Monday, November 18th, 2013
Boys are slightly more likely than girls to be born prematurely, a new international study on newborn health has found. Additionally, boys don’t tend to fare as well as girls world-wide. More from The Associated Press:
“This is a double whammy for boys,” said Dr. Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who led the team of researchers. “It’s a pattern that happens all over the world.”
The gender difference isn’t large: About 55 percent of preterm births in 2010 were male, the report found. Nor is it clear exactly why it happens.
The finding comes from a series of international studies being published Friday that examine newborn health and prematurity. About 15 million babies worldwide are born too soon, most of them in Africa and parts of Asia where survival is difficult for fragile newborns. Globally, about 1 million babies die as a direct result of preterm birth and another million die of conditions for which prematurity is an added risk, the researchers calculated.
Friday’s report offers some of the first estimates of how many preemie survivors go on to suffer certain disabilities, and found that where these babies are born, and how early, determines their risk.
Overall, Lawn said about 7 percent of survivors have two of the most burdensome disabilities: neurologic-developmental impairment ranging from learning disabilities to cerebral palsy, and vision loss.
But the biggest risk is to the youngest preemies, those born before 28 weeks gestation. Worldwide, 52 percent of them are estimated to have some degree of neurodevelopmental impairment, the report found.
Moreover, the risk of impairment in middle-income countries is double that of wealthy countries like the U.S.
For example, China is saving more preemies’ lives but at the cost of their vision, Lawn said.
Middle-income countries are missing out on a lesson the U.S. learned the hard way several decades ago, that giving these tiny babies too much oxygen can trigger a potentially blinding condition called retinopathy of prematurity.
“Disability is not something that’s inevitable. It’s preventable,” she said, calling for improved quality of care including eye checks to prevent or reduce vision loss.
The March of Dimes reported this month that 11.5 percent of U.S. births now are preterm. That rate is inching down, thanks mostly to fewer babies being born just a few weeks early as standards for elective deliveries have tightened, but it still is higher than in similar countries.
Image: Newborn baby, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 18th, 2013
The number of teenagers who say they have tried smoking cigarettes has stabilized over the past year, but those who says they have tried nicotine by using electronic cigarettes–a habit known as “vaping”–has doubled in that same period of time, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also revealed that an increasing number of teens are smoking flavored tobacco at hookah lounges, or smoking cigars–all before they are legally allowed to use tobacco products at age 18. More from Boston.com:
This bad news, reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, puts even more pressure on the government to strictly regulate e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco as stringently as they regulate cigarettes….
….Unfortunately, e-cigarettes are cheaper, easier to access, and marketed more heavily to young people than traditional cigarettes, which fuels the teen vaping trend according to the CDC’s senior scientific adviser Brian King.
New rules are expected to be issued within the next few months by the US Food and Drug Administration, but no one knows how tough they will be.
About 90 percent of adult smokers become addicted to tobacco by the time they finish high school, so public health experts believe efforts to keep teens from lighting up could be the ultimate solution to solving the nation’s smoking problem once and for all.
The CDC report was based on a 2012 survey of nearly 25,000 middle and high school students in the United States and found that e-cigarette use increased among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012. The percentage of high school students smoking e-cigarettes increased in one year from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, and those smoking hookahs increased to 5.4 percent from 4.1 percent.
“These percentages may seen low, but they account for nearly 2 million students,” King said, many of whom mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are harmless and that hookah use is safer than cigarettes. King stressed that the tobacco burned and inhaled from hookahs may deliver even more harmful carcinogens, and e-cigarettes are like the “wild, wild west” with no one knowing exactly what they contain.
Image: Electronic cigarettes, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Parenting News, Safety, Trends
Friday, November 15th, 2013
A Florida principal is in agreement with the mother of a seventh-grader who was placed on the honor roll despite having a C and a D on his report card that the placement was misguided and should be reversed. More from ABC News:
Principal Kim Anderson of Pasco Middle School in Dade City, Fla., was siding with Beth Tillack who was upset that her seventh grade son Douglas was on the honor roll and his report card came with a teacher’s comment, “good job” and a smiley face.
The principal said that 45 percent to 50 percent of the school’s students are on the honor roll. She said it was a “difficult situation” and that Beth Tillack was justified in questioning policies surrounding the school’s standards and system of assessment.
