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Obesity Rates Fall for Many Young Kids in Federal Nutrition Program

THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2019 — Forty-one states and territories have seen drops in obesity rates among young children enrolled in a U.S. nutrition program, a new study shows.

“Improvements in national, state and caregiver guidance around nutrition and physical activity may be contributing to this decline in childhood obesity,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are moving in the right direction, and helping parents make healthy choices for their children is reducing the potential for complications posed by childhood obesity later in life,” he added in a CDC news release.

In the study, U.S. federal government researchers analyzed obesity trends from 2010 to 2016 among more than 12.4 million children, aged 2 to 4, in low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC helps provide supplemental foods and nutrition education.

In 2009, WIC state agencies started providing food packages more in line with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This led to increased availability of healthier foods and beverages for WIC enrollees.

Between 2010 and 2016, obesity rates fell by more than 3% in seven WIC states and territories (New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico).

However, three states had increases in obesity: Alabama (0.5%), North Carolina (0.6%), and West Virginia (2.2%).

The study appears in the Nov. 21 issue of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A previous study found that 34 of 56 WIC state/territory agencies had decreases in obesity rates between 2010 and 2014.

Currently, the WIC program also helps establish successful long-term breastfeeding, provides participants with a wider variety of foods, and offers WIC state agencies flexibility in food packages for participants with cultural food preferences.

Despite these declines in obesity among children enrolled in WIC, rates remained high in most states in 2016.

“While we have seen some progress, obesity prevalence among young children remains too high,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

“We must persist in our efforts to support healthy eating and physical activity for this positive trend to continue,” Petersen said in the release.

More information

Advice on preventing childhood obesity can be found at healthfinder.gov.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Poll: Many Young Americans Think Vaping is Safe

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Despite an outbreak of severe lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping, many young Americans consider e-cigarettes harmless, a new poll shows.

More than 20% of 18- to 38-year-olds called vaping harmless and nonaddictive; nearly 30% said flavored e-cigarettes do less damage to the lungs than unflavored ones.

The nationwide poll of more than 4,000 adults, commissioned by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), was conducted between July 9 and Aug. 10. Reports of vaping-related respiratory illnesses began in July.

More than 800 cases of severe lung illness have been reported and 12 people in 10 states have died, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are so many unanswered questions about e-cigarettes,” Dr. Richard Schilsky, ASCO’s chief medical officer, said in a society news release. “We need more research about these products so we can begin to answer these questions and protect the health and safety of the American public through education and, where necessary, regulation.”

Nationwide, about 1 in 5 adults use e-cigarettes, the pollsters found.

Vaping is far more popular with young adults than their older counterparts. More than 21% of 23- to 38-year-olds (Millennials) said they regularly use e-cigarettes, compared with 15% of 39- to 54-year-olds (Generation X) and 5% of 55- to 72-year-olds (Baby Boomers).

Among Boomers, 10% said vaping is safe; 14% said it not addictive; and 12% thought flavored e-cigarettes are less harmful than unflavored ones.

Despite the growing number of teens who use e-cigarettes, 73% of parents said they have warned their children about the dangers of vaping.

The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that e-cigarettes contain addictive and harmful or potentially harmful ingredients, including nicotine, lead and other heavy metals and flavorants, such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease.

The Trump administration recently announced plans to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. New York and Michigan are also banning flavored vaping products.

Nearly 7 in 10 adults said they support increasing the legal age to buy e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Among the 13% of adults who said they vape regularly, 80% were current or former smokers. Many said they use e-cigarettes as a way to use less tobacco (44%) or to stop smoking entirely (41%).

While quitting is a worthwhile goal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.

Most Americans (71%) want the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes; 46% favoring banning sale of flavored e-cigarettes; and 41% support a total ban.

— Steven Reinberg

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

 American Society of Clinical Oncology, news release, September 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Many Young Men Putting Health at Risk to Bulk Up

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Image is everything for most teens and young adults, and 22% of young men and 5% of young women turn to potentially dangerous methods to “bulk up,” a new study says.

These unhealthy methods — dubbed “disordered eating behaviors” — include eating to gain weight and using supplements or anabolic steroids to increase muscle or body size.

