2005

Us unemployment rates 1950 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While correlation doesn’t equate cause/effect…there just may be something here…

From the 31 December 2012 article at ScienceDaily

The larger economic environment during infancy may be associated with subsequent substance use and delinquent behavior during adolescence, according to a report published Online First by Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

“The results demonstrate a strong correlation between the unemployment rate during infancy and subsequent behavioral problems. This finding suggests that unfavorable economic conditions during infancy may create circumstances that can affect the psychological development of the infant and lead to the development of behavioral problems in adolescence,” the authors note.

According to the study results, exposure to a 1 percent deviation from mean regional unemployment rates at the age of 1 year was associated with an increase in the odds ratios of engaging in marijuana use (1.09), smoking (1.07), alcohol use (1.06), arrest (1.17), gang affiliation (1.09), and petty (1.06) and major theft (1.11). No significant associations were noted with the use of hard drugs and assaultive behavior, the results indicate.

“Although the past does not necessarily predict the future, it provides important lessons. Our findings suggest an important static risk factor that mental health professionals may want to take into account when dealing with children exposed to the current economic crisis,” the authors conclude. “We hope that the study inspires mental health professionals to look for potential causes and explore interventions that can mitigate some of these long-term consequences.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

January 2, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does True Love Wait? Age of First Sexual Experience Predicts Romantic Outcomes in Adulthood

Please read the entire article, there are many factors that need to be “teased out” in future studies (as the author emphasizes).
A fascinating read, nonetheless.

From the 17 October 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

It’s a common lament among parents: Kids are growing up too fast these days. Parents worry about their kids getting involved in all kinds of risky behavior, but they worry especially about their kids’ forays into sexual relationships. And research suggests that there may be cause for concern, as timing of sexual development can have significant immediate consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health.

But what about long-term outcomes? How might early sexual initiation affect romantic relationships in adulthood?

Psychological scientist Paige Harden of the University of Texas at Austin wanted to investigate whether the timing of sexual initiation in adolescence might predict romantic outcomes — such as whether people get married or live with their partners, how many romantic partners they’ve had, and whether they’re satisfied with their relationship — later in adulthood…

Read the entire article here

 

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One in Three Victims of Teen Dating Violence Has Had More Than One Abuser

After reading this article a few questions come to mind.
Has this kind of violence always occurred, and is only now being studied more closely in the past?
Are more people becoming increasingly desensitized to violence through depiction in the media? and being violent (including verbally) without realizing the consequences?
Should dating be discouraged in people under 16 ? Should they be encouraged to socialize with others in the younger teen years rather than date in order to learn how to communicate, respect one another, and develop as individuals?
Do people (especially girls, young women) have too high expectations of dating? Do they expect a boy or young man to fill needs best met by families/parents?

On a related note, about a year ago I was on our courthouse grounds for a few hours. I was participating in a local peace group’s display of the cost of the Iraq war. A couple walked by, and the young man (late teens/early 20′s) was pushing the young woman he was walking with and calling her names.  Although both were smiling, it seemed like it was escalating. I stepped in, not boldly, and tried to get him to stop through words. Forgot what I said. He didn’t really stop, but at least it did not get any worse.
On reflection, the relationship seemed to be based more on ownership than mutual love. So sad.

 

Excerpts From the 18 September 2012 article at Science Daily

Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.

But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

“For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn’t just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend,” Bonomi said.

The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said….

One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren’t serious enough to be called abuse. But that’s not true, Bonomi said.

“Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health,” she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents….

Some types of dating violence tended to occur at earlier ages than others, the study found. For females reporting dating violence, controlling behavior tended to occur early, with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. For males, 13 to 15 was the most common age range for the first occurrence of put-downs and name-calling (60 percent).

Pressure to have sex was more likely to start at later ages, from 16 to 17 for women.

Bonomi said it was significant that college students were reporting this level of abuse as teens.

“There’s a common belief in our society that dating violence only affects low-income and disadvantaged teens. But these results show that even relatively privileged kids, who are on their way to college, can be victims.”

The results also call for better education in our elementary schools.

“Many of these kids are getting in relationships early, by the age of 13,” Bonomi said. “We need to help them learn about healthy relationships and how to set sexual boundaries. It shouldn’t just be one class session — it needs to be a routine discussion in school.”

  • Teen Dating Violence (politicalsocialworker.wordpress.com)
  • What’s Behind All The Violence In America Today? (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
    “The reality untaught in American schools and textbooks is that war — whether on a large or small scale — and domestic violence have been pervasive in American life and culture from this country’s earliest days almost 400 years ago. Violence, in varying forms,according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, “has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience,” and is “part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure.” Indeed, “repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence.”Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, “peace-loving” nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced. But the Reality tells different story.”

