Stories about: Teen health

Emergency Department visits related to Molly narcotic skyrocket

Molly can be in pill or powder form, and can be diluted in a drink

Emergency Department (ED) visits related to the drug MDMA have exploded recently, fueled by the popularity of Molly—a powdered form of the drug often celebrated in popular culture. A recent report from U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that among young people, ED trips for MDMA have increased 128 percent between 2005 and 2011.

Molly, which doubles as both a stimulant and hallucinogen, gives the user a euphoric high but can also dangerously increase the heartbeat, spike blood pressure, constrict blood vessels and disrupt the body’s ability to regulate and recognize temperature.

But despite all its dangers, Molly maintains a soft public image.

Read Full Story

Eating disorders affect boys, gay and lesbian youth

“When asked to conjure an image of a patient living with an eating disorder, I imagine many people picture a young, thin woman. This reflects two common stereotypes: that eating disorders only affect women, and that all people with eating disorders are low-weighted. In fact, clinical experience and an evolving field of research show that many males struggle with eating disorders,” says Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, fellow in Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Similarly, parents and health care providers may see gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in terms of their sexual identities and forget that these teens may face body image and weight control issues as well.

Two recent studies published by researchers at Boston Children’s debunk these stereotypes and may change the way parents and providers think about eating disorders and risky weight control behaviors in all teens.

Read Full Story

Can sports make kids smarter?

Was Thomas Jefferson on to something when he quipped, “A strong body makes the mind strong?” It appears so, according to a study of nearly 5,000 British teens. Researchers tracked physical activity and standardized test performance at ages 11, 13 and 16. Overall, kids who were more active achieved higher test scores in English, math and science.

Interestingly, as parents, educators and policymakers lament the lack of women in science, the results indicated a strong link between physical activity and science scores for girls.

The researchers, whose study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, aren’t sure why kids who spent more time sweating outperformed their couch potato peers on academic measures, but suggested that physical activity might increase time on task and curb problem behavior in the classroom.

Kathryn Ackerman, MD, MPH, co-director of the Female Athlete Program at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Sports Medicine Division, adds another possibility: The structure of sports carries over into other aspects of kids’ lives. Athletic discipline makes for academic discipline.

Read Full Story

When docs talk about alcohol use, teens listen

Arms crossed, eyes rolled, heavy sighs. Teens’ body language often suggests utter disregard for adults’ advice. The phenomenon may peak during discussions about substance use, which is one reason some pediatricians may bypass substance abuse counseling during annual visits. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends physicians screen all adolescents for alcohol at least once a year. New research from the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Boston Children’s Hospital may allay physicians’ fears.

A brief computer-facilitated counseling session during an annual physician visit reduced drinking among teens whose friends drink or approve of drinking. In a study of 2,092 12- to 18-year-old patients, teens with friends who drink (those with peer risk) had reduced alcohol use at three-month follow-up, Jennifer Louis-Jacques, MD, MPH, from Boston Children’s Division of Adolescent Medicine, reported in a study published online Nov. 11 in Journal of Adolescent Health.

Read Full Story