Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna en Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna TYPO3 - get.content.right Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:04:00 -0400 Ideas to Help Children Swallow Pills It can be hard to teach kids to swallow pills, but a few techniques can be helpful, a study shows.... It can be hard to teach kids to swallow pills, but a few techniques can be helpful, a study shows. The study looked at previous research on pill swallowing among children. Few studies had been done. Researchers found 5 small studies with successful results. Two studies worked on teaching or showing kids how to swallow pills. In one, 17 of 29 children were able to take large capsules for at least 6 months. The other study reported success for all but 1 of 23 children. Another study included 67 children who could not swallow pills at first. Of these, 47 learned with the use of specific instructions. Nine others succeeded with the instructions plus a small pill cup. A study of 11 children helped 7 of them to swallow small candies with the aid of a throat spray. Another study taught 33 children the best ways to hold their heads to take pills. After 2 weeks of practice, all were able to swallow pills. The journal Pediatrics published the research review. HealthDay News wrote about it April 20. What Is the Doctor's Reaction?  "That's a hard pill to swallow." There's good reason for that old saying. Swallowing pills can be hard. This is especially true for children. Children may have trouble swallowing pills because they:
    • Get nervous 
    • Are scared 
    • Do not like the way the pill tastes
    • May not know how important it is to take the pill  
The journal Pediatrics just published a review article about different ways that can help children swallow pills. The authors looked at all of the research that has been done on this topic since 1987. They found only 5 studies that included more than 10 children each who had trouble swallowing pills.  The studies looked at different ways that have been tried. They include: 
    • Changing behavior by teaching, showing or reminding children the right way 
    • Using flavored spray that makes the back of the mouth and tongue more slippery 
    • Telling the child simple ideas for swallowing pills 
    • Using a special cup that makes it easier to swallow pills 
    • Teaching children five different ways to hold their heads 
In all of the studies, these different ways worked well for most of the children. Some even helped children as young as 2 years old. These younger patients may learn to swallow pills more easily because they do not have bad memories of taking pills in the past.  These studies show that most children can beat their pill-swallowing problems. This is very important. Children who need medicine must be able to follow the doctor's advice.  The authors point out that they found only a handful of studies published during the last 26 years. Plus, these were not the best study designs. The studies also had only small numbers of children. What Changes Can I Make Now?  It is perfectly normal if your child has trouble swallowing pills. The good news is that there are ways you can try to make it easier. 
    1. Place the pill far back on your child's tongue.
    2. Have your child quickly drink water or a favorite drink. Swallow large amounts. This helps focus on the liquid. Drinking quickly through a straw can also help.
    3. Keep the head up straight or bent slightly forward. It can be hard to swallow if the head is bent backward. 
Your child may not like the taste or smell of the pill. Try putting it in something sweet, such as ice cream, applesauce or another soft food.  Sometimes it is OK to split the pill in half. You also might crush it into powder. It depends on the type of medicine. Make sure to check with the doctor first. 
    • To turn a pill into powder, crush it in between two spoons. It might be easier to crush the pill if you wet it with a few drops of water and let it soften for five minutes. Once crushed, mix the powder with syrup, yogurt, applesauce or any sweet food that does not need to be chewed. 
    • Capsules that work slowly over time should not be crushed. Instead, ask your doctor if the medicine inside of them can be opened and put into a sweet food. Make sure the food does not need to be chewed. 
Swallowing pills can get easier with practice. Do this at a time when your child is not sick or cranky. It helps to teach children to swallow pills before they really need them to treat a health problem. One way to practice is with swallowing candies. Start with a tiny one and slowly move on to bigger ones. Try to use candies that will melt quickly if they get stuck. You can also try coating them with butter first.  If none of these tips work, talk with your child's doctor. The doctor might be able to prescribe the medicine in liquid or chewable form. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future?  Swallowing a pill is a common problem for children. Expect the doctor to tell you and your child different ways to try doing it. The doctor will share why your child needs to take the medicine.  More research is needed on how to know which children will have a hard time swallowing pills. Children who have a hard time swallowing whenever they eat anything have not yet been studied. I hope that future studies also will be done using larger groups of children.]]>
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Study Links Alcohol in Films, Teen Drinking Teens who have seen a lot of alcohol drinking in movies may be more likely to drink themselves, a... Teens who have seen a lot of alcohol drinking in movies may be more likely to drink themselves, a new study concludes. Researchers used information from a long-term study of British children. When they were 15, about 5,000 of them were asked about how often and how much alcohol they drank. They also were asked about which of 50 popular movies they had seen. Teens were put into groups based on how much alcohol drinking they had seen in these movies. Overall, drinking was common. About 86% of the teens said they had tried alcohol. Nearly half had participated in binge drinking. About 40% said they had had some sort of problem with school, work, friends or police that was related to alcohol. Researchers adjusted their numbers to account for factors other than movie exposure that might make teens more likely to drink. Compared with teens who saw the least drinking in movies, teens who saw the most were about twice as likely to drink at least weekly or have problems linked to alcohol use. They were about 75% more likely to binge-drink. The journal Pediatrics published the study. HealthDay News wrote about it April 13.  What Is the Doctor's Reaction? When youth see people drinking alcohol in movies, it has an effect on them. And that effect may not be one that parents want.  That's the bottom line of a study just released in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers from the United Kingdom looked at data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This study has kept track of more than 14,000 children since their births in 1991 or 1992.  For this study, researchers looked at answers the youth gave to questions when they were 15 years old. They were asked if they had seen any of 50 popular films. The films included varying amounts of alcohol use. They were also asked about:
  • When they started using alcohol (if they had)
  • Their current alcohol use
  • Whether they did any binge drinking
  • Whether they had problems coming from alcohol use (such as getting into arguments, trouble with police, interfering with work or school etc.)
This study had one particularly useful feature. Researchers controlled very carefully for "confounders." These are other factors that might make youth more or less likely to use alcohol. Some of them include income of the family, behavior problems, whether parents use alcohol and whether parents monitor teens' alcohol use.  Researchers compared youth with very little exposure to alcohol in films to youth with a lot of exposure. Those with a lot of exposure were: 
  • 25% more likely to have tried alcohol
  • 75% more likely to have binged
  • Twice as likely to be drinking weekly or have had problems related to drinking 
What Changes Can I Make Now?  Youth are easily influenced. This is hardly news. And yet, we are not always careful about what they may be exposed to.  What this study underlines is that we do need to be careful.  As the researchers point out, parents really do need to do their homework about alcohol use in films. Then we should be thoughtful about whether or not we want our child to watch the film.  To make this easier, the researchers suggest that films with alcohol use be classified as for adults, not youth. Too often, this is not the case. In fact, the article says that between 1989 and 2008, about 72% of the most popular films in the UK showed alcohol use. But only 6% of them were classified as being for adults only.   It may take a while for movie ratings to change. But in the meantime, parents can use This terrific website offers much more information than ratings do about movies and what is in them. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Media of all types are playing a bigger and bigger role in the lives of our youth. So it's crucial that we think long and hard about the effects.  Studies like this one can help us to make sure that the effects are as positive as possible.]]>
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:47:00 -0400
Breast Milk Bought Online May Not Be Pure Breast milk bought online may contain some cow's milk, a new study finds. In the study, about 10%... Breast milk bought online may contain some cow's milk, a new study finds. In the study, about 10% contained cow's milk. Researchers bought 102 samples of human milk advertised online. They tested the DNA in each sample. DNA in 10 samples showed that they contained at least 10% cow's milk. The authors said sellers could have added the cow's milk to stretch out the amount of breast milk they could sell. A prior study by the same researchers found that milk bought from online sites also may contain germs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend buying milk online. It has not banned the practice, however. Milk banks are another way to obtain breast milk. They test and pasteurize the milk. But they can't supply everyone. They usually are restricted to babies with medical issues. The journal Pediatrics published the study. HealthDay News wrote about it April 6. What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The Internet is great for buying lots of things online. But human breast milk should not be one of them. Some mothers are not able to make enough breast milk. Some mothers just think they are not making enough. These may lead mothers to turn to "milk banks" to get breast milk for their babies. What is a milk bank? Women who make lots of breast milk sometimes donate their extra milk to a milk bank. There, it gets pasteurized. This kills any harmful germs that may be in the breast milk. Unfortunately, there also are websites that sell breast milk. The seller sends the breast milk to the buyer and gets paid for it. This is NOT a safe way to share breast milk. Breast milk bought online can contain bacteria or viruses or chemicals. Breast milk bought online also may be mixed with milk from a cow. Cow's milk is not recommended for babies younger than 1 year old.