Take dating violence, for example. Emily Rothman, associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health recently, published a study on dating violence among teenagers in December of 2010 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She surveyed around 1,500 students from the Boston area. Rothman found that:

… Nearly 19% of students reported physically abusing a romantic partner in the past month, including pushing, shoving, hitting, punching, kicking or choking. Nearly 43% reported verbally abusing their partner, cursing at them or calling them fat, ugly, stupid or some other insult.”

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Sexual Behavior in Adolescence

 

From the 17th July 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

Intuitively it simply makes sense: exposure to sexual content in movies at an early age probably influences adolescents’ sexual behavior. And yet, even though a great deal of research has shown that adolescents who watch more risky behaviors in popular movies, like drinking or smoking, are more likely to drink and smoke themselves, surprisingly little research has examined whether movies influence adolescents’ sexual behaviors.

Until now.

Over six years, psychological scientists examined whether or not seeing sex on the big screen translates into sex in the real world for adolescents. Their findings, which are to be published inPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, revealed not only that it did but also explained some of the reasons why.

It appears from our meta-analysis that risk-glorifying media has potentially grave consequences, such as innumerable incidences of fatalities, injuries and high economic costs in a broad variety of risk-taking domains, such as substance abuse, reckless driving, gambling and risky sexual behavior,” wrote Fischer.

Among the media examined, video games that glorify risk were more likely to prompt dangerous behavior than passive exposure, such as watching films or listening to music. The authors examined research conducted between 1983 and 2009 in the United States and Europe, incorporating more than 80,000 participants. Most people were between the ages of 16 and 24, but some of the samples did include older and younger participants.

An analysis of this size helps prove that exposure to risk-glorifying media actually leads to riskier behavior, which was exemplified in several experiments, the authors said. For example, in a typical experiment, participants were first exposed to media content that either glorified risk taking — such as pictures of extreme sports or street racing video games — or did not glorify such behavior. Afterward, the researchers measured how willing the participants were to engage in certain types of risky behaviors, such as participating in extreme sports or reckless driving, measured in a computer simulation.

One study of 961 young adults found that those who watched movies showing people drinking were more likely to drink more and have alcohol-related problems later in life. Similar effects were found in other studies of smoking.

“These results support recent lines of research into the relationship between risk taking and the media,” said Fischer. “There is indeed a reliable connection between exposure to risk-glorifying media content and risk-taking behaviors, cognitions and emotions.”…

 

 

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncontrollable Anger Prevalent Among U.S. Youth: Almost Two-Thirds Have History of Anger Attacks

Although not addressed in this study, I couldn’t help but wonder if anger is “fed” by factors not easily determined as how we think about and treat people on an everyday basis.
This morning on Facebook, a friend posted an item about snarkiness and how this affects one’s productivity.  However, I think snakiness not only affects oneself but the thoughts and actions of others.I couldn’t help but think that maybe snarky attitudes can somehow draw out anger in others. Yes, we are all ultimately responsible for our actions and thoughts. But we are also “our brother’s keeper”.

This article made me more aware of how I think and act towards teens, and how I need to rethink my thoughts and actions.

 

From the 2 July 2012 ScienceDaily article

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adolescents have experienced an anger attack that involved threatening violence, destroying property or engaging in violence toward others at some point in their lives. These severe attacks of uncontrollable anger are much more common among adolescents than previously recognized, a new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School finds.

Image not available.

The study, based on the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement, a national face-to-face household survey of 10,148 U.S. adolescents, found that nearly two-thirds of adolescents in the U.S. have a history of anger attacks. It also found that one in 12 young people — close to six million adolescents — meet criteria for a diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), a syndrome characterized by persistent uncontrollable anger attacks not accounted for by other mental disorders.

The results were published July 2 inArchives of General Psychiatry.
[Full Text of the Report here

IED has an average onset in late childhood and tends to be quite persistent through the middle years of life. ..

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 topics to discuss with your teen this summer

Some states in the United States have implemen...

Some states in the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying. Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation only School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address bullying of students based on sexual orientation Law prohibits bullying in school but lists no specific categories of protection No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 6 June 2012 post at KevinMD.com

10 topics to discuss with your teen this summer

1. Marijuana. My teens ask me great questions about the physical effects of marijuana on the body. Pot seems to be the latest recreational “drug of choice”  among teen users in our area, noting that it is easier and cheaper to obtain than alcohol. With legalization arguments mounting as the Presidential election draws near, arm yourself with the facts about the risks of marijuana use  and how you can openly discuss this drug. Most importantly, be honest. Don’t lie. Don’t over-exaggerate. You want to be a trusted source worth coming back to.

