I have been saddened by the recent suicide of a young man in our community. It is still hard for me to fathom that parents I know have suffered through the loss of their child from suicide. There are really no words for the shock and grief that is felt on so many levels.
Unfortunately, teen suicide is not as uncommon as you might think. Each year, there are thousands of teens that commit suicide. Suicides are the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. In 2000, the CDC reported 1 out of 12 teens attempts suicide and up to 1 in 5 teens state that they have contemplated suicide at some point during their adolescent years. The statistics also show that the incidence of teen suicide has been increasing over the last years, which seems to correlate with the mounting pressures, both real and perceived, that our youth feel. As an adult I think "what could be that terrible to drive a teen to end their life when so much lies ahead of them?. But a teen's brain is not fully developed, and as any parent with a teen knows, teenagers are often impulsive with little thought of the true consequences of their actions.
Teen suicides are usually related to depression, anxiety, confusion and the feeling that life is not worth living. An event such as a break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, substance abuse, or failure at school may lead to suicide.
There are also gender differences among teens who commit suicide. Teen girls are more likely to attempt suicide than teen boys. With that being said, teen boys are more likely to complete a suicide. Girls are more likely to use an overdose of drugs to attempt suicide while boys are more likely to shoot themselves. While a girl may use an overdose or cutting as call for help, there is often little opportunity for intervention with a male who sustains a self inflicted gun shot or may even hang themselves. Male suicide attempts are typically more violent
Millions of people watch YouTube and other social media videos. There's everything from music to medical procedures, comedy clips and cooking shows you name it and there's a video for it.
There are also videos showing teens and pre-teens choking each other and beating each other to a bloody pulp. These are videos that encourage dangerous and sometimes deadly games. It appears the more outrageous you can be, the bigger audience you'll have. Unfortunately a lot of kids end up in emergency rooms or worse, dead.
Last week a 15-year-old boy died while copying a YouTube video he and his friends had seen. While standing, he passed out, and fell forward crashing into an empty drinking glass. His collarbone broke the glass and a shard sliced through his interior and exterior jugular vein. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. It's called the choking game.
The asphyxiation-to- get-high videos are popular with young adults, teens and even preteens.
Other popular games include jumping off a moving vehicle, salt and ice, extreme fighting, the cinnamon challenge and hitting someone over the head with a folding chair.
Dr. Thomas Abramo, the chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he sees all of it in his ER. Although teens have acted on risky behavior fads throughout his 30-year career, he said he's seeing trends catch on faster than ever before, and he thinks it's because of YouTube and social media.
"If you get one kid doing it, you tend to see more kids doing it," said Abramo, who said two of his patients have died playing the choking game. "The spread of the event is definitely faster."
One challenge that scares Abramo involves being hit on the head with a bench or a folding chair to "see if you can take it," he said. A lot of the time, they can't.
"Fractures, concussions, lacerations," Abramo said. "Just the things you would think would happen."
During my tween/teen checkups, I try to spend some time talking about how much time an adolescent spends on their phone, how much time on their computer and how much time they are watching TV. Kind of a compilation of how they handle on line/on screen per day.
While everyone is different I do like to see if parents have discussed rules with their teens surrounding the use of ALL electronics. I find that most adolescents and their parents do have rules about the use of their phones and computers and most parents try to limit their child's constant need to be on screen.
I was recently talking with a teen boy, who is one of 5 children. He has great parents and they are very attentive to all of the distractions related to cell phones and computer use and try to keep all of the screen use in moderation.
During his routine exam, I asked him about his cell phone usage, and if he had rules for using the phone, he answered that he didn't have a phone.....anymore. Upon further polite probing he told me that he had had his phone taken away due to the fact that he had been texting too much.
Now, in my practice, many of my patients seem to be texting all of the time. Many parents had already told me that their child had unlimited texts and several had told me that their children had bills with as many as 9,000 texts/month. But, when I asked him how many texts he had recorded in a month he sheepishly told me 16,000!!! WHAT??
So, I came home to my computer to try and figure out how many texts that was per week, day, hour? (he had told me that his dad had a spread sheet that he could get me if I wanted). I went straight to my own calculator. If he had 16,000 texts/month, that is 571 texts per day (assuming 28 day month). If you figure that a teen is in school for 8 hours/day (where I guess they are not supposed to be texting) and they SHOULD sleep at least 8 hours, th
When talking to my adolescent patients, I have started to hear that more of them are engaging in oral sex, and a study by the CDC just confirmed this. The recently released data confirm that about 2/3 of teens and young adults have had oral sex, which is about the same as those who have had vaginal intercourse. The data was based on online interviews with over 6,000 participants between the ages of 15-24, during the years 2007-2010.
The study also found that girls and boys both participated in oral sex and that sexual activity began at about the same age for both genders, with 44% of 15-17 year old males and 39% of girls engaging in some kind of sexual activity with an opposite sex partner. The gender gap in terms of sexuality has also narrowed.
