Monday, July 15th, 2013
Citing reasons ranging from gas and insurance costs to unemployment rates that make payments difficult, fewer teenagers are going for their driver’s license tests as soon as their states allow, according to a new analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration and the Census Bureau. More from Today.com:
The percentage of teens with a driver’s license has fallen significantly over the past few decades, and experts suspect there’s no one explanation for the shift. Instead, they cite a host of reasons, including everything from high gas and insurance prices to more of a willingness to let Mom and Dad drive you around.
“The numbers suggest that fewer teens are wanting to drive,” said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at Kelley Blue Book.
About 28 percent of 16-year-olds had their driver’s license in 2010, compared with about 46 percent of 16-year-olds who were licensed drivers in 1983, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration and the Census Bureau data compiled by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan.
Those numbers go up as teens get older, but today’s older teens are still less likely to be driving than the teens of the 1980s, according to the University of Michigan analysis. About 70 percent of 19-year-olds had their license in 2010, according to the University of Michigan analysis, compared with 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983.
One big potential culprit: Cost. Anyone who’s filled their tank lately knows that it takes more than pocket change to drive around, and that’s not even including insurance and other maintenance. A recent study from InsuranceQuotes.com found that adding a teenage driver to the family car insurance policy can double annual premiums in some states.
Image: Teenage driver, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 12th, 2013
The personality traits your toddler displays, from the way they interact socially to the way they manage their emotions, may predict how likely they are to drink alcohol when they become teenagers, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. More from The Huffington Post:
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“People don’t enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood,” Danielle Dick, a psychologist from at Virginia Commonwealth University and a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand very early childhood predictors of adolescent alcohol use in a large epidemiological cohort.”
For the study, Dick and her colleagues analyzed the results of a long-term study that tracked thousands of newborns in South West England from birth through 15 1/2 years. The dataset included personality information obtained from mothers in the first five years of the child’s life, and from both parents and the subjects themselves thereafter.
The childhood traits that most correlated with alcohol use during teenage years fell on two sides of the temperament spectrum: emotional instability and relatively low sociability on one side, and high sociability on the other — a degree of extroversion that often leads to “sensation seeking” later in life. Tots who were either emotionally challenged or highly extroverted were more likely than other kids to grow into alcohol-drinking teens. (Past research has suggested personality is set by first grade.)
“This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is largely a social phenomenon,” Dick said in a statement. “However, this doesn’t mean it’s less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking is high risk — for example, binge drinking — and can lead to numerous negative consequences.”
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
The rate of infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) has decreased significantly among teenagers since a vaccine against the virus was introduced in 2006. CNN reports on how the decrease in infection rates has surpassed researchers’ expectations and hopes:
“The prevalence of the types of HPV that commonly cause cervical cancer in women has dropped by about half in girls ages 14 to 19,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director. “That decline is even better than we had hoped for.”
Specifically, rates of HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 – the four types covered by the vaccines – have decreased by 56% in young girls.
Those numbers are surprising, said Frieden, because only about a third of girls have gotten all three recommended doses of the vaccine. He suggested that the extra immunity may come from girls who only got one or two doses, or so-called “herd immunity.” That occurs when those who have been vaccinated cause there to be less virus floating around, therefore lowering the risk for those who haven’t been vaccinated.
But despite the good news, Frieden says the CDC had hoped that 80% of girls would be vaccinated by this point, and more needs to be done.
“This should be a wake-up call that we need to increase vaccination rates, because we can protect the next generation of girls from cancer caused by HPV,” said Frieden. “Fifty thousand women alive today will develop cervical cancer that could have been prevented if we had reached our goal of an 80% vaccination rate.”
In March, an article in the journal Pediatrics called on more parents to vaccinate their children, expressing concern that the overwhelming majority of girls had not received the full course of the HPV vaccine. Another study, published late last year, found that receiving the HPV vaccine does not affect teens’ sexual behaviors, a concern for many parents.
Image: Teen getting a shot, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Dylan Meehan and Bradley Taylor, seniors at Carmel High School in New York state, are receiving widespread media attention after they won “Cutest Couple” in the school’s yearbook. Though the school did not publicize–or think there was anything unusual about–the same-sex couple receiving the award, the news went viral when it was posted to the Internet. More from CNN:
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And until the news went viral, the decision, says Carmel Principal Kevin Carroll, “hasn’t really been a big deal in the school.”
“I thought at this stage as we are now, it shouldn’t be a news event. All the reactions are coming from outside. The yearbooks were distributed Wednesday, and we didn’t get any calls until someone posted it online,” Carroll, whose school is about 65 miles north of New York City, told CNN Tuesday.
Taylor, 17, said he sees the honor as a great achievement and a turning point for their school.
“At first we weren’t able to run because for the title, they were only allowed to pick a boy and a girl,” he told CNN. “But a bunch of our friends made an uproar, and they changed it. So now you vote ‘student one’ and ‘student two.’ And I guess a lot of people voted for us and we won. So many people came up to us saying, ‘You guys are going to win.’”
A mutual friend introduced the two last year during a Brown University visit. Later on, they started dating.
“I came out to my family a week or two after I started dating Brad,” said Meehan, 18. “He was the one encouraging me to come out to them.”
“I feel like both of our families always knew but I told my parents a month before we started dating,” said Taylor.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Teenagers with asthma have better oversight of their care from parents and doctors than young adults in their early 20s, so teens’ care is more consistent, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. More from Boston.com:
Parents of teens with asthma can remind them to take medications, fill their prescriptions, and make appointments with pediatricians who probably know the child well. But a few years later, when the young adult has left home for college or to live independently, that oversight is gone — and their care can suffer.
Twenty-nine percent of young adults with asthma received treatment at an emergency room during the previous year, compared with 19 percent of younger teenagers with the condition, according to an analysis of national survey data collected between 1999 and 2009. Losing health insurance coverage is a major — but not the only — factor in this declining care, the study found.
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The research, led by Dr. Kao-Ping Chua of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, suggests that many young people wait for a medical crisis rather than seeking preventive care from primary care doctors they may not know well.
Image: Teenager using inhaler, via Shutterstock