2. Bullying. Stories about severe bullying are real, and sobering. Social media and cell phones have brought bullying to a new level. Most of our Kansas City area schools have bullying policies in place – encourage them to be used. There are also movements, such as Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, that are rapidly growing; showing promise that many teens are openly fighting against bullying. Encourage this in your child. Know the signs of bullying and victimization. And, act on your suspicions.

3. Recreational ADHD drug use. In my area, one Adderall XR tablet will sell for $10 during finals week. Yep, one pill. My teen…

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

Millions of adolescents falling behind, especially in Africa – UNICEF report

Charles Taylor was found guilty by the Hague today…so many factors contribute to why adolescents are falling behind in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa…while wars and armed conflicts are some of the factors, there are others…still…the wages of war  (and preparing for ware) are death…in so many, many ways.

From the summary at Full Text Reports

Millions of adolescents falling behind, especially in Africa – UNICEF report
Source:  UNICEF

Over the past 20 years, adolescents have benefitted from progress in education and public health. Yet the needs of many adolescents are neglected with more than 1 million losing their lives each year and tens of millions more missing out on education, says a new UNICEF report today.
The report, for example, identifies sub-Saharan Africa as the most challenging place for an adolescent to live. The adolescent population of the region is still growing, and it is projected to have the greatest number of adolescents in the world by 2050. But only half the children in sub-Saharan Africa complete primary school and youth employment is low.
Progress for Children: A report card on adolescents highlights other alarming consequences of the benefits of progress not being equally shared among the total of 1.2 billion adolescents – defined by the United Nations as between the ages of 10 and 19 – now living in all the regions of the world.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

A family history of alcoholism may make adolescent brains respond differently

A family history of alcoholism may make adolescent brains respond differently

Excerpts from the press release

 

  • Adolescents with a family history of alcoholism (FHP) are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders.
  • A new study has compared the brain activity of FHP youth to peers with no family history of alcoholism.
  • Two areas of the brain – the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum – responded differently during risky decision-making in high-risk youth compared to their lower-risk peers.

Researchers know that adolescents with a family history of alcoholism (FHP) are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders. Some studies have shown that, compared to their peers, FHP adolescents have deficits in behavioral inhibition. A study of the neural substrates of risk-taking in both FHP adolescents and their peers with a negative family history of alcoholism (FHN) has shown that FHP youth demonstrated atypical brain activity while completing the same task as the FHN youth.

Results will be published in the April 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“We know that a familial history of alcoholism is a significant risk factor for future alcohol abuse,” said Bonnie J. Nagel, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University as well as corresponding author for the study. “We were interested in determining whether adolescents at heightened risk for alcohol use made more risky decisions during a laboratory task compared to their lower-risk peers. Additionally, we wanted to examine whether differences in brain responses when making risky decisions were present in these two groups. We wanted to investigate pre-morbid neural risk factors during decision making in FHP youth, as opposed to differences in brain response due to heavy alcohol use itself.”

“This is the first study to examine the neural substrates of risk-taking in FHP adolescents who are substance naïve,” ..

Read the entire press release here

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction (link to NIMH brochure and personal musings)

The US National Institute of Mental Health has recently published an easy to read brochure which outlines brain changes in the still developing adolescent brain.  An understanding of these changes go a long way in explaining puzzling contradictions in teen behavior.

These sections of the brochure especially resonated with me. They essentially point to growing evidence that even up to their early 20′s, people are still maturing emotionally. They have not yet reached full capacity to think and reason.

“The (functional brain imaging) scans also suggest that different parts of the cortex mature at different rates. Areas involved in more basic functions mature first: those involved, for example, in the processing of information from the senses, and in controlling movement. The parts of the brain responsible for more “top-down control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead – the hallmarks of adult behavior- are among the last to mature.”

“Several lines of evidence suggests that the brain circuitry involved in emotional responses is changing during the teen years. Functional brain imaging studies, for example, suggest that the responses of teens to emotionally loaded images and situations are heightened relative to younger children and adults. The brain changes underlying these patterns involve brain centers and signaling molecules taht are part of the reward system with which the brain motivates behavior. These age-related changes shape how much different parts of the brain are activated in response to experience, and in terms of behavior, the urgency and intensity of emotional reactions.”

As adults, we have the responsibility to continue to nurture young adults, provide guidance, and fully respect them in the light of how they are able to reason, react emotionally, and learn.

These responsibilities we have as adults should resonate in the public sector.
For example, those who market and advertise should exercise caution with “emotionally laden images” when targeting teens and young adults to buy their products and services. To do otherwise is disrespectful.

