Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges [news release]

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges.

From the 2 June 2015 Northwestern University news release

National survey explores how and why teens use online health information and digital tools

June 2, 2015 | by Julie Deardorff

EVANSTON, Ill. — At a time when teenagers are grappling with new and often confusing health concerns, the overwhelming majority — 84 percent — turn to the Internet, according to the first national study in more than a decade to examine how adolescents use digital tools for health information.

But while most teens tap online sources to learn more about puberty, drugs, sex, depression and other issues, a surprising 88 percent said they do not feel comfortable sharing their health concerns with Facebook friends or on other social networking sites, according to the study by Northwestern University researchers.

The report yields important information for public health organizations trying to reach adolescents. Nearly one third of the teenagers surveyed said the online information led to behavior changes, such as cutting back on soda, trying healthier recipes and using exercise to combat depression. One in five teens surveyed, or 21 percent, meanwhile, have downloaded mobile health apps.

“We found some real surprises about what teens are doing online when it comes to their health,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

“We often hear about all the negative things kids are doing online, but teens are using the Internet to take care of themselves and others around them,” said Wartella, the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication in Northwestern’s School of Communication.

“The new study underscores how important it is to make sure there is accurate, appropriate and easily accessible information available to teens, because it’s used and acted upon.”**

– See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/06/teens-turn-to-internet-to-cope-with-health-challenges.html#sthash.kXrBqfZl.dpuf

**Related Resources

KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens. KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens

 

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Medline Plus (National Insitutes of Health)  is a great starting point for reliable health information.Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information on drugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provide health informationSurgery videosinteractive health tutorials, and more. 

Image DetailThe CDC is the US government’s primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….

 

 

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults

From the 12 February 2014 Full Text Reports item

American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults
Source: American Psychological Association

American teens report experiences with stress that follow a similar pattern as adults, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month. For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.

Findings from Stress in America™: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive Inc., (on behalf of APA) among 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens in the U.S. in August 2013, suggest that unhealthy behaviors associated with stress may begin manifesting early in people’s lives.

Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens versus 5.1 for adults). Even during the summer — between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, 2013, when interviewing took place — teens reported their stress during the past month at levels higher than what they believe is healthy (4.6 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale). Many teens also report feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired (36 percent) and nearly one-quarter of teens (23 percent) report skipping a meal due to stress.

Despite the impact that stress appears to have on their lives, teens are more likely than adults to report that their stress level has a slight or no impact on their body or physical health (54 percent of teens versus 39 percent of adults) or their mental health (52 percent of teens versus 43 percent of adults).

 

 

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February 13, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] ‘Yes’ to One Drug Could Become ‘Yes’ for Other Drugs

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 8 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

High school seniors who frown upon the use of drugs are most likely to be female, nonsmokers or hold strong religious beliefs, according to a study¹ by Joseph Palamar of New York University. Palamar examines how teenagers’ attitudes toward marijuana influenced their thoughts on the further use of other illicit drugs. The work appears online in the journal Prevention Science², published by Springer.

The study was conducted as marijuana use continues to be on the upswing in the United States, along with more lenient legislation and diminishing public disapproval toward its use. Although previous research has shown that people who disapprove of a particular drug will in all likelihood not use it, little is known about how the use of one drug affects people’s attitudes toward using other drugs.

Palamar therefore examined how demographics and a lifetime use of various drugs — marijuana use in particular — can predict if a person will become partial to using “harder” and more dangerous drugs, such as powder cocaine, crack, LSD, heroin, amphetamine and ecstasy, also known as “Molly.” Data was obtained from 29,054 high school seniors who took part in the Monitoring the Future annual cross-sectional survey of approximately 130 public and private schools in 48 states between 2007 and 2011.