“Parents and teens should be aware that disordered eating behaviors are a common phenomenon, especially in young men,” said study lead author Dr. Jason Nagata. He practices in the division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The eating disorder field has been focused on females and thinness. But over a fifth of young adult men are working toward a more muscular, more idealized body image,” Nagata said.

And, he said, it’s not surprising, given the look of modern Hollywood celebrities. “There’s ‘The Rock’ [Johnson] and Marvel superheroes, and these are the types of people that teens are looking up to and idealizing,” Nagata said.

Social media also plays a role, he added. “Young men are posting muscular pictures on Instagram and other social media sites that portray them in an idealized way. That can lead to misperceptions,” Nagata explained.

The study included nearly 15,000 young people across the United States. They were first interviewed when they were 11 to 18 years old, and again when they were between 18 and 24.

Nearly 7% of young men told researchers they had used a supplement to gain weight or build muscle, and 3% had used steroids to build mass. Fewer than 1% of young women said they had done either.

“Steroids have significant long-term and short-term side effects,” Nagata warned. “Long term, steroids are linked to heart disease, kidney damage and liver damage. In the short term, they can cause irritability and aggressive behavior. And, when taken in teens, can cause delayed growth or stunting of growth.”

While supplements are easy to get, Nagata noted they’re not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “You can be ordering one thing online and there’s no guarantee that’s what you’re getting because there’s no regulation,” he said.

Continued

The researchers saw several factors that increased the risk for eating issues. Boys who exercised specifically to gain weight in their teens had 142% higher odds of disordered eating. If girls exercised to bulk up in their teens, their odds of disordered eating were 248% higher, the study found.

Other risk factors for engaging in troubling behaviors to change body size included:

  • A perception of being underweight
  • Lower body mass score
  • Alcohol use (in boys)
  • Depressive symptoms (in girls)
  • Being black
  • Participating in weightlifting, Rollerblading, roller-skating, skateboarding or bicycling.

So, what should parents be watching for?

“Everything in moderation. A kid who’s putting whey protein on foods and getting a 30- to 60-minute workout a day is probably fine, but there would be more concern if a kid is going to the gym four to five hours a day, and it seems like that’s all they do,” Nagata said.

Other warning signs include a highly restrictive diet that omits fats and carbohydrates; as well as compulsive weighing and checking of appearance.

Dr. Alan Geller, a psychiatrist at Gracie Square Hospital in New York City, wasn’t involved with the study but reviewed the findings. He said parents need to have ongoing communication with their children and teens about risks from things like supplements and steroids.

“Parents need to communicate what they think is OK and what’s not OK. Kids can internalize a healthy parental outlook,” Geller said.

He added that teachers and coaches can also play an important role in helping to spot unhealthy behaviors, such as steroid use.

The study was published June 20 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Jason Nagata, M.D., clinical fellow and physician, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Alan Geller, M.D., psychiatrist, Gracie Square Hospital, New York City;International Journal of Eating Disorders, June 20, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Newer Drug Extends Lives of Young Breast Cancer Patients

SATURDAY, June 1, 2019 — Adding a newer drug to standard hormone therapy lengthens the lives of younger women with advanced breast cancer, a new trial has found.

The drug, called Kisqali (ribociclib), is already approved for treating such patients — based on earlier results showing it can delay the progression of their cancer.

This is the first evidence it can also extend their lives, said senior researcher Dr. Debu Tripathy, chair of the breast medical oncology department at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

After 3.5 years, 70% of patients given hormone therapy plus Kisqali were still alive. That compared with 46% of those given hormone therapy alone.

That proof of a survival advantage hits “a pretty big milestone,” Tripathy said.

And, he added, it argues for giving the drug as a “first-line or second-line” treatment to these patients.

The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, in Chicago, and they will also be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kisqali is one of three newer drugs on the market called CDK4/6 inhibitors; the others are Verzenio (abemaciclib) and Ibrance (palbociclib). They work by blocking two proteins that help cancer cells grow and divide.

Kisqali, taken as a tablet, was originally approved as a first-line treatment for postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive — which means estrogen fuels the cancer’s growth. Most breast cancers fall into that category.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended that approval to include younger, premenopausal women. That was based on earlier findings from the current trial, which showed Kisqali typically doubled the time that patients remained progression-free — from one year to two.

The new evidence of longer survival is exciting, said Dr. Larry Norton, medical director of the Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City.