  • Babies cannot digest it easily.
  • It does not have the healthy fat that babies need for brain growth.
  • It can be harmful for babies with milk allergies.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at whether breast milk bought online was pure human breast milk. The researchers also checked to see if any cow's milk was mixed into the breast milk. Researchers used about 100 samples of breast milk. They bought the milk from people who advertised on a popular milk-sharing website. The researchers tested each sample for human milk and cow's milk.
  • All 102 samples tested positive for human milk.
  • Eleven out of 102 (11%) samples were mixed with cow's milk.
  • Of these 11 mixed samples, 10 contained at least 10% cow's milk or formula.
The cow's milk found in the samples did not come from what the mother who sold the breast milk had eaten. Data suggest some sellers took human breast milk and mixed in cow's milk-based formula or store-bought cow's milk. The researchers could not find out whether or not it was done on purpose. Mothers (and doctors) should be aware of the risks of online milk sharing. Buyers are not able to check what is in the milk they buy. Mothers who buy from websites may not be getting pure breast milk. This means their babies may not be getting all of the expected benefits of breast milk. What Changes Can I Make Now?  Breast milk sold online is not safe. It can have cow's milk in it. There are other risks, too. A previous study found that most of the breast milk samples bought online had germs in them. Germs could make your baby sick. This is especially dangerous for babies who were born preterm or have immune systems that don't work right. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend feeding your baby breast milk that you buy on the Internet or get from another person. Breast milk should still be the major source of nutrition during the first 12 months of life. Many good things pass from mother to baby with breastfeeding. Breast milk has the perfect balance of nutrients for the baby. Formula is the next best thing. It also can provide these good nutrients. Whenever possible, feed your baby with your own breast milk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on how to properly express and store your breast milk. If you have trouble making enough breast milk, speak with your doctor. The doctor can give you advice and also may refer you to a lactation (breastfeeding) specialist. If you do choose to feed your baby human milk other than your own, be careful. It is up to people who buy (or receive) the milk to protect themselves and their infants. 
  • Check first with the doctor about all the nutrients your baby needs.
  • Use only milk from a milk bank that screens its donors.