“I do agree with her,” said Anderson. “I feel it’s important for students to progress by meeting standards. We measure them by standards, they know if they’ve met them or not. Sometimes grades don’t always indicate that.”
The Pasco Middle School honor roll system is based on a weighted grade point averages, meaning that the 3.16 average Douglas Tillack achieved overall for his four A’s, a C and a D, just pushed him over the honors requirement line, which is set at 3.15.
Theoretically, children could get an F and still qualify for the honor roll, said Anderson, which is problematic when a child might not be motivated to perform like they should.
“Her son is a bright boy and can do the work. There are choices he’s making,” Anderson said. “He knows exactly what he can get away with. Maybe this is a wake-up call that there are higher expectations.”
Beth Tillack told ABC News affiliate WFTS that when she saw the report card and the honor roll notice, “I immediately assumed it’s a mistake. It was glaring in the fact that it said ‘good job’ and then there was a D.”
Tillack said that after her complaint, the school reissued the card, replacing “good job” with “Work on civics. Ask for help.”
“The bottom line is there’s nothing honorable about making a D,” said Tillack. “I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he’s done enough?”
Image: Report card, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 14th, 2013
The blogosphere has lit up over the writings of a South Dakota mom whose blog went from 8 followers to more than 750,000 hits after she wrote a post advocating that boys should be allowed to play with guns, said kids who are being bullied should “toughen up,” and lamented a culture of over-protective parents. More from ABC News:
Stephanie Metz’s maternal outburst has the provocative title, “Why My Kids Are NOT The Center Of My World.”
“I think a lot of people have kids and raising kids is never easy,” Metz, 29, of Rapid City, S.D., told ABC News. “There are many viewpoints, but I think a lot of people agreed with what I said and they just want to share my post.”
Metz was inspired to write her post on Oct. 25 after her son Hendrix, 4, (she has another son Jameson, 2) decided to bring a different object to show and tell, after he told his mother his initial choice may resemble a weapon. That original toy, which is pictured below, may get him in trouble, he told his mother.
This, she writes, is what infuriates her. “How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school?” she worries.
“The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me, friends,” Metz writes in her blog.
Metz warns parents that constantly sheltering their children and protecting them from all things “evil” sets a child up for failure.
“Kids are being raised to never have to deal with adversity,” Metz told ABC News. “I don’t think we are raising a generation that will be able to function in the real world.”
“Society is constantly coddling your kids,” Metz said. For example, she says, kids are awarded with trophies even if they didn’t win.
Some of her blog examines the topic of bullying, for which Metz said she has received the most backlash about.
“Understand I am not condoning kids to be cruel to each other, but I think kids need to toughen up when kids are not nice to them,” Metz said.
Read one reaction to Metz’s post here, in which the writer argues that the culture of protection and reaction against all forms of bullying is “more reaction than cause.”
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
A decade ago, 60 percent of American college students used condoms when having sex, but that number has fallen since. This discouraging news comes at the same time as reports of rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, with half of new STD diagnoses coming from young people. More from Time.com:
A recent study released by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada found that nearly 50% of sexually active college students aren’t using condoms. Other reports have foundthat while teenagers are likely to use a condom the first time they have sex, their behavior becomes inconsistent after that.
Health officials from Oregon to Georgia are ringing alarm bells about rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, worried that kids aren’t getting the message. Sex education is more robust than it was for previous generations, but a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report revealed that while nearly 90% of high schools are teaching students about abstinence and STDs, fewer than 60% are providing lessons about contraception methods.
The CDC estimates that half of new STD infections occur among young people. Americans ages 15 to 24 contract chlamydia and gonorrhea at four times the rate of the general population, and those in their early 20s have the highest reported cases of syphilis and HIV. Young men and women are more likely than older people to report having no sex in the past year, yet those who are having sex are more likely to have multiple partners, which increases the risk of STDs.
“We need to do better as a nation,” says Laura Kann, an expert in youth risk behaviors at the CDC. “Far too many kids in this country continue to be infected with HIV and continue to be at risk.”
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged high schools to make condoms available to students, citing STDs as a main concern.
Image: Condom, via Shutterstock
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Education, New Research, Parenting News, Trends