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Teen Health Blog


Prom Season Begins

Thursday April 29, 2010

The flowers are in bloom, the weather is getting warm which means one thing. It's time for Prom.

As you prepare your teen for prom you should also take the time out to talk about drinking and sex. While not too many people are still holding out till prom night to make love for the first time or have their first shot of whiskey, it is still important to discuss with your teen the health risks sex and drinking has on their young bodies.

For tips on talking to your teen about sex on prom night or any other night, check out these helpful links. For advice on talking to your teen about drinking visit the Alcoholism site for tips on how to address the issue.

Study finds abstinence-only education works

Wednesday February 3, 2010

A study published in the Archive of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine that evaluated the efficiency of abstinence-only education in young adolescents found the advice to abstain from sex is a viable preventative method.

The study showed that only one-third of the sixth and seventh-graders that were offered an eight-hour abstinence-focused program started having sex within two years. Nearly one-half of students in other classes, including a combination of contraception and abstinences, reported becoming sexually active.

The findings prove abstinence-only education can work.

"I think we've written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence," said John B. Jemmot III, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania who led the study, told the Washington Post. "Our study shows this could be one approach that could be used."

The study, which was paid for by the National Institute of Mental Health, comes amid an intense debate on how to reduce teenage sexual activity and pregnancy. The Obama administration eliminated more than $170 million in annual federal funding for abstinence programs after a series of reports found that the approach was ineffective.

A recently released study by the Guttmacher Institute sited abstinence-only education as the reason for a radical increase in teenage pregnancy rates.

New study finds teenage pregnancy rising

Wednesday January 27, 2010

Teenage pregnancy is on the rise according to a recently released study by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that conducts research on sexual and reproductive health. According to the report the rate of teenage pregnancies rose 3 percent in 2006 after a ten year decline.

Pregnancy rates in American teens saw a sharp decrease in the 1990s largely due to access to contraceptives. The rate plateaued in the early 2000s but suddenly saw a reverse in 2006. Many place the blame for the teenage pregnancy boom on the abstinence-only education that was promoted by President Bush.

But not everyone is following that train of thought. According to the National Review Online, a conservative news Web site, "In the decade after the federal government began its meager funding of abstinence education, teen pregnancy fell steadily."

Instead of placing blame on sex education, Robert Rector of National Review found the study faulty.

"For most people, 'teen pregnancy' implies pregnancy among high-schoolers, girls under age 18. According to Guttmacher's own data, the pregnancy rate for 15- to 17-year-old girls barely changed, and the rate for girls 14 and under (the group most affected by abstinence programs) actually dropped."

Best Bones Forever - A New Website for Teens and Parents

Sunday October 25, 2009

With Halloween around the corner, this is a great time to talk about bones! Your teen's bones, that is. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently launched Best Bones Forever, a website dedicated to educating teen girls and parents about bone growth.

Why is this important? Because women build their bones up until the end of their teen years - and then the rest of their lives, just maintain what they have. If a teen does not have enough calcium or does not get enough exercise, she isn't building the bone she could have. This can lead to osteoporosis when she is older, a significant health problem for many in the US and around the world. Best Bones Forever has a parent's section with tips to help your teen girl build strong bones. Don't let bone health spook you! Find out what you can do to help your teen develop good habits and a strong skeleton (I couldn't resist...).

Teen Read Week 2009!

Sunday October 18, 2009

This year the American Library Association is sponsoring a Teen Read Week to highlight the importance of reading in teens' lives. This year the event is being held from October 18 until October 24. Contact your local library to see if they are celebrating Teen Read Week.

You might be wondering what reading has to do with your teen's health. It might seem a little far fetched, but good readers turn out to be happier (and therefore healthier) people. Good readers tend to do better in school, leading to better education and job opportunities. In general, those with more education and better jobs take better care of themselves. More specifically, one agency in Canada has been shown that teens with poor reading skills have higher rates of ADHD, depression, and anxiety. A teen who is a poor reader knows it and fears the shame brought upon them by their peers and teachers. If you think your teen is a poor reader, talk to someone at your child's school about your concerns - your teen's future health and well being might be at stake.