Milk banks take important steps to make sure the breast milk is safe. Donors are told how best to collect, store and ship milk. The milk also is pasteurized before it is given out. Some states have their own safety guidelines for human milk banks. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America also has safety guidelines for its members. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Expect your doctor to advise you on the risks of:
  • Sharing milk online
  • Giving your baby cow's milk before the age of 1 year
As always, doctors will continue to encourage breastfeeding. It is best to use your own breast milk as much as possible. More research is still needed on the risks of milk sharing. Besides cow's milk, babies may be exposed to germs, toxins and drugs, too.]]>
Mon, 06 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
U.S. Cancer Deaths Still Dropping Slowly U.S. cancer deaths continue to decline, a new report says. The overall cancer death rate dropped... U.S. cancer deaths continue to decline, a new report says. The overall cancer death rate dropped an average of 1.5% a year between 2002 and 2011. New cancer cases fell more slowly, an average of 0.5% per year, the report says. The declines in cancer deaths each year were 1.8% for men, 1.4% for women and 2% for children. The report was written by experts from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The authors said the declines reflect earlier detection, prevention and improved treatments. Lung cancer rates are falling because fewer people smoke. Declines in breast and colon cancer deaths also are related to screening and prevention efforts. Prostate cancer deaths also are down, but experts are not sure why. But several much less common cancers are on the increase. They include liver, mouth, throat, thyroid and kidney cancers. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the report March 30. HealthDay News wrote about it.            What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The U.S. "War on Cancer" became official in 1971. Congress passed the National Cancer Act. President Richard Nixon signed it. The law was politically popular. But, more importantly, the new federal law greatly increased cancer research funding by the government and strengthened the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Since 1998, the NCI and other prominent health organizations have published the Annual Report to the Nation on Status of Cancer. This year's report continues to show a steady decline in the rate of yearly cancer deaths.  Does this mean we are winning the war on cancer? The answer is yes if the goal is to extend survival and also provide quality of life. For example, acute leukemia used to be incurable. Death often occurred within weeks to months. Now some forms of acute leukemia have very high survival rates and many people live normal lives.  But we need to be cautious when interpreting the decline in deaths. Newer cancer treatments have clearly played a major role. And early detection surely has saved some lives. But early detection also means more cases of cancer are being diagnosed that never would have caused death.   When more people are diagnosed with non-deadly cancers, the death rate will appear lower than it has in previous years. For example, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test led to a huge increase in the number of prostate cancer diagnoses. The number of prostate cancer deaths in the United States each year also decreased, but not by much. This means that the percentage of deaths from prostate cancer can fall even though about the same number of men die from the disease.  Where we are losing the war is cancer prevention. The number of new cases of cancer in men declined only slightly from 2002 to 2011. And the number of new cancer cases in women remained the same.  Some cancers are actually on the rise in the United States. They include: 
  • Liver cancer, primarily related to hepatitis C.
  • Cancer of the uterus, perhaps related to the rise in obesity.
  • Mouth and throat cancer in men, increasingly caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Smoking was the No. 1 cause in the past. But now fewer U.S. men are smoking.
  • Kidney cancer, reason unknown.
  • Thyroid cancer, reason unknown.
What Changes Can I Make Now? Healthy lifestyle choices provide the best way to prevent cancer. Here's what you can do:
  • Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Stay physically active and schedule daily dedicated exercise time. 
  • Either avoid alcohol or have an average of no more than one alcoholic drink per day. 
  • Avoid binge drinking, even if the average amount of alcohol you drink is moderate. 
  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, especially the green leafy ones. They are rich in folic acid. For women, folic acid may offset any increased risk of breast cancer if you drink alcohol. 
  • Practice safe sex. 
Vaccinations also can help to prevent some cancers. They include: 
  • Hepatitis B to prevent some cases of liver cancer
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer, anal cancer and probably oral cancer
Getting screened also can prevent some cancers. The two screening tests that can prevent cancer, not just detect it early, are:
  • HPV or Pap samples of the cervix in women
  • Colonoscopy to remove benign polyps before they become cancerous
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? The number of people surviving cancer with good quality of life will continue to rise. Already, cancer cells are being tested for markers and genetic changes. This knowledge can help to provide more personalized treatments. For example, this year's cancer status report highlights how advances in breast cancer classification help women get the treatments that are most likely to be successful.
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Training Parents May Help Kids with ADHD Training parents to care for their children with ADHD may lead to improved behavior, a new study...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? About 10% of school-aged children in the United States are likely to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This brain condition makes it hard for children to control their behavior. The social skills of children with ADHD may be limited. They may have trouble getting along with other children. Children with ADHD also may be:
  • Inattentive (having a hard time paying attention and easily distracted from work or play)
  • Hyperactive (always moving and on the go)
  • Impulsive (cannot wait for things and may act and speak without thinking)
ADHD symptoms can be hard to treat. This is especially true for urban children who come from low-income or minority families. This is because:
  • Health care related to behavior often is not as available where they live.
