Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
Acne, once the affliction of the pre-teenager, is now affecting younger children, according to new treatment guidelines published this month in the journal Pediatrics. The New York Times reports:
In years past, 12 was considered the lower end of the age range for the start of blackheads and whiteheads. With earlier onset of adrenarche (when the adrenal gland awakens) and menarche (first period), the authors of the guidelines suggest, “there appears to be a downward shift in the age at which acne first appears.”
“I’ve definitely seen a shift,” said Dr. Latanya T. Benjamin, a dermatologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, who did not help draft the guidelines. “It’s not uncommon for a 7- or 9-year-old to walk in with the first signs of acne.”
But whether children are experiencing early, or precocious, puberty has been the subject of scientific debate. A more likely cause of the increase in cases, some experts say, is that parents are less tolerant of acne and doctors more willing to provide powerful acne treatments to children.
Image: Girl covering her face, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
A growing number of American boys are experiencing the changes associated with puberty at an earlier age than in the recent past, in a trend that echoes what girls have been experiencing, according to a new study published in the journey Pediatrics. From CNN.com:
In the study, lead author Marcia Herman-Giddens from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health and her colleagues show that boys are starting to sexually develop six months to two years earlier than medical textbooks say is standard.
This research has been a long time coming. Herman-Giddens first documented early puberty in girls in 1997, and several studies have since backed up those findings.
One of the reasons it took so long to do a comprehensive study on early puberty in boys, Herman-Giddens said, is that the onset is more difficult to identify. For girls, breast development and the start of a menstrual cycle are obvious clues. For boys, the onset of puberty comes in the form of enlarged testes and the production of sperm.
Researchers responded: ” ‘Yikes, we don’t want to ask about that!’ ” Herman-Giddens said with a laugh.
But ask they did — 212 practitioners across the country examined more than 4,100 boys aged 6 to 16. The practitioners recorded information on the boys’ genital size and pubic hair appearance.
Image: Tween boy, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 1st, 2012
A new book written by a neurosurgeon advises that tackling in football and heading in soccer should not be allowed until children are 14 years old and are showing signs of reaching puberty. The reason for the recommendation is that those practices are believed to cause concussions that can lead to developmental, learning, and other health problems as children grow. From CNN.com:
“If kids don’t have axillary (underarm) or pubic hair, they aren’t ready to play,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon at Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts and author of a new book, “Concussion and Our Kids.”
“And I have absolutely no problem with parents who want to hold a child out for longer, say 16 or 18.”
No tackling? No body checking before 14?
Heading a soccer ball before 14 in soccer might be sacrificed — if studies eventually bear out the debatable link to concussion — but tackling and body checking essentially define football and hockey.
In Cantu’s words, “These are sports in which smashing into your opponent isn’t just a possibility — it’s the object of the game.”
And there is some substance behind the argument for waiting until 14, says Cantu, not the least of which is protecting young, developing brains. At 14, he says, several things enhance the body’s ability to protect against head trauma.
Before 14, there is a size disparity between the head and the body, causing what concussion experts call a “bobble-head” effect — the head snaps back dramatically after it is hit.
“Our youngsters have big heads on very weak necks and that combination sets up the brain for greater injury,” said Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.
However, around age 14, a child’s skull is about 90% the size of an adult’s, and the neck and body are strong enough to steel the head against the force of a blow, according to Cantu. The more developed the neck muscles, the less dramatically the head (and thus the brain) is rocked after a tackle or a body check.
Image: Child with football, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 5th, 2011
Puberty, the physical transformation from child to adult, is an epic event in a kid’s life.
A new study in the journal Developmental Psychology finds that the timing of that change (how early or late it begins) and the pace at which it takes place have a big impact on a child’s behavior and mood, The Los Angeles Times reports.
From the LA Times:
Researchers followed 364 white boys and 373 white girls for six years through puberty. In girls, they found, both an early timing of puberty (early compared with their same-age peers) and faster tempo (how fast or slow the puberty evolves from start to finish) were linked with problems related to symptoms of depression, anxiety, social withdrawal or vague physical complaints. A faster tempo was also linked to delinquent behaviors, such as lying and cheating.
In boys, faster tempo was linked to more behavioral problems. Boys who started puberty earlier than their peers and progressed through puberty faster than normal experienced the most problems.
The researchers commented that the puberty timeline can vary widely from child to child. From the LA Times:
“The thought is that when the major changes of puberty are compressed into a shorter amount of time, adolescents don’t have enough time to acclimate, so they’re not emotionally or socially ready for all the changes that happen,” the lead author of the study, Kristine Marceau, of Penn State, said in a news release. “This is the explanation that originally was attributed solely to early timing, but we suggest that the same thing also is happening if the rate of puberty is compressed.”
Readers, what do you think? What can parents do to help make these changes easier on kids?
(image via: http://www.wholeheartedparenting.com)
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