Palamar found that youths who smoked cigarettes or used more than one “hard” drug were consistently less critical of other drug use. The lifetime use of alcohol had no impact on people’s attitudes. Those who used only marijuana tended to be less judgmental of further using such so-called “socially acceptable” drugs as LSD, amphetamine and ecstasy. They did not approve of cocaine, crack or heroin, however, most likely because of their perceived dangers and addictive qualities.

Unsurprisingly, female high school seniors consistently disapproved of using cocaine, crack, LSD and ecstasy. Compared to their male counterparts, females are generally less likely to use most drugs. Palamar was also not surprised by the finding that religiosity robustly increased attitudes against drug use, as it is a major force in societal values.

Youths from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds with highly educated parents as well as those living in urban areas were much less disapproving of the use of the so-called “less dangerous” drugs. Palamar believes that the higher prevalence of illicit drug use in urban areas may be helping to normalize drug use in cities.

The finding that Black students are less disapproving of powder cocaine, crack and ecstasy is somewhat paradoxical as members of this group generally use such drugs less than White students do. This could, in part, be explained by their strong religious beliefs and the higher rates of arrests and incarceration among Blacks that may serve as a deterrent. The normalization of ecstasy, specifically in rap and hip-hop music, may explain why Black youths are less disapproving of it.

“Public health and policy experts need to ensure that the use of other drugs does not increase in light of the growing prevalence of marijuana use and more lenient policies surrounding it,” Palamar explains. “Although it may be difficult to prevent an adolescent or a young adult from using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, we need to prevent individuals from becoming users of multiple drugs.”

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Use in Adolescence May Cause Permanent Brain Abnormalities, Mouse Study Suggests

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

While I believe the so called War on Drugs has largely been a failure, I am concerned about young folks indulging in substances that can have permanent health effects.

 

 

 

From the 24 July 2013 article at Science News Daily

 

Regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair brain function and cognition, and may increase the risk of developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, according to a recent study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Researchers hope that the study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology — a publication of the journal Nature — will help to shed light on the potential long-term effects of marijuana use, particularly as lawmakers in Maryland and elsewhere contemplate legalizing the drug.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging,” says the study’s senior author Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger.”

“Adolescence is the critical period during which marijuana use can be damaging,” says the study’s lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We wanted to identify the biological underpinnings and determine whether there is a real, permanent health risk to marijuana use.”

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July 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

High school years hard on adolescent health, with spikes in drinking, smoking and drug use: Canada study

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Roots of Newtown, Part II: Purposeless boys

 

The Fly

Come back Mom and Dad

You’re growing apart; you know that I’m growing up sad

I need some attention

I shoot into the light.

– Peter Gabriel, “Family Snapshot”

Purposeless boys are dangerous.

Michael Gurian, in his book The Purpose of Boys (2010), lists some of the effects of the growing population of boys without purpose.

  • For every 100 girls in public schools, 335 boys are expelled.
  • For every 100 girls ages 15-19 who commit suicide, 549 boys in the same age range kill themselves.
  • For every 100 women ages 18-21 in correctional facilities, there are 1,430 men behind bars.
  • For every 100 American women who earn a bachelor’s degree, 73 American men earn the same degree.

The key, Gurian points out, is that all boys intuitively crave being a part of, and contributing to, something that gives them status, respect, and purpose.Boys playing. Without a proper path to purpose…

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February 2, 2013 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Troubled Teens Could Benefit from Online Access to Health Records, Say Researchers

 

From the 22 October 2012 article at ScienceDaily

 

 Online health records could be surprisingly useful for at-risk teenagers who cycle through the juvenile justice system. A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center found that these young people have high rates of Internet use and an unexpectedly favorable attitude toward accessing their health records online.

Teens who get in trouble with the law could particularly benefit from online health records because they generally have worse health than other adolescents — and no one keeping track of the health care they do receive. These teens’ health problems range from spotty immunization histories to chronic diseases such as asthma, sexually transmitted infections, mental illnesses and substance abuse. And not only do poverty, difficult relationships with their parents and frequent moves make it hard for them to get consistent health care, these problems also increase the chances that doctors who are treating them will not have access to their medical histories..