In a similar vein, I believe that the recruitment of people under 21 into the armed services is not too farm removed from recruiting child soldiers. Again, it is easy to market with images appealing to the emotions involved with sense of adventure, being in a group of like minded individuals, patriotism, and fighting evil. But is the age group of 18-21 a good fit for the military? I think not.  Recruiting in this age group is taking advantage of the still developing, not fully developed  areas of the brain devoted to analyzing risks and self control. People in this age group should be guided and nurtured in environments in which risk taking and self control  are valued, not violence based or used against individuals or groups. I believe the military is violence based under the guise of words as protection, defense, and patriotism. The military is no place for a developing brain.

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Teens Who Express Own Views With Mom Resist Peer Pressures Best

HealthDay news image

From the 29 December 2011 Medical News Today article

Teens who more openly express their own viewpoints in discussions with their moms, even if their viewpoints disagree, are more likely than others to resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink.

That’s one of the findings of a new longitudinal study by researchers at the University of Virginia. The study appears in the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at more than 150 teens and their parents, a group that was racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse. The teens were studied at ages 13, 15, and 16 to gather information on substance use, interactions with moms, social skills, and close friendships. Researchers used not just the youths’ own reports, but information from parents and peers. They also observed teens’ social interactions with family members and peers.

They found that teens who hold their own in family discussions were better at standing up to peer influences to use drugs or alcohol. Among the best protected were teens who had learned to argue well with their moms about such topics as grades, money, household rules, and friends. Arguing well was defined as trying to persuade their mothers with reasoned arguments, rather than with pressure, whining, or insults.

“The healthy autonomy they’d established at home seemed to carry over into their relationships with peers,” suggests Joseph P. Allen, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, who led the study. …

Read the news article here


December 29, 2011 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mothers Have A Stronger Tendency To Mimic Their Daughters’ Consumption Behavior Than Vice Versa

From the 26 July 2011 Medical News Today article

A new study by a Temple University Fox School of Business professor finds that teenage girls have a strong influence on the products their mothers buy solely for personal use, as in makeup or clothing, and that mothers have a much stronger tendency to mimic their daughters’ consumption behavior than vice versa.

“This finding provides initial support for the notion of reverse socialization and suggests that the impact adolescents have on their parents is much more profound than has been credited to them,” Dr. Ayalla A. Ruvio, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing, writes in a forthcoming Journal of Consumer Behavior article

Read the rest of this Medical News Today article

July 26, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Too Many Hours on the Job May Put Teens at Risk

Too Many Hours on the Job May Put Teens at Risk
Schoolwork, behavior may suffer when high schoolers work more than 20 hours a week, study says

From the February 8 Health Day article by Robert Preidt

SUNDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) — High school students who work more than 20 hours a week at part-time jobs during the school year may be more likely to have academic and behavior problems, according to a new study.

U.S. researchers analyzed data collected in the late 1980s from 1,800 middle-class teens in grades 10 and 11 in order to compare students who had jobs with those who didn’t work.

The study found that working more than 20 hours a week was associated with reduced school engagement, lower expectations for further education, and an increase in illegal activities including stealing, carrying a weapon, and using alcohol and illicit drugs.

These negative behaviors persisted even after such teens reduced their work hours or stopped working, the investigators found.

However, teens who worked fewer hours appeared to experience negligible academic, psychological or behavioral effects, according to the study published in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development.

“Although working during high school is unlikely to turn law-abiding teenagers into felons or cause students to flunk out of school, the extent of the adverse effects we found is not trivial, and even a small decline in school engagement or increase in problem behavior may be of concern to many parents,” study leader Kathryn C. Monahan, a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Washington, said in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development.

She recommended that parents, educators and policymakers monitor and limit the number of hours worked by high school students.

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, Feb. 4, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Violent Video Games Don’t Predict Aggressive Behavior

Violent Video Games Don’t Predict Aggressive Behavior
New study takes issue with current thinking, points to depression instead

HealthDay news image

From the December 17 2010 Health Day News item by Robert Preidt

FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to violent video games or television shows is not a strong predictor of aggression or violence among youth, says a new study from Texas A&M International University.

Instead, it found that depression influences children and teens levels of aggression and violence.

The study’s dismissal of violent video games as a risk factor in aggression contrasts to some other recent findings, including an analysis of 130 studies on video games and violence released in March by researchers at Iowa State University and colleagues. That analysis concluded the evidence strongly suggests that playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts and behaviors and reduces empathy….

After the researchers adjusted for such variables as exposure to domestic violence, bullying and depressive symptoms, they found exposure to violence in video games or television was not a strong predictor of aggressive behavior or rule-breaking, concluded investigator Dr. Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University.

However, depressive symptoms were a strong predictor for aggression and rule breaking and their influence was particularly strong in young people with preexisting antisocial personality disorders.

“Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth. The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint,” Ferguson wrote.

The study was published online in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.



December 21, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 166 other followers

%d bloggers like this: