Aetna Latest Healthy Living News http://www.planforyourhealth.com/ Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna en Aetna Latest Healthy Living News http://www.planforyourhealth.com/ http://www.planforyourhealth.com/ Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna TYPO3 - get.content.right http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 Best Flu Vaccines for Seniors, Kids http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/best-flu-vaccines-for-seniors-kids/ The nasal flu vaccine is more effective for young children, and the high-dose flu shot may be... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Protection against influenza keeps getting better. The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices just released updated advice for this coming flu season. The big change is that there is now a preferred vaccine for many younger children. And new research shows that older adults have better flu immunity if they receive a high-dose flu shot. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study results yesterday. Here are some key points in this year's flu vaccine advice:
  • The flu strains covered by the 2014-2015 vaccines will be similar to what was covered last season.
  • A child, ages 6 months to 8 years, who received at least one dose of flu vaccine last season will need only a single dose of this season's vaccine. Two doses are required if no vaccine was given last season.
  • Live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist) squirted into the nose is the preferred vaccine for children ages 2 to 8 years. It provides better protection than the flu shot in this particular age group. The flu shot contains no live virus.
The advisory committee did not say anything new about the high-dose flu vaccine (Fluzone) for adults 65 years and older. However, the results of the study published yesterday show that it is better than standard-dose vaccine for this group. The standard vaccine protects about 60% of adults from getting the flu. Protection is lower in adults 65 and older, about 50% effective. Fluzone High-Dose contains inactivated particles of virus. It is given as a shot. It has four times as many of these particles as the standard vaccine. This translated into:
  • A more potent immune response, as measured by antibody levels in the blood
  • A 24% lower risk of getting sick with the flu for older adults in the study
The researchers estimate that the high-dose flu shot provides seniors with the same level of protection that younger adults receive from the standard flu shot. The high-dose vaccine can cause more side effects. These may include short-term, low-grade fever, discomfort at the injection site and general achiness. But it appears to be just as safe the standard vaccine. In this study, fewer people who received the high-dose vaccine reported serious side effects than those who got the standard dose. What Changes Can I Make Now? With some rare exceptions, everyone 6 months and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. Depending on your age and medical conditions, some types of vaccine may be better for you than others. But it is more important to get vaccinated with the standard flu shot if that is the only one available. The high-dose flu shot and FluMist also might be more costly for some people. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Scientists will continue to get better at predicting which strains to include in the yearly flu vaccine. And they will discover new ways to make the shots more effective.]]>
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Study Links Mental Delays, Behavior Problems http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/study-links-mental-delays-behavior-problems/ Babies with delays in mental development may be more likely to have behavior problems later.... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Sometimes there is more to a fussy baby or a toddler having a tantrum than meets the eye. Difficult behavior -- such as fussiness, tantrums, aggression or clinginess -- is very common in babies and young children. It's so common, in fact, that we don't think anything of it. If we see it in someone else's child at the park or store, we often chalk it up to poor parenting. But sometimes behavior problems can be a sign of something else: a cognitive delay. "Cognitive delay" means that a child learns or understands something later than others the same age. Cognitive delays are different from motor delays. With a motor delay, a child does something physical (such as sitting or crawling) later than other children. A child with a cognitive delay might take longer to talk, or understand words, or figure out how to play with another child. It's easy to understand why a child with cognitive delays might have behavior problems. If a child doesn't understand that when his mother leaves she will come back, he might get extremely upset every time she leaves. If a child can't explain what she wants, she may throw tantrums out of frustration. And if a child doesn't understand the concept of sharing a toy, she may hit or otherwise be aggressive toward a child who is playing with a toy she wants. Researchers were interested in knowing if there were links between cognitive delays and behavior problems. In particular, they wanted to find out how this played out over time. Because for many children, delays are just that: delays. With a little time, the children catch up completely with their peers. Other children don't catch up. In that case, the delays become a sign of a bigger problem. The researchers studied 8,000 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. They looked at the children's development as well as signs of behavior problems. Examples of behavior problems included:
  • Being fussy
  • Showing aggression
  • Getting easily upset
  • Demanding attention
  • Breaking things
  • Having tantrums
  • Being overly active
  • Having sleep problems
  • Having difficulty engaging in tasks
  • Being distractible
The good news from this study is that researchers found cognitive delays got better in 80% of the children who were found to have them at age 9 months. As for behavior problems, they were indeed more common in children with cognitive delays. Problems were noted as early as 9 months.  About 1 in 5 children with cognitive delays that got better had a behavior problem. In children whose delays didn't get better, that rose to 1 in 3. What Changes Can I Make Now? As I said before, most of the time behavior problems in children are entirely normal. They may be related to the situation or the child's temperament. Sometimes they are related to parenting. (Setting consistent, loving limits can make all the difference.) But sometimes they are a sign of a bigger problem. If your child is having persistent problems with behavior, talk to your doctor. Even when it's not a sign of a bigger problem, your doctor can help you sort out what's triggering the behavior and help you come up with strategies to manage it. But if your child is showing any signs of delays in development, it might be a good idea to have a developmental evaluation done. This will help determine if there are any problems that should be addressed. If there are, the sooner you find them, the sooner you can get your child help -- and that can make a big difference with cognitive delays. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? What I want most as a pediatrician is for my patients to have the best future possible. Finding problems early -- and getting help for them quickly -- makes that more likely. I hope that this study, and others like it, will help children live happier, healthier lives.]]>
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:18:00 -0400
Kids May Be Happier with a Little Gaming http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/kids-may-be-happier-with-a-little-gaming/ Kids who play video games, but for less than an hour a day, may be better adjusted than those who... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Video and computer games can be fun. Some children spend hours a day playing them. Many parents wonder, "Is this bad for my child?" A new study in the journal Pediatrics looked at some of the positive and negative effects of playing electronic games. Researchers wanted to know how the amount of time spent playing these games affects a child's social adjustment. The researchers gave surveys to almost 5,000 boys and girls. Their ages ranged from 10 to 15. The children and teens were asked how much time they spent playing video or computer games each day. The choices were:
  • 0 hours (non-player)
  • Less than 1 hour (light player)
  • 1 to 3 hours (moderate player)
  • More than 3 hours (heavy player)
They then were asked about:
  • Positive behaviors (such as helping others and caring about people's feelings)
  • Negative behaviors (such as having trouble paying attention and not getting along with others)
  • Level of happiness (about school, friends, family and how they looked)
The researchers found that compared with non-players:
  • Light players reported more positive behaviors and feelings and fewer negative ones
  • Moderate players reported no difference in positive or negative behaviors and feelings
  • Heavy players reported more negative behaviors and feelings and fewer positive ones
The researchers say that the differences between groups were small, but still important. Playing electronic games for less than an hour a day was linked with good social adjustment in this study. In contrast, playing for more than three hours a day was linked with poor social adjustment. What Changes Can I Make Now? Make sure your child spends his free time doing things that will help him develop a healthy mind and body. Great options include:
  • Reading
  • Playing outside
  • Taking part in sports
  • Spending time with friends
Playing video or computer games some of the time is OK. It may even have some benefits for your child. But playing them too much may:
  • Keep your child from getting needed exercise
  • Interfere with schoolwork and household chores
  • Possibly lead to aggressive behavior (if it is a violent game)
  • Affect your child's friendships
This is why it is important to monitor and limit the amount of time your child spends playing electronic games. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of "screen time" a day. This includes watching TV or movies, playing video games and using the computer, smart phones or tablets.  A child under 2 years old should have no screen time at all. If your child wants to play a video or computer game, consider these tips:
  • Make sure the game is suitable for her age. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rates video games. Stay away from games rated "M" for mature (for ages 17 and older). These can have extreme violence, sexual content or both.
  • Preview the game. Even with ratings, it is still important to preview the game before letting your child play. The game's rating may not match what you feel is right for your child.
  • Keep the video game console or computer in an open, common area of the house (not the bedroom). This way, your child will be able to interact with others in the house while playing. It will also let you keep track of the types of games and how much she is playing.
  • Watch your child's behavior. Look to see if he seemsmore aggressive after playing a violent game. Discuss the game with him. Explain that the violence in the game is different from what happens in real life and why.
  • Think about "active" video games. Some games do get your child moving. Remember, though, that this is not the same level of exercise as playing outside or taking part in sports.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? This study gives us a better idea of how electronic gaming might affect a child's development. Expect your child's pediatrician to talk with you about limiting video games and other screen time. More research is needed to understand how electronic gaming influences children. It seems to be more than just limiting play. Future studies will look at differences based on the type of game, why the child is playing and the child's level of engagement. This will better inform guidelines for electronic gaming made by parents, health professionals and policymakers.]]>
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:31:00 -0400
Doctors Condemn Fla. Gun-Law Ruling http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/doctors-condemn-fla-gun-law-ruling/ Medical groups have denounced a court decision upholding a Florida law that forbids doctors from... th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision July 25. The court said that "inquiring about a private matter irrelevant to medical care isn't part of the practice of good medicine." Several doctors' groups disagreed. The American Academy of Pediatrics called the decision "an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of pediatricians." Many children's doctors ask about guns in the home. They offer advice on safe storage to help keep guns away from children. On August 1, a new coalition of 20 medical groups also decried the ruling. The coalition said the issue is "much bigger than gun safety." Doctors talk to patients about things that could affect their health and safety. "Government intrusion" in this process could put patients' health at risk, the group said. Med Page Today wrote about the reactions. What Is the Doctor's Reaction? On Friday morning, a newly formed group called the Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship released a strongly worded statement in opposition to Florida's gun-safety counseling law. The coalition is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group of health-care professionals. It includes doctors, students, nurses and lawyers from 20 different organizations. Briefly, the Florida Legislature passed a law in 2011 that forbade doctors from asking their patients whether they owned a gun unless it was directly relevant to patient care. The law was overturned by a U.S. district court. The court said it violated the doctors' rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution -- the right to free speech. Last week, however, a U.S. appeals court said that the law could stand. The court said that the practice of good medicine does not require questions about irrelevant, private matters.    The new coalition issued a strongly worded statement that addressed two issues. The first is firearms safety. The second, and larger, issue is about government intrusion on patients' relationships with their health-care professionals.  Under the Florida law, medical caregivers are not protected by the First Amendment when they ask whether people have guns in their homes.  Doctors, particularly those who care for children and families, often ask about guns in the home. They do this in order to counsel families about gun safety.  Research shows that this kind of counseling and education can decrease the likelihood of injury and death.  Intrusive questions are part of a comprehensive health assessment! I ask a patient about gun safety to help prevent injuries and accidents. For most doctors, this doesn't feel very different than asking people about using alcohol or drugs, about smoking, about exercise and diet. I ask young people about birth control or what they might do if they or their partner had an unplanned pregnancy. I ask older people about things that might increase their risk of falling. I ask depressed people about whether they have plans to harm themselves. I ask men and women if they are safe in their relationships. Part of my job is to help people to consider their health and safety risks and to think about ways to reduce those risks.  As important as the specifics of the ruling are, the issue of government intrusion on the doctor-patient relationship is particularly worrisome to me and to members of the coalition. The relationships between health professionals and patients need to be based on privacy, trust, and respect.  In order to really take good care of you, your doctor needs to be able to ask some difficult questions. You need to be able to trust that your doctor is trying to help you, not judge you. You need to know that your doctor will keep what you say confidential. When the government gets involved in this type of private conversation, it's bad medicine -- for everyone. Your doctors might be afraid to ask an important question. You might be afraid to tell your doctor the truth. When secrets, lies and fear dominate a medical conversation, everyone gets hurt.  I strongly believe that medical caregivers should be able to ask about factors that affect patients' risk of harm -- including firearms. I also fear the slippery slope of involving a third party -- the law -- into what should be a private and personal dialogue, based on trust. What Changes Can I Make Now? If you have firearms or other weapons in your home, be sure to store them in a locked cabinet. Children should not be able to get the keys. Ideally, lock up the gun's ammunition, too -- in a different and separate place. If you have questions, talk to your health-care professional about the best way to keep your family safe. Even in Florida, the law does not prevent a patient from asking his or her doctor a question! If you share the new coalition's concerns about the Florida law, then make your voice heard. If you are a resident of Florida, write to your state legislators. Let them know if you don't think this is a good or safe law. Urge them to craft better legislation. If you live in another state and have concerns about the Florida law, reach out to your own elected officials. Let them know that you feel that doctors should not be limited in the questions they can ask patients. Let them know that you want your doctor to be able to address issues of health and safety in a private, confidential, nonpolitical setting. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? I doubt that we've heard the last about this law. I would expect further appeals. The decisions made about this law could truly impact all of us.]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 14:34:00 -0400 RSV Drug Recommended for Fewer Babies http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/rsv-drug-recommended-for-fewer-babies/ A large group of children's doctors says that only certain high-risk babies should receive a drug... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The winter is coming. Your baby might get a runny nose and a cough. Maybe even a fever. Is it respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)? Could be. Almost all children are infected with RSV by the age of 2. RSV infections continue throughout life. RSV tends to be less of a concern as children get older. RSV causes cold-like symptoms. When the upper airway is the problem, it is called an upper respiratory infection. When the lungs (lower airways) are the issue, it is called bronchiolitis. RSV infection can be more severe in certain babies who:
  • Are very premature (born much earlier than expected)
  • Have health conditions that affect the heart, lungs or immune system
There is one drug that may help certain babies. It is called palivizumab (pah-lih-VIH-zu-mahb). This drug is an antibody. It is made from a substance in blood that helps to protect against a specific disease. It is given as a series of monthly shots. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has carefully analyzed all studies that have been published on RSV and palivizumab together. This includes:
  • When RSV circulates in different parts of the United States
  • What factors increase the risk of having problems with RSV
  • How often babies have a hospital stay (or die) from RSV bronchiolitis
  • How palivizumab works in the body
  • How well this drug prevents wheezing in the future
  • Drug resistance
  • Costs
Many other experts from around the country provided input. This complete science review guided the AAP's latest advice on the use of palivizumab. The journal Pediatrics just published the updated policy statement. Palivizumab is not for all infants. Research suggests that it works best to reduce serious lung infections caused by RSV in babies who have an increased risk of severe disease. Therefore, the AAP now recommends palivizumab only for high-risk children who are most likely to benefit. These include:
  • Infants born before the 29th week of pregnancy who are younger than 12 months at the start of RSV season
  • Infants with chronic lung disease of prematurity (born earlier than the 32nd week of pregnancy and requiring extra oxygen for at least the first 28 days after birth)
  • Infants with certain heart problems
  • Children under 2 years old with severe immune problems during the RSV season
  • Some Alaskan Native or American Indian infants
The AAP now has a much better understanding of which babies are at risk. As with any drug, it is important to use palivizumab in children most likely to benefit from it. What Changes Can I Make Now? If your baby is at increased risk of severe RSV disease, palivizumab during RSV season may help. It means going to the doctor each month to get a shot in the muscle. Remember that during these monthly visits, babies may be exposed to a different infection, such as influenza, by other children in the office. Your baby's doctor can help you decide if the baby might benefit from this drug. The latest AAP advice means that a more focused group of children is eligible for palivizumab than in years past. But this does not mean that more children will be at risk for severe RSV infection. The AAP recommends palivizumab for only a very small number of infants because the evidence shows that the benefit is so limited. Palivizumab does not prevent RSV. It has been shown to only modestly reduce how often children have to stay in a hospital for bronchiolitis treatment. It has not been shown to lower death rates. It has minimal effect on reactive airways disease and asthma. RSV spreads easily from person to person. Children are most likely to catch it during the RSV season. This usually lasts from November to April. Here are some things you can do to protect your baby from RSV:
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breast milk provides antibodies, which help fight infection.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap before picking up and holding your baby.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper arm.
  • Wash objects that are touched a lot, such as toys. Use a disinfectant wipe or a cloth with soap and hot water. (A disinfectant is a cleaner that kills germs.)
  • Do not smoke around your baby. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of a serious RSV infection.
  • Try to steer clear of anyone who seems to have a cold. 
  • Keep your baby away from crowded areas, such as shopping malls and elevators. RSV spreads more easily when there are lots of people around.