Should Your Son Get the HPV Vaccine?

Friday October 16, 2009

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the use of the Gardasil vaccine for use in teen males. You might be wondering why, as Gardasil was marketed as the first vaccine to prevent cancer - cervical cancer specifically. Since a boy doesn't have a cervix, why would he need this shot?

The answer is three-fold. First, the Gardasil vaccine doesn't only prevent cervical cancer, it also prevents genital warts. Both cervical cancer and genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Gardasil is essentially an HPV vaccine. Boys can get genital warts, and the HPV vaccine will help to protect them from this STD. Second, the HPV vaccine protects boys from penile or anal cancer. Although these are more rare conditions, it is a nice benefit of the shot. Lastly, there is some thought that boys become the carrier for the various strains of HPV, including those that cause cervical cancer. If he isn't carrying that strain of virus that causes cervical cancer, it might help to protect his female partner. I know we don't want to think of our teen sons having sex, but at some point in his lifetime, he probably will. If he gets the shot in his teens, it might protect his wife or partner in the future.

Ask your pediatrician today about the HPV vaccine for your son.

Teen ACL Repair? Prepare For More Surgery

Sunday October 11, 2009

Has your teen had surgery to repair a torn or injured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)? New information from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that teens who have had an ACL fixed will need further intervention at higher rates than other groups. Doesn't make sense if you think about how young and healthy teens tend to be - or does it?

In fact, it's because teens are so healthy and active that the ACL needs more work. Teens tend to ignore advice that is meant to protect any original surgery on the ligament and "overdo it." The long and short of it is that if your teen has had this kind of reconstructive surgery, it's important for him or her to adhere to what they are told about their limitations. It will help to protect their health and perhaps prevent additional surgeries.

Greedy Tanning Salons Are Hurting Your Teen

Sunday October 4, 2009

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times took a look at how tanning salons treat their teen customers. The article covers recent research about how these salons adhere to FDA guidelines and state laws regarding teen tanning. Not surprisingly, those states that have stricter rules had more salons that required written parental consent. Many fewer required a parent to accompany a teen to an appointment - although this is presumably a better indicator of parental consent. It's easy to imagine how a parental consent might not be signed by an actual parent!

More concerning is that most salons allow for - and even promote - more tanning than is recommended. Only 11% of tanning salons followed the FDA regulations for limiting first-time tanners to only three days the first week. Additionally, many salons offer "all-you-can-tan" packages, encouraging overuse of the tanning beds.

It's clear that teen tanning has it's dangers. The World Health Organization promotes a ban on teen tanning, and that might just be the best thing we can do to protect our teens from this common danger.

Good News, Bad News on Teens and Their Shots

Sunday September 27, 2009

The September 18 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report had good news and bad news about teen immunizations. The good news is that immunization rates are up for teens - an increase of 10% from 2007 to 2008. The bad news is that only 40% of teens are up-to-date with their shots, specifically the Tdap and meningitis vaccines.

I know that it is hard to carve out time for a teen checkup, but checkups are an important time for your provider to screen your teen for potential health concerns. It's also a great time for the provider to talk to your teen about his or her overall health - both physically and emotionally - and how to promote health in all parts of life. And, of course, checkup time is shot time!

If your teen has had a recent checkup - great job! If it's been a while, call your provider's office and see if your teen needs to be seen or if any immunizations are needed. Your teen will thank you. (Well, maybe not, but you're doing the right thing anyway!)

By Popular Demand! Teen Texting Dangers

Sunday September 20, 2009

A blog post a little while back generated some interest, so it made sense to provide more information on this important topic.

Texting is a relatively new phenomenon, so there are few words of wisdom that grandparents can pass down to parents of teens. I love texting because I can provide short bites of information in an efficient way. On the other hand, texting can have some drawbacks, particularly for teens. Read my newest article on teen texting dangers. Let me know what you think in the Teen Health Forum - is texting a problem for your teen?

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