Stories about: Center on Media and Child Health

Could monitoring Facebook impact drinking in college?

A new study published in Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine suggests that the majority of college students who post on Facebook about drunkenness and dangerous drinking habits are also at a higher risk for alcohol abuse and dependence.

The message seems fairly obvious, but the real interesting takeaway of the study is the researchers’ suggestions about how that information could be used.

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Pediatrics studies SIDS risk in African American families

Lois Lee, MD, MPH

The excitement of decorating a baby’s room is a wonderful rite of passage for every parent. It’s also a big business for manufacturers. If you look in any baby related catalog, the choices for furniture, bedding and toys seems unlimited. But even though having so many options for matching sheets, blankets, crib bumpers and stuffed animals for your baby’s crib may seem appealing, these items put infants at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)* as well as suffocation, strangulation and entrapment.

It is well known that there are significant disparities in some medical conditions between different races and ethnicities, and SIDS risks are no exception. In infants born to black mothers, the rate of SIDS is more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic infants.  In addition, black infants have much higher rates of death due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, often caused by unsafe bedding items.

To better understand the reasons why the use of soft bedding is more prominent in black families, researchers from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. recently conducted a study of infant bedding practices in black mothers. It’s hoped that by compiling this type of data, the medical community can better identify and educate at-risk families, resulting in safer infant sleep surfaces in the United States.

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Helping a family with medical issues

When your child is sick, a good friend can make all the difference in the world. But when you are that friend, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Unfortunately, sometimes even the best intentions miss their mark. I recently spoke with a few parents with chronically sick kids who said even some of their best meaning friends were anything but helpful when trying to relate to their position.

“Something I hear repeatedly that has become a thorn in my side, without the person realizing the negative connotations, is the question:  “How do you guys manage? It must be so hard to handle all that responsibility,’” says one dad. “I appreciate the sentiment, but we already know that being a parent of a sick child is hard; we don’t need to be reminded of it. We get through it with some work, but manage to love and have fun in process. The challenge doesn’t define us.”

To help people become better helpers, I’ve spoken with several parents of children with medical conditions, who together helped create this list which we hope can act as a guideline for people looking to help families with a medically fragile child.

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Teen moms on TV: The perfect opportunity to talk with your kids?

How is your teenager interpreting media messages about teenage pregnancy?

Doctors, parents and teenagers have wildly different views on TV shows that follow—many say glorify—pregnant teenagers and teenage parents. And it has many parents wondering: Can parents use these shows as opportunities to talk with their children about the consequences of sex?

According to the recent government report “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011,” teen pregnancy rates have actually dropped for a second consecutive year (20.1 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 in 2009 from 21.7 per 1,000 in 2008). It may or may not have to do with the popular MTV series “Teen Mom,” which started airing around the same time, and David Bickham, PhD, and research scientist at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health suggests that the show could serve as a platform for conversation between parents and teens. “The benefit of watching this kind of show with your child is that you can really shape the experience by being there and talking about what you’re all watching,” he says.

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