Archive for October, 2015

Alarming Percentage of Young Adults Use E-Cigarettes, Says CDC

More than one in every five adults between 18 and 24 years old have tried using electronic cigarettes, according to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were presented as part of the agency’s National Health Interview Survey in 2014, and reported in this news article.

teen e-cigarette useThe survey was conducted on close to 37,000 adults, who were asked if they have tried using e-cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, and if they are currently using the smoking device. Results revealed that about 13 percent of U.S. adults have tried e-cigarettes, while 4 percent have admitted to be using them at the present.

What troubles the agency, though, is the disparity in the usage per age group. While the members of the older generation (i.e. at least 65 years old) have tried the device at least once, the figure for young adults aged 18 to 24 was at 22 percent. In terms of current use, more than 5 percent of young adults admit to use electronic cigs now, significantly higher than the one percent of elders.

Despite the conduct of the survey on an annual basis, this marks the first time that questions on e-cigarette use were asked. “This was the first year that the NCHS has even asked these questions. So we can only speculate as to why, as we watch to see how the trends unfold over time,” said study co-author Charlotte Schoenborn, who also works at the CDC’s U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

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Kids May Be Exposed To Illicit Drugs That Look Like Halloween Candy

As kids and parents prepare for Halloween, law enforcement authorities are warning the public about an imminent danger that might lure your children to ingest illicit drugs without their knowledge.

halloween candy illegal drugsAccording to a news article, a Florida police department recently shared a picture of a seemingly innocent-looking candy that is actually ecstasy in disguise. Manufacturers of this illegal drug have resorted to creating different variants to attract potential users, and shaping them like colorful candies is one such practice.

The police department in the Town of Menasha, Wisconsin is warning parents to be alert in checking what their children are eating. Community liaison officer Jason Weber confirmed that illegal drugs in the market may be misconstrued as regular candy by untrained eyes. However, he was quick to mention that the likelihood of candy-like drugs getting mixed with regular candy during trick or treat is very slim. In fact, the police department hasn’t had any cases of candy poisoning during Halloween for the past 25 years.

Weber advised parents to accompany their kids when they go trick or treat, and always check the candy before letting them eat it. You can always decide to throw the candy away if you suspect that it’s laced with illegal drugs.

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Juvenile Correctional Facilities Expose Teenage Offenders To High Doses of Psychiatric Drugs

Kids sent to correctional facilities may be at a high risk of excessive use of psychiatric drugs, according to a recent news report.

teen fight juvenile offender psychiatric drugsA review by investigative news organization PublicSource revealed that juvenile offenders are given psychiatric medication — antipsychotic drugs, to be more specific — at alarmingly high doses. The review said that the amount of antipsychotic drugs ordered by youth correctional facilities was enough to treat about a third of the kids confined in their respective centers over a span of seven years. In contrast, antipsychotic prescription in kids across the U.S. only amount to 1-2 percent of the child population.

The most probable reason behind this high psychiatric drug use in correctional institutions is the instant calming effect of the drugs on potentially troublesome kids. “Most of antipsychotic use is likely for sedation and behavioral control,” according to Dr. Mark Olfson, who led the PublicSource review. Olfson works at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Some juvenile law experts believe that this highlights the need for a radical change in the way correctional institutions think about treating kids. “The great concern among children’s advocates is that … too often the medications are used to the benefit of the institution to control behavior in ways that are not appropriate,” said Juvenile Law Center co-founder Robert Schwartz. Olfson agrees, saying that “the new findings will hopefully spur much-needed institutional reforms.”

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CDC Releases Data on Teenage Drug Use: Less Smoking, More Marijuana

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a statement saying that 30 percent of teenagers – regardless of ethnicity — engage in smoking cigarettes or marijuana. This was based on data comparing teenage smoking figures between 1997 and 2013.

teen smokingIn specific substances, the rate of smoking tobacco cigarettes in teenagers decreased from 20.5 percent to a little over 7 percent. While this may sound like good news, the figures for teen marijuana use isn’t pleasant. From only 4 percent of teenagers engaged in marijuana use in 1997, it has since shot up to 10 percent by 2013. In addition, the rate of teenagers smoking both cigarettes and marijuana has increased from 51 percent to 62 percent.

CDC Office on Smoking and Health director Dr. Tim McAfee emphasized the misinformation on marijuana as one of the probable causes behind this alarming figure. “Over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a change in public perception of marijuana… There is the idea that marijuana is not something you need to worry about,” McAfee said in a news article.

Despite the increase in marijuana use, there is still reason to celebrate, particularly in terms of curbing cigarette use by teenagers. “This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened,” said Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids VP for communications Vince Willmore.

Details of the study were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by CDC.

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Study Investigates Effect of Drugs On A Teenager’s Brain

During adolescence, the brain is actively undergoing development, with much of the formative brain functioning and cognitive skills being established. Unfortunately, the teenage brain is also susceptible to wrong choices, and this includes drug use that may inhibit or impair proper brain development.

effect of drugs on teen brainThis is the reason behind the recent initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to spearhead a comprehensive study on the effect of certain substances on the adolescent brain. Some of the substances identified to be part of the study include marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.

In this light, NIH has handpicked researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder to join the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. This series of studies aims to look into how drugs can affect the development of teenage brains. The university plans to do this by using the resources of the Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium, in collaboration with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics and the Institute of Cognitive Science.

CU-Boulder professor and Institute of Cognitive Science director Marie Banich said that the breakthrough study could provide answers to some of the most essential questions surrounding teen health and drug use. “Adolescence is a time when the brain is quite sensitive to environmental influences, and the way the brain gets wired during this developmental period has lifelong implications,” Banich said via a news item.

The study will be financially supported by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), and its results may change future policies on health and education.

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New Testing Method Helps To Determine Risk of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases in Teenagers

The world’s leading diseases can be identified as early as adolescence, and that’s why a new study seeks to promote early intervention through its breakthrough testing method.

teen healthA team of researchers led by Dr. Mark DeBoer of the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital formulated a test on teenagers that can predict the likelihood of heart diseases and diabetes in the future. The test, described in two studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Diabetologia, looks into a person’s metabolic syndrome status. This parameter pinpoints specific health factors that affect cardiovascular health.

The test was created in reference to blood pressure, body mass index, fasting triglyceride levels, fasting glucose levels, and good cholesterol levels in kids with an average age of 12.9 years. The scope of the study included children at the Cincinnati Clinic of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lipids Research Clinic (LRC) from 1973 to 1976. Health monitoring was done on the children as they grew up to adulthood, through the Princeton Follow-up Study (1998-2003) and the Princeton Health Update (PHU) study (2010-2014). Average age of the study respondents was 38.4 years for the first follow-up study, and 49.6 years for the second study.

Based on study results as reported in a news item, the researchers discovered that the metabolic syndrome severity score showed high accuracy in determining the risk of diabetes and heart ailments. “We are hopeful that this score can be used to assess the baseline risk for adolescents regarding metabolic syndrome and their risk for future disease and use it as a motivator for individuals to try to change their risk so that they may have a healthier diet, engage in more physical activity or get medication to reduce their metabolic syndrome severity and their future risk for disease,” DeBoer said.

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