“My expectation is that, when faced with these data, it’ll be hard for doctors not to include this in the standard of care,” said Norton, who was not involved in the trial.

But, he added, the findings also raise “a lot of interesting questions.”

One is whether the other two CDK4/6 inhibitors could have the same benefits. “Is this an effect of the drug, or a drug-class effect?” Norton said.

According to Tripathy, “We don’t know the answer to that yet.” Tripathy has served as a consultant to Kisqali maker Novartis — which funded the trial.

“There are some biochemical differences between the drugs,” he noted. On the other hand, all three have been shown to roughly double the time patients remain progression-free, Tripathy said.

Norton pointed to another, related question: Once a woman on Kisqali sees her cancer progress, can she benefit from another CDK4/6 drug?

Again, the answer is unknown, Tripathy said. But in the “real world,” some doctors will likely try that strategy, he noted.

The latest findings are based on 672 women with advanced breast cancer, aged 25 to 58, who were premenopausal or going through menopause. All had cancer that was hormone receptor-positive, but negative for a protein called HER2 — a common scenario in breast cancer.

All of the women were given standard hormonal therapy — an aromatase inhibitor or tamoxifen — plus a medication that shuts down the ovaries’ production of estrogen. Half were randomly assigned to also take Kisqali. The other half took inactive placebo tablets.

Kisqali is taken in cycles of three weeks on the drug and one week off.

Norton said it’s “relatively non-toxic,” versus chemo.

The possible side effects include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and constipation, and a drop in certain white blood cells that help fight infections.

A small number of women develop what’s called a QT prolongation — a change in the heart’s electrical activity that can trigger an abnormal heart rhythm. Novartis says that as a precaution, Kisqali patients should have their heart activity checked before and during treatment.

There’s also a steep cost. CDK4/6 inhibitors run several thousand dollars per treatment cycle. Insurance usually covers treatment, Tripathy said, but some women may have trouble affording the co-payments. The drug companies do have financial assistance programs, he noted.

While the drugs are an advance, there’s more work to do, Tripathy said.

“Eventually, these patients progress,” he said. “We still need to keep developing new therapies.”

More information

For more on treating metastatic breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Opioids Still Often Prescribed to Teens, Young Adults

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Even amid an epidemic of abuse, opioid painkillers are still commonly prescribed to teenagers and young adults for conditions like tooth and back pain, a new study finds.

Researchers found that between 2005 and 2015, opioids were prescribed to teens and college-age adults at nearly 57 million visits to doctors’ offices and emergency departments in the United States.

It was particularly common in the ER: 15% of those visits ended with an opioid prescription — with only a small decline over the 10-year study period.

The reasons for the prescriptions ranged from bone fractures and sprained ankles to dental problems and low back pain, the study authors said.

It’s not clear how often those prescriptions were appropriate or inappropriate, said Dr. Todd Callahan of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“What we can say is that opioids are still commonly prescribed to adolescents and young adults,” he said. “And this study gives us some clear signals about which diagnoses are most related to those prescriptions.”

Callahan wrote an editorial published with the study in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Dr. Joel Hudgins, lead researcher on the study, agreed that it’s not clear what the prescription rates “should be.”

“But for some of these conditions, the rates are too high,” said Hudgins, who practices emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

For problems like dental pain and aching backs, it’s recommended that non-opioid pain relievers be tried first, Hudgins said.

Yet, the study found, about 60% of emergency visits for “dental disorders” ended with an opioid prescription. And among young adults, the drugs were prescribed at 38% of emergency visits for low back pain.

That’s concerning because teens and young adults are at increased risk of abusing opioids after receiving a legitimate prescription, according to Hudgins.

“This is a high-risk population,” he said, “so we should be particularly thoughtful when making the decision to prescribe an opioid.”

More than 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Illegal opioids, like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, have become the biggest concern in recent years. Still, prescription opioids — like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet — were involved in 35% of opioid overdose deaths in 2017, government figures show.

Continued

And most heroin abusers started out with prescription opioids, according to the NIDA.

For the current study, the researchers used two national databases to track patterns of opioid prescriptions to patients aged 13 to 22.

Not surprisingly, young people were much more likely to get those prescriptions in the emergency department than at an office visit. About 15% of ER trips involved an opioid prescription, compared with less than 3% of outpatient clinic visits.