The teens were enthusiastic about the option, with 90 percent saying it would be useful to have their health information automatically put online so they could access it later.

“I didn’t expect this level of interest because they don’t typically think of health as something that’s part of their daily lives,” Anoshiravani said, adding that these teens engage in risky behaviors that make them seem cavalier about their health.

These teens’ need for reliable and accessible health records is made even more urgent because they often do not have family members overseeing health-related chores, such as tracking immunizations and medications, checking lab results or recording their medical history. The lack of records is a problem not just in the short term but also when these teens reach adulthood, especially for those who survived serious medical events in childhood. “They may turn 18 and not know they were born with a heart defect that was surgically repaired,” Anoshiravani said.

Contrast that situation to a typical teenager. “A parent or grandparent is going with them to the doctor and keeping their health records,” Anoshiravani said, noting that troubled teens don’t have that help. And it’s not realistic to expect these teens to keep a hard copy of their medical file. “Carrying around pieces of paper that they could lose did not make sense to them, but having a place to check this information online did make a lot of sense,” he added.

The researchers were surprised to find that the teenagers would also share online health records: The vast majority of the respondents were willing to share their records with doctors and half said they would want to share the information with their parents.

The next step, Anoshiravani said, is to implement and test online health records for at-risk teens. The biggest challenge will revolve around the issue of information-sharing, since minors’ parents are entitled to see some parts of their health records, while other types of records cannot be shared with parents without the patients’ consent….

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October 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kids.gov – Health, Science, and Safety Information for Children, Parents, and Teachers

 

Kids.gov is the U.S. government’s website for children (grades K-8). Kids, parents, and teachers can use the site to get help with homework, access lesson plans, watch videos, play games, and more.
Some highlights

Exercise and Eating Healthy

Health and Safety

Online Safety

Science


If you’ve visited Kids.gov previously, you’ll notice that the website has been completely redesigned. The vibrant new site provides areas for three specific audiences: kids (grades K-5), teens (grades 6-8), and grown-ups (teachers and parents).

Kids.gov is the U.S. government’s website for children (grades K-8). Kids, parents, and teachers can use the site to get help with homework, access lesson plans, watch videos, play games, and more. 

If you’ve visited Kids.gov previously, you’ll notice that the website has been completely redesigned. The vibrant new site provides areas for three specific audiences: kids (grades K-5), teens (grades 6-8), and grown-ups (teachers and parents).

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School) | , , , , , , , | 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

Fewer Young People Smoking, Drinking and Using Drugs – New survey reveals encouraging trend

Heaven knows I post enough somewhat depressing health statistics items…
Here’s some good news for a change..and an example of a public health measure that seems to have worked (as always be careful when inferring cause/effect!)

From the 31 May 2012 Health Canada press release (via an RSS feed I subscribe to…Full Text Reports)

May 31, 2012
For immediate release

OTTAWA – According to the latest results of the Youth Smoking Survey, only three per cent of Canadian students in grades 6-12 said they smoked daily in 2010-2011, down from 4% in 2008-2009.

The school-based survey also found that fewer students have even tried cigarettes once; a decline among those who had ever tried little cigars; and a drop in the percent of students reporting using alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

“After seeing smoking rates hit historic lows in Canada recently, these new statistics are encouraging,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “In particular, the drop in little cigar smoking suggests that the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act is having an impact on consumption of these products by youth.”