While some teens in my own practice feel like oral sex is safer this is a misconception that needs to be refuted. While adolescents who perform or receive oral sex may be at no risk for pregnancy, and low risk for contracting HIV, the risk for other sexually transmitted infections including herpes, gonorrhea and HPV are still real. Most of my teens do not report condom use during oral sex.
This study confirms the need for more education for teens. While most parents have the talk with their children, how many parents are addressing oral sex? Many parents I see are still uncomfortable with discussing sexuality with their children and the thought that they may need to discuss oral sex makes them turn pale and cringe. They feel ill equipped for this discussion surrounding intimacy and are often looking for resources to help them. Many schools sex education courses do not even discuss oral sex and if so it is done in a cursory way.
If the CDC data is correct, then it is certainly the time to continue with good sex education and to discuss not only premarital vaginal intercourse, but oral sex as well. While it is true that the
It's finally here. From the time your child was an infant, you knew this day was coming. He or she is entering college! If your young adult is moving away, there's shopping, packing, traveling arrangements, paperwork, dorms and good-byes filling up the precious last living-at-home days.
New opportunities for educational, personal and professional growth are just on the other side of those academic doors. But, there's one more thing that you need to make sure is taken care- even if your child is remaining home and going to a community or local college.
Vaccinations need to be updated. Many colleges will not allow a student to attend classes, or live in a dorm, if their vaccinations are not updated, and immunization records filed with the school.
Colleges want to know that their students have been vaccinated against the basics - Diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. But increasingly, they want to know that their students have been inoculated against bacterial meningitis.
Dorm rooms, fraternities and sororities are breeding grounds for contagious diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles can also lower a person's immune system. Lack of sleep, unsanitary conditions, bad nutrition, drinking and exposure to cigarette smoke and drugs can put a child at risk for a host of medical problems.
Bringing these topics up is not to say that all college bound students will partake in unhealthy lifestyles, it's simply a reminder that large populations in close quarters can put you at a higher risk for disease. That's why colleges are becoming more adamant about student vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends college students, especially those living in dormitories, receive these vaccinations:
It suddenly seems that I have been in a time warp and so many of my patients who should still be little are showing up for their pre-college physicals. It was hard enough for me to realize that my own children had grown-up, but I am now realizing that my own patients are growing up as well. With many of them now being 18 years old, they are now also in charge of their own health care decisions. This became apparent the other day as I was seeing a long time patient for her 18 year old check up, and I was filling out her college health form as well.
When I got to her immunizations I realized that she had not had the HPV vaccine series, and I then remembered that her parents had decided not to give her this vaccine. (I had discussed the importance of the HPV vaccine with her mother and father every year for the last 4-5 years). As I started to say, Oh I forgot you did not get the HPV vaccine, she chimed in with now that I am 18 years old I want to get that vaccine.
I paused for a few seconds and then she said, I always thought I should get that vaccine and I listened to you every year, but my Dad just didn't think I was old enough to get it. Now that I can make that decision, I think it is a good vaccine and something that I want to have. Can I get it today, and can I come back at the end of the summer and get the second one before heading off to school?
Now I am thrilled that she had been listening to our discussions about HPV and the need to vaccinate, but it also felt a bit weird that she suddenly could make her own decisions about vaccines. In reality, she could make all sorts of decisions now, even though her parents were actually still the holders of her health insurance benefits and would be until at least she was out of college.
I thought about asking her to call her parents one last time to see what they thought she s
If you're planning the perfect getaway this summer with your family, don't let motion sickness spoil your plans. Did you know 58% of children between the ages of four and 10 experience the symptoms of motion sickness?
When it comes to driving and teens there's good news and not so good news.
Let's look at the good news first.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that between 1991 and 2011 the percentage of high school students who said they never or rarely wore a seatbelt declined from 26 percent to 8 percent. That's a very good drop in the percentage of students who don't use their seatbelts when driving.
More good news.
The percentage of teens who said they have ridden with a driver that had been drinking alcohol declined from 40 percent to 24 percent. Good, but could use improvement. No one should be riding with a driver who has been drinking!
On that same note; the percentage of teens that said they had driven under the influence of alcohol in the last month declined from 17 percent to 8 percent between 1997 and 2011. Lets hope this years numbers will be even lower.
We are encouraged that more of today's high school students are choosing healthier, safer behaviors, such as wearing seat belts, and are avoiding behaviors that we know can cause them harm, such as binge drinking or riding with impaired drivers," said Howell Wechsler, director of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.
Now, for the not so good news.
A high percent of teens are using their cell phone while they are driving. That includes talking, texting and emailing. Last year was the first time that a question about cell phone use was included in the CDC survey. One in three students said they had sent a text or an email while driving.
Texting and cell phone use behind the wheel is "a national epidemic," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
"We need to teach kids, who are the most vulnerable drivers, that texting and driving don't mix," LaHood said at a Washington news conference to announce pilot projects in Delaware and California to discourage distracted driving.
In the surv
Adolescence is the prime time for acne. If you have a pre teen or a teenager in your house you are well aware of the need for good skin care.