When teenagers were prescribed an opioid in the emergency department, it was most often for a dental problem, a fractured collarbone or a broken ankle. For young adults, the most common reasons were dental pain, low back pain and neck sprains.

Emergency department prescriptions for the drugs did dip between 2005 and 2015 — but only by 4%, the findings showed.

Hudgins said that “hopefully” the decline has continued in more recent years. It’s also possible, he said, that there have been changes in the duration of prescriptions — which this study couldn’t examine.

Experts now say that when opioids are prescribed, it should be at the lowest dose, and for the shortest time possible.

Callahan added, “We should be cautious about prescribing opioids and about prescribing the appropriate amount.”

Both he and Hudgins said that parents and young adults should ask questions any time an opioid is being recommended. Ask whether it’s necessary, and if it is, ask about how to dispose of any extra pills safely.

“Letting a prescription sit around in the medicine cabinet increases the chances it will be misused,” Callahan said.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Joel Hudgins, M.D., assistant in medicine, division of emergency medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, and instructor, pediatrics and emergency medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; S. Todd Callahan, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of pediatrics, division of adolescent and young adult health, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tenn.; May 28, 2019,Pediatrics, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Nearly Half of Juul Twitter Followers Are Teens, Young Adults: Study

MONDAY, May 20, 2019 — Juul became the dominant brand of e-cigarettes in the United States by targeting teens with its clever use of social media, a new study suggests.

Nearly 70% of U.S. e-cigarette sales are Juul products, and most vapers are teens and young adults. The study determined that nearly half of Juul’s Twitter followers are under age 18, with the majority of followers 24 and under.

“The rise of e-cigarettes and the lack of regulation around marketing with its appeal to youth is now addicting a whole generation of youth on nicotine,” said lead researcher Annice Kim of the Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who noted that nicotine is not healthy for developing brains.

She said Juul’s initial marketing aimed to corral a group of influencers on Twitter and other platforms to push its flavored vaping system to teens and young adults. More needs to be done, Kim added, to limit exposure of age-restricted products to underage youth.

Juul said in a statement that it voluntarily shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts last year. Its Twitter account no longer contains promotional material, the statement added, only such information as study results, executive hires and the company’s support for policies to reduce youth access to tobacco products.

“We don’t want youth using our product,” the company said. “As a result, we share the researchers’ stated interest in restricting underage engagement with our limited social-media activities.”

Kim said Juul’s previous social media marketing has had an effect.

For the study, her team collected data on people who followed Juul on Twitter. Of nearly 10,000 individual Twitter followers, researchers estimated that 45% were 13- to 17-year-olds and 44% were 18- to 24-year-olds. Under 12% were 21 or older.

In its statement, Juul questioned the study’s methodology. It said the findings differ “significantly from data Twitter made available to us,” which show that 13- to 17-year-olds made up 3.9% of the company’s followers on the platform in May 2018.

But Vince Willmore, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the study is further evidence that Juul’s social media marketing helped fuel the youth e-cigarette epidemic. He said the company did too little, too late to stop it.

“Young customers continue to do the marketing for them through their social media posts,” Willmore said.

He called on social media platforms to prohibit marketing of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop regulations to prevent their marketing on social media to young people.

Meanwhile, Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said e-cigarette makers have responded to the marketing backlash by targeting adults. Unfortunately, he added, they have already gotten their youth message across.

“It’s like they set a forest fire, they don’t need to keep going around lighting trees,” Glantz said. “They’re continuing to addict kids — without fingerprints.”

Glantz called on the FDA to make Juul and other e-cigarette makers to submit the products for approval. The FDA has said it will begin enforcing the requirement in 2022, but a federal court in Maryland last week told the agency to start now. Experts expect that ruling to be appealed.

Rather than waiting for the FDA to act, some states and cities are already restricting sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids, he said.

The report was published online May 20 as a letter in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

More information

The Center on Addiction has more about e-cigarettes.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Colon Cancer Increasingly Striking the Young

By EJ Mundell

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The rise in colon cases among younger adults that’s been seen in the United States is also occurring in wealthier nations worldwide, new research shows.

In the decade leading up to 2014, the number of cases of colon cancer among people under 50 increased by 3% a year in Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and by 1% per year in Britain.