The Youth Smoking Survey, funded by Health Canada and conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, is a survey of Canadian youth in grades 6-12 that captures information related to tobacco, alcohol and drug use. Among the findings for 2010-2011:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of youth in grades 6-12 said they have never tried smoking a cigarette, not even a puff, a significant increase from 67% in 2008-2009.
  • Among younger students, just 2% of those in grades 6-9 smoked daily or occasionally, the lowest smoking rate recorded by the survey since it began, in 1994.
  • Just 6% of youth in grades 6-9 had ever tried smoking little cigars, a significant decrease from 10% in the previous survey. Similarly, in grades 10-12, 26% of youth reported having ever tried smoking little cigars, also a significant decrease from 35% in 2008-2009.
  • Among students in grades 7-12, alcohol use in the past 12 months fell to 45% from 53% in 2008-2009. Although one-third (33%) of students in the past year reported binge drinking (i.e., five or more drinks on one occasion), this is a significant decrease from 39% in 2008-2009.
  • Cannabis use was reported by 21% of students in grades 7-12, compared to 27% in 2008-2009. There were also significant decreases in the use of MDMA (ecstasy), hallucinogens and salvia, and in the abuse of psychoactive pharmaceuticals.

These and other results of the survey are available on Health Canada’s website.

In recent years, the Government of Canada has taken steps to reduce smoking among Canadian youth. The Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, in force since 2010, prohibits the sale of little cigars and blunt wraps in packages of fewer than 20 units, and prohibits the sale of little cigars and other tobacco products that contain specified additives, including most flavouring agents.

June 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The conundrum between maturity and ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature

Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve often wondered if populations and sub-populations can be over-diagnosed or misdiagnosed.
At times this can happen with good intentions, sometimes I fear for the sake of profit….

From the 10 April posting by MATTHEW TOOHEY, MD at KevinMD.com

A recent Canadian study showed that the youngest children in each grade (born in the earliest month of the Canadian grade cutoff: December) were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children (born in January). For girls, who overall have a lower incidence of ADHD, the difference was even more pronounced: 70%.

Interestingly, the overall rate of ADHD diagnosis in the sampling of children from this Canadian study (900,000 children) was 6.9% for boys and 2.2% for girls. Rates of diagnosis here in the United States are much higher, creeping up on 10% of all children.

What does all of this mean? Well, you can look at this data many different ways, depending on your point of view and feelings about ADHD, but it stresses to me what seems to be common sense: many factors play into our expectations of what normal behavior should be.  It is often the school which prompts parents to have their child evaluated for attention problems and this comes from a comparison to other children in the class. A six year old may be significantly less mature or able to stay on task than a seven year old. Likewise, boys tend to have more trouble with the expectations of the school environment than girls in the younger grades….

April 11, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents Becoming More Common

 

Schematic Examples of CNS Structural Changes i...

Schematic Examples of CNS Structural Changes in chronic pain.jpg http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schematic_Examples_of_CNS_Structural_Changes_in_chronic_pain.jpg Borsook D, Moulton EA, Schmidt KF, Becerra LR.

 

 

From the 9 December 2011 Medical News Today article

Children who suffer from persistent or recurring chronic pain may miss school, withdraw from social activities, and are at risk of developing internalizing symptoms such as anxiety, in response to their pain. In the first comprehensive review of chronic pain in children and adolescents in 20 years, a group of researchers found that more children now are suffering from chronic pain and that girls suffer more frequently from chronic pain than boys.

Their findings indicate that most types of pain are more prevalent in girls than in boys, but the factors that influence this gender difference are not entirely clear. Pain prevalence rates tend to increase with age. Psychosocial variables impacting pain prevalence included anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and low socioeconomic status. Headache was found to be the most common studied pain type in youth, with an estimated prevalence rate of 23%. Other types of pain, ie, abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, and pain combinations, were less frequently studied than headache, and prevalence rates were variable because of differences in reporting. However, the overall results indicated that these pain types are highly prevalent in children and adolescents, with median prevalence rates ranging from 11% to 38%. “These rates are of great concern, but what is even more concerning is that research suggests that the prevalence rates of childhood pain have increased over the last several decades,” stated Dr. King.

Researchers also found that many studies did not meet quality criteria and there was great variability in prevalence rates across studies due to time periods over which pain was reported……

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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