  • Low-income parents are more likely than other parents to have mental health problems of their own. For example, they may be depressed or have ADHD themselves.
  • Studies also show more behavior problems in low-income families. One example is oppositionality. This means refusing to get along with others.
There are ways to help a child with ADHD. Medicines may help. Behavior therapy may help. Parents also can get even more involved in their child's treatment. Parents can learn to work with their child's bad behaviors and help take care of their own mental health problems. What can be done to help more parents be more involved?
  • Motivational interviewing (MI) helps to clear up any confusion about treatment. Parents can better explore what worries them. This helps them decide what to do. It allows parents to find adult behavioral health services, if needed.
  • Triple P's Primary Care model is a group of techniques that helps improve parenting skills and challenging behavior problems in children.
A new study looked at what happens when these two programs are added to a treatment plan for ADHD. This was called enhanced care. The researchers wanted to see if it improved ADHD symptoms for children.The journal Pediatrics published study results. The enhanced care program was tested for a year at 2 urban doctors' offices. Children were 6 to 12 years old. Their parents spoke English or Spanish. Families were low-income.Parents filled out symptom reports at the middle and end of the study. All 156 children got basic care from their doctors. Half of the children also were randomly chosen to have the enhanced care. The authors found that there was no difference between basic care and enhanced care for the whole group of children with all types of behavior issues. However, they also studied only those children who clearly had ADHD (about 40% of the whole group). Overall, enhanced care helped the children with ADHD.
  • Children became less hyperactive and impulsive.
  • Children became better able to get along with others.
  • Social skills improved.
What Changes Can I Make Now? Be aware that motivational interviewing and parental techniques seem to be great ways to help you manage your child with ADHD. Others can use these methods besides a doctor or nurse. Any health-care worker can learn these methods and use them to help treat your child with ADHD. Motivational interviewing is a conversation between two people. It works to strengthen what a person wants to do and why a person is doing it. This process helps the person commit to change. Be open to change. Improving health often means making a change. This is not only true for ADHD, but other health conditions as well. Do not be afraid. You can do it! If you are not sure and need help, feel free to talk with your doctor. Be open to communicating with your doctors or their staff. It is most important for you to feel sure about how to manage your child's health condition. Doctors want you to feel comfortable. They want you to be more confident. Communicating with your health-care provider will help you decide and make those changes you want. You can find more information about motivational interviewing at these links:
  • Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? This study will likely be repeated, with more patients studied to confirm its results. Experts also need to develop better ways to keep track of the progress of children being treated for ADHD. I predict that more health-care professionals will learn and use motivational interviewing and Triple P techniques to help families manage their children with ADHD. Expect more studies that look at using these techniques to help families take better care of their health. I hope that they can be adapted to better meet the needs of children and families to give them a healthier future.]]>
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Report Backs Raising Age to Buy Tobacco Raising the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21 would reduce smoking rates 12% by the time today's...
What Is the Doctor's Reaction? If we want to lower the number of people who smoke, the answer is simple: raise the minimum legal age of tobacco use. By decreasing the number of future smokers, we'll also decrease all the illness and death that come from smoking. That's the bottom line from a report just issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The vast majority of people who smoke start when they are young. In fact, about 90% start before they leave their teens. Almost all start by the end of their 20s. So raising the minimum age to legally buy tobacco becomes important. In 2009, the government gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad authority over tobacco products. It also asked the FDA to study the effect of raising that minimum legal age. The IOM studied what would happen if the age were raised to 19, 21 or 25. For all three scenarios, the biggest effect was seen among youth ages 15 to17. Raising the age to 19 had only a small effect. Most underage smokers rely on friends and family to buy tobacco products for them. Many 19-year-olds are still in their social circles. Therefore, the IOM said, raising the legal age to 19 would not have a big effect on decreasing tobacco use among high-school students. Raising the age to 21, however, did have a big effect. That's because it's far less common for 21-year-olds to be in the same social circles as high-school students. Raising the minimum age to 25 would decrease tobacco use even further. However, the decrease was not as dramatic as raising the age to 21 instead of 19. The IOM said that if we were to make a change now, by the time today's teens were adults, here is what we would see:
  • If the minimum age were raised to 19, there would be 3% fewer smokers.
