Friday, June 13th, 2014
Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors. More from NBC News:
The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.
On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.
And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.
But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.
“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.
“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”
Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Monday, May 19th, 2014
Women who smoke during pregnancy may be putting their babies at greater risk of ADHD and other disorders in which impulse control is compromised. A new study may have identified the specific brain changes that are behind this risk. More from Reuters:
People whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had weaker responses in the regions of their brains known to be involved in inhibition control, compared to those whose mothers didn’t smoke, researchers found.
Inhibition control relates to how people keep their impulses in check and resist distractions in certain situations.
“What’s quite surprising is to find such a reliable effect of prenatal smoke exposure that occurred 25 years before,” Nathalie Holz said.
Holz is the study’s lead author from Mannheim/Heidelberg University in Germany.
She and her colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry that about 22 percent of European women smoke and about half of them continue to smoke during pregnancy.
Smoking while pregnant has been tied to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among kids. Children with the condition usually have trouble concentrating and controlling their impulses.
“Now we were interested in what the specific mechanisms are behind this association,” Holz said.
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Image: Pregnant woman smoking, via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 25th, 2014
A proposal by the US Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors is under consideration, news sources are reporting. The new rules would ban sales, but would not prohibit online sales or advertising aimed at minors. More from Reuters:
The long-awaited proposal, which would subject the $2 billion industry to federal regulation for the first time, is not as restrictive as some companies had feared and will likely take years to become fully effective.
Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said the proposal is “positive for industry.”
But public health advocates lamented the fact that the proposal does not take aim at e-cigarette advertising or sweetly-flavored products, which they say risk introducing a new generation of young people to conventional cigarettes when little is known about the long-term health impact of the electronic devices.
“It’s very disappointing because they don’t do anything to rein in the wild-west marketing that is targeting kids,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor at the Center of Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said at a briefing on Wednesday that the proposal represented the first “foundational” step toward broader restrictions if scientific evidence shows they are needed to protect public health.
The number of teenagers who have tried electronic cigarettes has doubled in the past year, and if the ban is approved, the U.S. would join Britain in prohibiting minors from buying the devices.
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Monday, April 21st, 2014
New styles of flavored cigars are appealing to young people in ways cigars previously hadn’t, drawing many into a smoking habit even as cigarette use is declining among American youth. More from Reuters:
“The cigar market is the most heavily flavored of all tobacco products,” said Cristine D. Delnevo, who led the research. “For decades, tobacco industry internal documents have highlighted that flavors appeal to youth and young people.”
Delnevo, who directs the Center for Tobacco Surveillance & Evaluation Research at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health investigated recent market and survey data on flavored cigar use among young people.
Delnevo and her coauthors analyzed an annual survey of drug and alcohol use among Americans ages 12 and up. For this study, the researchers selected the 6,700 survey responders in 2010 and 2011 who reported smoking cigars in the previous month and had noted their usual brand.
They found that 8 percent of men and 2 percent of women said they had smoked a cigar in the past 30 days, but 11 percent of people between ages 18 and 25 years old had smoked a cigar – more than any other age group.
Three quarters of cigar smokers reported a usual brand that offers flavored varieties, according to the results published in the journal Tobacco Control.
Image: Cigar, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Boys who start smoking before age 11–very young smokers–are far more likely to have sons who battle weight and obesity issues, according to a new British study. The finding puts emphasis on a growing body of research supporting the idea that childhood habits can affect the health of offspring years down the line. More from Reuters:
The scientists said the findings, part of ongoing work in a larger “Children of the 90s” study, could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before the start of puberty in men may lead to metabolic changes in the next generation.
“This discovery of transgenerational effects has big implications for research into the current rise in obesity and the evaluation of preventative measures,” said Marcus Pembrey, a professor of genetics at University College London, who led the study and presented its findings at a briefing on Wednesday.
Smoking rates in Britain and some other parts of Europe are on the decline, but worldwide, almost one billion men smoke – about 35 percent of men in developed countries and 50 percent in developing ones, according to the World Health Organization.
While previous studies in animals and in people have found some transgenerational health impacts, the evidence so far is limited. It points, however, to epigenetics – a process where lifestyle and environmental factors can turn certain genes on or off – having an effect on the health of descendants.
Pembrey said his team’s research was prompted in part by signals from earlier Swedish studies that linked how plentiful a paternal ancestor’s food supply was in mid childhood with future death rates in grandchildren.
For the new study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, the researchers had access to detailed lifestyle, genetic and other health data from 9,886 fathers.
Of these, 5,376, or 54 percent, were smokers at some time and of those, 166, or 3 percent, said they had started smoking regularly before the age of 11.
Looking at the next generation, the team found that at age 13, 15 and 17, the sons of men who started smoking before 11 had the highest Body Mass Index (BMI) scores compared with the sons of men who had started smoking later or who had never smoked.
“These boys had markedly higher levels of fat mass – ranging from an extra five kilograms (kg) to 10kg between ages 13 and 17,” the study said.
Although it was there, the effect was not seen to the same degree in daughters.
Image: Young man smoking, via Shutterstock
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