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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
As teenagers across the country head back to school, many are starting what will be yet another year of little sleep. But consider this: A consistent lack of shuteye can be much more serious than feeling fatigued in biology.
Studies show sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for things like car accidents and can lead to poor academic performance and ill health. Citing this topic as an “important public health issue,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation that middle schools and high schools start classes at or after 8:30 a.m. to allow students the chance to get more sleep regularly.
“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in an AAP press release.
The AAP states that the optimal amount of sleep time for teens is between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours per night. But as students get older and responsibilities pile up, a mix of homework, extracurricular activities, and after-school jobs leads to even later nights, which can make it very difficult to meet the sleep goal.
The possibility of making this policy change in schools across the nation is also tough. School districts struggle with financial and logistical challenges that include providing school busing services for elementary, middle, and high schools. It can be difficult for enough buses to shuttle kids to all of the schools in one time frame, which can also strain school district budgets. Ultimately, “the issue is really cost,” Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told the AP.
Does your child’s lack of sleep affect her performance at school? Take a look at these tips to boost her school success.
Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.
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American Academy of Pediatrics, high school, homework, middle school, new research, research, school, sleep, teen drivers, teenagers, teens | Categories:
New Research, Parents News Now
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Caffeine, whether consumed in sweet coffee drinks, energy drinks, or sodas, can have serious negative health effects on children and young teens, including high blood pressure and risk of heart disease. More from Today.com:
Even low doses of caffeine — equivalent to what you’d find in a half to a full can of soda or a cup of coffee — had an effect on kids’ blood pressure and heart rates.
And, interestingly, researchers found that the stimulant had more potent heart and blood pressure effects in boys than girls after puberty. The results were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
It’s those kinds of cardiovascular effects that most worry experts, with some going so far as to say that they think caffeinated drinks should be eschewed until children hit their late teens.
“There are lots of things we can’t do because we’re not old enough or mature enough,” said Dr. Kevin Shannon, a professor of pediatric cardiology and director of pediatric arrhythmia at the Mattel Children’s Hospital of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Caffeine should probably be added to that list.”
The new study examined the effects of low doses of caffeine in 52 children aged 8-9 and 49 children aged 15-17. In the younger kids, gender made no difference. But in the older group, the stimulant’s effects were felt more strongly by the boys.
Caffeine slowed heart rates and increased blood pressure in all the children. Though the slowed heart rate might sound counterintuitive, it’s not a new finding, said the study’s lead author Jennifer Temple, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
At low doses the heart slows down to compensate for rising blood pressure, Temple explained. At higher doses, the heart speeds up.
“This study shows that what we would consider to be a low dose of caffeine — what some might not think twice about giving to an 8-year-old — is having an effect on the cardiovascular system,” Temple said. “And right now we don’t have enough data in kids to know what the long term effects of repeated exposure to caffeine would be.”
Image: Frozen coffee drink, via Shutterstock
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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
Friday, June 6th, 2014
Teens–especially young women–who get multiple blistering sunburns during their teenage years may be at greater risk of developing the serious skin cancer melanoma as adults, according to new research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. More from The New York Times:
The new research found that women who had at least five blistering sunburns during their teenage years had a greater likelihood of developing any of the three main forms of skin cancer. But the risk was particularly high for melanoma, which kills an estimated 8,800 Americans a year.
Women who were consistently exposed to high amounts of ultraviolet radiation as adults did not have an increased risk for melanoma. But they did have more than double the risk of developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma, two common but less lethal forms of skin cancer.
The findings, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, were based on an analysis of 109,000 Caucasian women who were followed for 20 years as part of the nationwide Nurses’ Health Study II. Throughout the study, the women routinely provided details about their medical histories, as well as information on things like their use of tanning beds and any sunburns or moles on their skin.
Researchers urge parents to protect their children from chronic sun exposure, and teach kids the importance of sun protection–in the form of sunscreens as well as protective clothing–from an early age.
Image: Teens at the beach, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
A new study by British researchers will be the largest-ever to examine whether chronic use of mobile phones and other wireless devices affects kids’ and teenagers’ brain development. Reuters has more:
The Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones, or SCAMP, project will focus on cognitive functions such as memory and attention, which continue to develop into adolescence – just the age when teenagers start to own and use personal phones.
While there is no convincing evidence that radio waves from mobile phones affect health, to date most scientific research has focused on adults and the potential risk of brain cancers.
Because of that, scientists are uncertain as to whether children’s developing brains may be more vulnerable than adults’ brains – partly because their nervous systems are still developing, and partly because they are likely to have a higher cumulative exposure over their lifetimes.
“Scientific evidence available to date is reassuring and shows no association between exposure to radiofrequency waves from mobile phone use and brain cancer in adults in the short term – i.e. less than 10 years of use,” said Paul Elliott, director of the Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, who will co-lead the research.
“But the evidence available regarding long term heavy use and children’s use is limited and less clear.”
Mobile phone use is ubiquitous, with the World Health Organisation estimating 4.6 billion subscriptions globally. In Britain, some 70 percent of 11 to 12 year-olds now own a mobile phone, and that figure rises to 90 percent by age 14.
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Image: Teen on cell phones, via Shutterstock
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