  • If the age were raised to 21, there would be 12% fewer smokers.
  • If the age were raised to 25, there would be 16% fewer smokers.
These numbers, of course, play out into many fewer diseases -- and many fewer deaths. What Changes Can I Make Now? If you have a teen, talk to him about smoking. Ask if his friends smoke, because that increases the risk that he will, too. Help her understand that smoking is addictive -- and leads to many, many bad health effects, including cancer, lung disease and death. Some youth don't understand that smoking a hookah is smoking tobacco, too. Make sure you talk to your teen about that, and about other forms of tobacco. Tobacco is tobacco. Make sure, too, that you talk to her about using e-cigarettes, sometimes referred to as "vaping." E-cigarettes don't have the tar and other toxins cigarettes have. But most of them have nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes. They may have a role in helping smokers quit, but we really don't want them to have a role in helping smokers start. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? This report doesn't give policy advice, but its implications for policy are clear. I hope that lawmakers will read this report and raise the minimum legal age for tobacco use in all states.  If they do, it will save lives.]]>
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Parents Say Portal Helps with Kids' Asthma A secure patient portal with information, decision support and tracking tools may help... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease of the lungs. It causes wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Children with asthma tend to:
  • Be absent from school a great deal
  • Have many emergency room visits
  • Need a hospital stay more than other kids
Sometimes children even die of asthma. Asthma is hard on children and their parents. They may feel unsure of what to do, how and when. Parents often miss work to take care of their children's asthma. But children may not always need to be seen in the doctor's office every time something seems off or feels wrong. Families might find it helpful to be able to communicate more about their child's asthma with doctors and their staff. How can technology help? Something like MyAsthma may be the answer. It is a secure patient portal that connects parents and doctors together from anywhere. With MyAsthma, parents can:
  • Share worries and goals for treatment
  • Track their children's symptoms
  • Find out side effects of medicines
  • Follow the child's progress to reach a goal
  • Learn about asthma (videos are available)
  • Look at the asthma care plan for their child
A study just released in the journal Pediatrics looked at how families use MyAsthma. The authors wanted to see if it made any difference for their patients with asthma. Children in the study were 6 to 12 years old. Their parents spoke English. Families needed to have a computer and access to the Internet. MyAsthma was tested at 3 different doctors’ offices (1 urban and 2 suburban) for 6 months. Sixty families filled out surveys at the start, middle and end of the study.  All 60 families got usual care from their doctors. Half of the families also were randomly chosen to have the chance to use MyAsthma. They could use it whenever they wanted. The authors found that the families who used MyAsthma overall had better results than those who did not.
  • More than half (57%) of the parents used it for at least 5 of the 6 study months.
  • Parents whose children had worse (moderate to severe persistent) asthma used it more.
  • Most parents (92%) were happy with it.
  • Parents found it easier to share information with their doctor.
  • It also helped them better manage asthma in their children.
  • Parents learned how important it was to pay attention to ongoing treatment.
  • Asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospital stays for children went down.
  • Parents missed fewer days of work because of asthma.