The increase was most pronounced among those aged 20 to 29, noted a team led by Dr. Marzieh Araghi, from International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

Among twenty-somethings, colon cancer cases rose by 18% a year in Denmark and 11% in Norway, according to the study published May 16 in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hematology.

“Although the incidence of colorectal cancer in adults younger than 50 years remains much lower compared with that in older age groups, our findings are of concern and highlight the need for action to counteract the rising burden of the disease in younger people,” Araghi said in a journal news release.

The increase in cases among the young runs counter to declines in colon cancer among people over 50, the researchers pointed out. For example, between 2004 and 2014 cases of colon cancer fell each year among people over 50 — by 2% in Australia and Canada, 3% in New Zealand, and 1% annually in the U.K.

Colon cancer remains a huge global killer. According to the research team, in 2018 alone nearly 2 million cases of colon cancer were diagnosed and the disease claimed 881,000 lives worldwide.

But why the surge among the young? According to Araghi, the increase is likely driven in part by increases in certain risk factors, specifically obesity and poor diet.

On the other hand, he said, the decrease in colon cancer among people over 50 is most likely due to better screening stool tests or colonoscopy that catches tumors early.

Dr. David Bernstein is chief of hematology and a gastrointestinal specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Reviewing the new report, he said similar data has already changed medical practice in the United States.

Continued

“The U.S, findings have led to updated [American Cancer Society] colon cancer screening guidelines, which now recommend the initiation of colon cancer screening at age 45, as opposed to previous guidelines recommending the initiating of screening at age 50,” Bernstein noted.

Early screening and detection could bring colon cancer numbers down again among the young, he said.

Dr. Elena Ivanina is a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She believes younger Americans need to pay more heed to avoiding colon cancer risk factors.

“This includes things like obesity, diet, smoking and other carcinogens,” she said. “Patients should discuss their colon cancer risk with their physician and not ignore any symptoms like rectal bleeding, no matter what their age.”

In the meantime, Bernstein said, “perhaps the more important question is ‘why in high income countries is the incidence of colorectal cancer increasing among young adults, and what factors are leading to this?'” Bernstein said. “Significant work needs to be done to answer this critical question.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Elena Ivanina, D.O., gastroenterologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; David Bernstein, M.D., chief, Hepatology,Northwell Health, Manhasset, N.Y.; May 16, 2019, news release,The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hematology

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Young Adults Flocking to Energy Drinks

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — More young Americans than ever are turning to caffeinated energy drinks, and the trend is cause for concern, researchers say.

In a new study, investigators found a significant increase in energy drink consumption among teens, and young and middle-aged adults over the past decade.

Compared to people who didn’t consume the beverages, those who did use energy drinks had much higher total caffeine intake and the drinks accounted for the majority of that intake, the study findings showed.

High caffeine intake can increase the risk of dangerous behaviors, mental health problems such as depression, and high blood pressure and other heart problems, the researchers said. In addition, sugar in the energy drinks can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cavities.

Not only that, mixing energy drinks with alcohol is growing in popularity among young adults and can lead to overdrinking and related threats such as impaired driving, the report noted.

“The increasing use of energy drinks, especially among young adults, is cause for concern and warrants continued study and surveillance,” said senior author Sara Bleich, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s department of health policy and management, in Boston.

“Although the beverages are marketed to reduce fatigue and improve physical and mental performance, frequent consumption of these highly caffeinated and sugary beverages has been linked to negative health consequences,” Bleich added.

In the study, the team analyzed data from more than 9,900 teens, more than 12,000 young adults and more than 11,000 middle-aged adults who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2016.

During that time, those who reported having an energy drink on a typical day rose from 0.2% to 1.4% among teens, from 0.5% to 5.5% among young adults, and from 0% to 1.2% among middle-aged adults.

Throughout the study period, energy drink users had significantly higher total caffeine intake compared with those who did not consume the beverages: 227 milligrams (mg) versus 52 mg among teens, respectively; 279 mg versus 135 mg among young adults, respectively; and 349 mg versus 219 mg among middle-aged adults, respectively.

Continued

The findings suggest that daily energy drink use among teens and middle-aged adults may be leveling off, and overall use across all three groups is relatively limited. But use by young adults continues to rise, the researchers said.

The findings were published April 29 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The highest rates of energy drink use were among middle-aged Mexican Americans and young adults with low levels of education, which “signals the need for targeted policy and programmatic efforts among these groups,” Bleich said in a journal news release.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires energy drink labels to indicate if the product contains caffeine, but the FDA does not impose a caffeine limit or require reporting of the actual level of caffeine.