Do you have a good family routine which includes engaging your kids in a conversation? You should! It's a great way to stick to connecting with your kids whenever you get a chance, especially in a restaurant. I was out to dinner recently and enthralled by the table next to us as there was a mother and her 3 children who were enjoying dinner. I happened to look over there at one point only to notice that the mother was reading a People magazine while all 3 of the children were on some sort of handheld electronic device. They were all engrossed in their own electronic world and they were not talking to one another at all! I just sat there watching them as I kept thinking that this was just the beginning of their meal? Unfortunately, they continued their entire meal, rarely speaking to one another. Occasionally, a child would say, Mom, Mom and the mother would put down her magazine for a moment and respond with a one or two word reply, only to go right back to her magazine. The entire meal was a testimony to the fact that we parents need to be engaged with our children. I could not stop watching (my husband was not happy with me). Parents: put down your electronic devices, or documents or papers and pay attention to our children. Our children also need to put down all of their devices (I am not savvy enough to name all of them, iPhone, iPad, DS, iTouch) and we need to TALK. Even if the conversation does not have a lot of substance, it really makes no difference. It is the fact that we are talking to one another and making eye contact and listening. I (myself) am sometimes guilty (I know my own children are reading this) and we need to have family moratorium that there will not be anything except conversation at dinner. No electronics just good old family time. The time we have to spend together with our families, especially during the school age years, is all too fleeting. Make a resolution to enjoy family meal time, whether at home or at a resta
Allergy season is literally in full bloom with flowers, trees and grasses all contributing to the sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses and coughs which are seen in allergic children. If your child continues to suffer from allergies despite medical therapy with daily antihistamines and nasal steroids, your pediatrician may recommend a visit to a pediatric allergist.
If you're the parent of a teen, this does not surprise you at all: teens do not get enough sleep!
Anybody who is over the age of 3 knows that smoking is bad for you. Its not only a smelly and offensive habit (ever have to inhale what others exhale in your face?), but is the cause of many serious health problems. You would think that over a couple of decades everyone would get the message, but according to a new report issued by the U.S. Surgeon Generals office, too many teens still seem to think that smoking is no big deal.
The U.S. Surgeon General has released the first report on youth smoking since 1994 and it shows that although smoking is down from previous decades, almost one in five high school students smoke. Because few high school smokers are able to quit, some 80 percent will continue to smoke as adults, according to the report released on Thursday.
Whether they cant quit, or just dont want to quit, is probably debatable. Adults have the same problem. Its hard- but doable.
Nicotine is very addictive, and thats one of the reports main concerns.
"Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life," Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said in the report, which details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use.
An estimated 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette every day and 9 in 10 current smokers started before the age of 18. Some 99 percent of all first-time tobacco use happens by the age of 26, exposing young people to the long-term health effects of smoking, such as lung cancer and heart disease.
The report also noted that smoking kills more than 1,200 people every day and every tobacco related death is replaced by two new smokers under the age of 25.
Education, intervention and early treatment are recommended as ways to help prevent or decrease the adolescent smoking habit. "This report highlights the urgent need
I am a huge proponent of family meals and Chef Dad Tom Fleming is always supplying The Kid's Doctor with new family friendly recipes. I think many families are now trying to make the time to eat together at least several nights a week. Kudos to those families!
I love Glee but I just watched the latest episode and I was really surprised, appalled, and disturbed by the scene where a bullied, depressed teen was shown trying to hang himself. What in the world? I even had to rewind it to make sure I was correct in what I had seen? I found myself sitting through the commercial break trying to decide if I could even watch the rest of the program.
I did stay tuned and I must admit that I am glad that I did. I am just concerned about some of the teen viewers who may not have watched what happened next.
Thankfully, Karofsky, did not successfully commit suicide, but he did end up in the hospital. Why did he feel so desperate? What could lead a teenager to feel so sad, defeated and ALONE, that they would attempt to kill themselves? In this case, the character was outed about his sexuality (I think on Facebook). He was then taunted by the entire football team and chased from the locker room, which led to his attempted suicide.
This story line touched too close to some real situations I have had with my own patients. I have been the pediatrician for patients who have killed themselves. Their parents and friends will never understand what could have driven them to such a decision, nor will I.
I do know that suicide cannot be hidden and that there needs to be open discussions between adults and teens about suicide While the Glee episode did that, I think it was unnecessary to show this young man preparing to hang himself.
The teachers and students on Glee all openly discussed the attempted suicide. Mr. Shue even gathered the Glee club to talk about his own teen years and how he had at one time thought about killing himself.
He then had the students in glee club talk about something 10 years in the future that they were looking forward to. This helped each of them to realize while their probl
I have previously discussed the importance of sunscreen but it is equally important to discuss the risk of artificial tanning and the use of tanning beds.
With winter in full swing, many families are traveling. Some families are heading to the mountains or maybe camping and hiking in a National Park. Others may be going to far away places for an adventure in South America or even Asia and encounter higher altitudes.
Child identity theft is on the rise. One reason child identity theft is on the rise is because of new software that can predict social security numbers (SSN) before a child is even born.
ECGs could save your child's life. Electrocardiograms (ECGs) record the electrical activity in the heart and can identify people who are risk for sudden cardiac arrest.