MyAsthma might be a great way for families and doctors to talk with each other. Parents and children may also have an easier time taking care of asthma. What Changes Can I Make Now? Parents and doctors should communicate more often. This is especially true about children with chronic diseases, such as asthma. It is important to feel sure about how to manage your child's health condition. You can do it! The doctors want you to feel comfortable. They want you to be more confident. Technology can support your efforts. The Internet allows information to be more readily available for families. Learn to use it. Take advantage of it. Know which websites have facts you can count on (like this one). The Internet can make it easier to get answers to questions that come up at any time, day or night, weekday or weekend. Technology also can let you stay in closer contact with the doctors and staff who care for your child. They want to work together with you to answer questions and address treatment issues.
  • Ask if your doctors and their staff have a "portal" – an online way to connect. This is where information about your child can privately be shared with them. 
  • Decisions can be made together. Doctors and their staff can help tweak treatment plans as needed.
  • Doctors like to get regular updates on their patients. Check with the doctor on what is the best way to keep in touch. Ask how often he would like you to send him messages.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? I fully anticipate that technology will allow more and more families to manage the medical conditions of their family members from home rather than needing to be seen by the doctor all the time. Expect more studies that look at using technology to help families and doctors share information together for better care. Digital systems that support making the right decision at the right time for the right patient (your child) will be further developed and evaluated.]]>
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400
21% of Teen Girls Report Dating Violence More than 1 in 5 high school girls has been physically or sexually assaulted by someone she dated,...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Teen dating violence is far more common than we realized. For many years, the United States has been collecting information about physical violence in teen dating, using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Thousands of public school students around the country take this survey. It asks all sorts of questions about things like drug use, smoking and sex. It also asks about signs of depression, whether students have been bullied and whether they get into fights. It is a very important survey that helps us understand what youth are doing -- and how best to help them. For more than a decade, there was a single question about teen dating violence. It said, "During the past 12 months, did your boyfriend or girlfriend ever hit, slap or physically hurt you on purpose?" Using this question, about 9% of both boys and girls (the number has remained pretty steady) reported dating violence. But experts worried that this question might be confusing. Because of where the words "on purpose" were in the sentence, it might seem like hitting by accident or as play would be included. Teens also might think the question applied only to people in serious relationships.  Also, the question didn't address how often the violence was happening. So researchers decided to change the question. The new question was: "During the past 12 months, how many times did someone you were dating or going out with physically hurt you on purpose?" And they added this question about sexual violence: "During the past 12 months, how many times did someone you were dating or going out with force you to do sexual things that you did not want to do?" The results were scary. With these new questions, 21% of girls and 10% of boys reported dating violence. This is scary not just because of the violence itself, but also because of what teen dating violence can lead to. For example, teens who reported dating violence were more likely to drink alcohol, get into fights, be bullied or bully others, and think about suicide. What Changes Can I Make Now? It is crucial to educate teens and everyone who interacts with them about healthy and unhealthy relationships. These are some signs of an unhealthy relationship:
  • Acting jealous (not just a little, but a lot)
  • Trying to control the other person
  • Trying to keep the person away from other people
  • Insulting the person or someone he or she cares about
  • Getting very serious very quickly
  • Getting angry easily
  • Casting blame on the other person
  • Pressuring the other person into doing things he or she doesn't want to do 
If one of these things is true of the relationship, that doesn't always mean that it is unhealthy or will end up violent. But it should make you stop and think. And if more than one is true, it should really make you stop and think. More than that, it should make you speak up. Too often, people who know someone in an unhealthy relationship don't speak up. They don't want to hurt feelings. Maybe they think it's not their business. Or they think they shouldn't get involved. But, as with bullying, being a bystander can do real harm. Sometimes people who are in unhealthy relationships don't even realize it, because they have been made to feel like everything is their fault. Sometimes they need someone to point it out to them -- and help them. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? You can use many great resources to learn about teen dating violence -- and learn how to help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some helpful links. I hope that this study will be a wake-up call that encourages more people to get educated. I hope it will help people not just to stay out of bad relationships, but to help those who are in them get out.]]>
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0500