“Our findings point to the need for an evidence-based upper caffeine limit, and consistent labeling on these beverages to reduce the potential negative health impact on consumers,” Bleich said.

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Sources

SOURCE:American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, April 29, 2019

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Almost Half of Young Asthma Patients Misuse Inhalers

FRIDAY, April 19, 2019 — Many children with asthma don’t use their inhalers properly and don’t get a full dose of medicine, researchers report.

They evaluated inhaler use among 113 children between the ages of 2 and 16 who were hospitalized for asthma. Such patients are at highest risk for complications and death from asthma.

At least one crucial step in inhaler technique was missed by 42% of the children. About 18% did not use a spacer device with their inhaler. A spacer is a device that’s recommended for use with an inhaler to help the right amount of asthma medication reach the lungs.

Teens were the most likely to make mistakes in inhaler technique and to skip use of a spacer, according to the study published April 17 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

“We know that asthma can be well-managed in the majority of patients and using your inhaler correctly is key factor to managing asthma,” said lead author Dr. Waheeda Samady, a hospitalist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“Improper inhaler technique can contribute to children having uncontrolled asthma and needing to come to the hospital for their asthma,” Samady said in a hospital news release.

“Our study suggests that as health care providers we can do a better job showing patients and families the correct inhaler and spacer technique, and checking it frequently to ensure they master it,” she added.

“We see that our adolescent patients, who are transitioning to independent medication management, still need close monitoring to make sure they use their inhaler and spacer appropriately to achieve optimal asthma control,” Samady said.

She pointed out that teens may feel that using a spacer is only for younger children, but “using a spacer is recommended for adults as well,” Samady explained.

Previous research shows that adding a spacer to an inhaler boosts the amount of asthma medication a person takes in from 34% to 83%.

“Children with asthma can lead full lives if they receive the right medication at the appropriate dose, which is why correct inhaler technique is so crucial,” Samady concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on asthma inhalers.

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Posted: April 2019

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Helping the Young Mind Grow

MONDAY, April 15, 2019 — Whether you call it snowplow, bulldozer or helicopter parenting, these child-rearing styles have gotten a lot of attention recently, and the acknowledgment that they may not be the best way to raise a confident, well-adjusted young person.

Moving obstacles out of a child’s way is not the same as providing the nurturing he or she needs.

Scientists know that one very important period for brain growth occurs during the preschool years. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis analyzed a series of brain scans of children from this age through the early teen years. The aim: to learn how mom’s early support affected development of the hippocampus, the area of the brain critical to learning, memory and regulating emotions, such as stress.

The investigators saw a sharper rise in the volume of the hippocampus in kids who had early nurturing, and found that these kids were healthier emotionally when they entered their teens. Hippocampus volume was smaller in teens whose mothers were less supportive during the preschool period, even if the moms were more nurturing in their elementary or middle school years.

So how can you best show support for your children? Start with a positive approach, and parent with your child’s emotional well-being in mind. Offer words of encouragement and praise as they work on and then complete tasks.

Show affection as they go through their struggles and resist getting impatient as they work at a task — nurturing also means letting children explore to find solutions on their own, whether it’s learning to do a puzzle, getting dressed or tackling a more challenging activity. Remind yourself that when you provide the answers they need, you run the risk of limiting the range of their problem-solving skills.

More information

Learn more about important parenting research from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

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Posted: April 2019

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Young Athletes Need to Be Sidelined After Bout of Mono

SUNDAY, April 14, 2019 — Young sports buffs recovering from mononucleosis may be itching to return to the game they love. But one expert says the risk of suffering a burst spleen during play means staying on the sideline longer than some would like.

Along with extreme fatigue, sore throat, fever and swollen glands, “mono” causes spleen enlargement. That can be dangerous for athletes because the impacts and pressure on the abdomen that occur during many sports can cause the spleen to burst.

“It’s rare — occurring in less than 0.5% of patients — but an infected athlete can rupture their spleen without warning within 21 days after symptoms begin,” said Dr. Lindsay Lafferty, a primary care sports medicine physician at Penn State Health.

“The rate declines after four weeks, but ruptures have occurred up to eight weeks after an athlete first notices symptoms,” she noted in a Penn State news release.

Determining the risk of a spleen rupture is challenging. Because the normal size of a spleen fluctuates, ultrasounds and CT scans won’t help determine if the organ is enlarged or at risk of rupture, Lafferty said.

“Physical examination of spleen size identifies as few as 17% of cases, so deciding when the time is right for a student athlete to return to play can be complex,” she explained.

For athletes, protective equipment such as flank jackets or protective braces haven’t been shown to reduce the risk of spleen rupture and aren’t recommended.

“Athletes may resume non-contact play and exercises that don’t include lifting weights 21 days after the onset of mono if their symptoms have vanished, and they can to return to full play after 28 days,” Lafferty advised.

The virus that causes mononucleosis is transmitted through saliva, so it is commonly called the “kissing disease.” But mono can also be spread by sharing a glass or utensils with an infected person, or even through coughing or sneezing. It often occurs in younger people — especially those in high school and college.

Treatment for mono includes rest, hydration and pain relief. In some cases, recovery may take months. Isolation isn’t necessary, but patients are urged to avoid spreading germs by making sure they wash their hands and don’t share personal items or water bottles.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on infectious mononucleosis.

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Posted: April 2019

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Do Social Media Hurt Mental Health of US Young?

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Young Americans may be more vulnerable to depression, distress and suicidal thoughts or attempts than their parents’ generation, and social media might be fueling that troubling trend.

So claims a review of a decade’s worth of data on roughly 200,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, and 400,000 young adults over 18.

Investigators found that beginning in the mid-2000s, those under the age of 26 started reporting a huge rise in symptoms related to all three mental health problems. The spikes ranged from about 55 to 70 percent. No such jump was seen among adults over the age of 26.

“Other studies had also documented an increase in mental health issues among adolescents, but it was unclear whether this was a shift among people of all ages or a generational shift,” explained study author Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

The latest findings suggest a generational shift is indeed underway. These young adults “are experiencing mental health issues at a much higher rate than millennials were and are, even after accounting for year and age,” Twenge said. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996.

Why? “These increases in behaviors,” Twenge said, “cannot be explained by [more] awareness or acknowledgement.”

Instead, Twenge thinks the likely culprit is the explosive rise of social media over the past 10 years. The result, she said, is that “the way teens and young adults spend their leisure time has fundamentally changed.”

They “spend less time with their friends in person, and less time sleeping, and more time on digital media,” Twenge noted. “The decline in sleep time may be especially important, as not getting enough sleep is a major risk factor for depression and suicidal thoughts.”

What’s more, digital media is “something that happens to them every day, for hours at a time,” she said. “So, it makes sense it would have the largest impact on their mental health.”

And that impact hasn’t been good.

Continued

The analysis found that while major depressive symptoms had affected about 8 percent of survey respondents under 26 back in 2011, that figure had risen to 13 percent by 2017, representing an increase of roughly 60 percent. Young girls appeared to be particularly vulnerable, with indications that major clinical depression was affecting about 1 in 5 teen girls in 2017.

Similarly, indicators of serious psychological distress (such as anxiety and feelings of hopelessness) skyrocketed by more than 70 percent among those aged 18 to 25. During the same time frame, a whopping 55 percent rise was seen in suicidal thoughts among those between the ages of 22 and 23, while actual suicide attempts doubled.

The findings were published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Shari Jager-Hyman is a research associate with the Center for the Prevention of Suicide at the University of Pennsylvania, and was not involved with the study. She said the findings “could have important implications,” and agreed that changing attitudes towards mental health alone would not explain the whole story.

But certain aspects of the global rise of a new digital “town square” might, Jager-Hyman suggested. For example, these teens and young adults are the first to have to deal with the advent of “cyberbullying and social comparison facilitated by social media, both of which are associated with negative psychological outcomes,” she said.

“It is most likely that these findings are not attributable to any single factor,” Jager-Hyman said. “But it is certainly possible that increased exposure to social/digital media and decreased time engaging in face-to-face interactions may contribute to greater increases in psychological distress in younger people.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Jean Twenge, Ph.D., professor, psychology, San Diego State University; Shari Jager-Hyman, Ph.D., research associate, Center for the Prevention of Suicide, department of psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; March 14, 2019, Journal of Abnormal Psychology

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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