  • Avoid large-group child care during RSV season.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? The AAP still believes that palivizumab is helpful for babies at greatest risk from RSV infection. Experts will keep studying, analyzing and reviewing the data on palivizumab and RSV. As new studies are published, guidelines might change again. An RSV vaccine would provide even better protection. Researchers are working on making a safe and effective vaccine against RSV.]]>
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:52:00 -0400
Teens at Top High Schools Take Fewer Health Risks http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/teens-at-top-high-schools-take-fewer-health-risks/ Going to a top-performing public high school can reduce very risky health behaviors among... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The high school a teen goes to matters — in ways that can't always be controlled and aren't always fair. Researchers in Los Angeles were interested in how going to a more successful high school affected the choices teens make in terms of risky healthy behaviors. This is very hard to study in general, because there are so many "confounders." Confounders are factors that muddy the waters of a study and make it harder for researchers to understand the results. When it comes to successful schools and risky behaviors, what most commonly confounds studies is that successful schools tend to be in communities where parents have higher incomes and more education. So if kids do better, it's hard to know if it was the school or the parents that made a difference. To try to sort this out, the researchers looked at two groups of teens that had many similarities. They were from similar ethnic backgrounds and came from families with similar income and educational backgrounds. And their families were motivated to help them succeed. All the teens also applied to lotteries to get into successful public charter schools. The difference between the two groups was that one group got into the schools, and one group didn't.  The researchers compared math and English test scores, school retention and risky health behaviors between the two groups. They divided the risky health behaviors into two groups: risky (alcohol, tobacco or drug use, unprotected sex) and very risky (binge drinking, substance use at school, risky sex, gang participation). The teens that got into the charter schools had higher test scores, were more likely to stay in school, and were less likely to have very risky behaviors than those who didn't get in. When it comes to risky behaviors, while there was a difference (those who got in seemed to have fewer), it wasn't statistically significant. Which isn't all that surprising. No matter where they go to school, teens are still teens — and a certain amount of risk-taking comes with the territory. There are many reasons this could happen. Here is what the researchers suggest:
  • Teens who learn more, and have better grades, may make better health decisions.
  • The school environment may make a difference. For example, being in a higher-performing school may mean less exposure to kids who are making risky decisions — so the peer pressure to do so may be less.
  • Getting better grades may give kids more opportunities and more hope for their future, which may lead to less interest in taking risks.
  • Being in school or doing more homework may leave less time to get into trouble.
What Changes Can I Make Now? Whatever the reason for the difference, this study certainly underlines what we have known for some time: better schools can lead to better futures for kids. That's why it's really important that we do everything possible to improve schools, especially in low-income areas, and especially for children whose parents may be less able to support them and advocate for them. It's also very important for parents to do everything they can to get their children into the best-performing school possible. This is most important for low-income families and those with less education. As much as possible, they should avail themselves of every resource possible, and try to get their children into charter schools and other better-performing schools, and even private schools that offer scholarships. Teachers, doctors, coaches, family members and friends should try to educate and support parents in any way they can in this process. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? The divide between rich and poor has been widening in this country. Unless we pay attention to the findings of this study and others like it, and do something, the gap will widen further. This is a matter of social justice; hopefully we can come together to do the right thing for all children.]]>
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:16:00 -0400
Affluent Teens More Likely to Use Hookah http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/affluent-teens-more-likely-to-use-hookah/ Nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors has smoked tobacco through a hookah, or water pipe, a new survey... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? If you are the parent of a high school student, it's time to talk to them about hookahs. Why? Because according to a study just released in the journal Pediatrics, 18% of high school seniors have smoked them. A hookah is a water pipe that is used to smoke a specially made tobacco. The tobacco is often flavored, with flavors such as mint or licorice. Hookahs come in all shapes and sizes. There are even some electronic versions. Usually, a group of people smokes a hookah together, inhaling smoke from the mouthpiece and passing it from person to person. Smoking hookahs is an ancient practice, begun centuries ago in Persia and Asia. Perhaps because it is so ancient, many youth and young adults think that it isn't as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. But it is actually just as dangerous, if not more so. The smoke you inhale from a hookah is just as full of toxins and cancer-causing chemicals as the smoke from a cigarette. It carries all the same health risks as smoking cigarettes. It also contains nicotine, the chemical that causes addiction to cigarettes. What makes it possibly more dangerous is the way it is smoked. It takes an average of 20 puffs to smoke a cigarette. But in smoking a hookah with other people over an hour, you can take 200 puffs. That's a whole lot more toxins inhaled. According to the study, youth who smoke tobacco or use alcohol or other drugs are more likely to smoke hookahs. That's not surprising. What was a little surprising was that the youth who smoke hookahs, unlike those who use other forms of tobacco, are more likely to have parents with more education and income. What Changes Can I Make Now? The most important thing we all can do is educate ourselves and others about the health risks of smoking hookahs. That's why parents need to talk to their children, teachers need to talk to their students and coaches need to talk to their athletes. Anyone who interacts with young people should find out what they know about hookahs, and whether they are smoking them. We need to talk to youth about the risks, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and lungs. Talk to them about how they can end up with even higher risks of these terrible diseases than with other forms of tobacco. Overall, fewer youth are smoking these days. So putting it in these terms may help them see hookah smoking differently. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Youth will always take risks and try things that aren't healthy for them. It's our job as caring adults to do everything we can to reduce the risks, and keep them as healthy and safe as we can. Talking about hookahs is another way to do that.]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 Middle-School Sexting Linked to Having Sex http://www.planforyourhealth.com/living-healthy/health-news/healthy-living/healthy-living-details/newsarticle/middle-school-sexting-linked-to-having-sex/ Middle school students who send and receive sexually explicit messages (sexts) are also more... What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Parents may use a cell phone to send and receive calls. It is a phone, after all. Teens do the same thing with their cell phones. But in this age of technology, your teen is likely to be doing more than just talking. You should worry that he or she may be sexting. Sexting means sending and receiving sexual pictures or text messages. It is big problem because sexts can:
  • Lead to risky sexual activity
  • Be shared with people who are not meant to see them
A new study in the journal Pediatrics looked at how sexting and sexual behaviors might be related in middle-school students. About 1,200 students from Los Angeles completed questionnaires. The students were between the ages of 10 and 15 years in grades 6 through 8. Almost 75% of middle school students had a cell phone that could send and receive texts. Of this group:
  • 1 in 5 had received a sext
  • 1 in 20 had sent a sext
Researchers found that sexting was more common among teens who text a lot. Students who texted 100 or more times a day (an average of more than 4 texts per hour) were:
  • More than twice as likely to receive a sext
  • Nearly 5 times as likely to send a sext
Students who had sexted also were more likely to have had sex (vaginal, oral or anal) than those who had not:
  • 7 times as likely if they had received a sext
  • 3 times as likely if they had sent a sext
The study noted differences on who sends or receives sexts based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. Some examples include:
  • Males were more likely to send a sext.
  • African-American students were more likely to receive a sext.
  • Students who self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure were more likely to send a sext.
The researchers are worried about their findings. They show that sexting is common in middle school and among youth as young as 10. Sexting is most common among those having early sexual activity. This increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy. What Changes Can I Make Now? Parents must know about sexting. It is a serious problem that can lead to risky behaviors. It also can damage how a teen feels about herself or himself. This is especially true when a sext goes public. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents talk with their children about sexting as soon as they get their first cell phones. Here are some tips:
  • Ask your child if she knows what sexting is. It is important to understand what your child already knows about this topic.
  • Use language she can understand at her age. If your child is too young to know about sex, explain that texts should never have pictures of people without clothes on. If your child is older, you can use the word sexting and give examples. 
  • Explain that sexting cannot be undone. Once a message or picture is sent, your child cannot take it back. It can be spread quickly and be seen by others.
  • Teach your child to follow the "What would grandma think?" rule. If grandma should not see it, then they should not send it.
  • Warn your child that sexting can be a crime. It can involve the police. It can go on their permanent record for life. This could prevent your child from going to college or getting a job.
  • Bring up stories from the news. Show your child that sexting has real costs and punishments.
  • Talk with your child about peer pressure. Practice with your child how to refuse if she is asked to sext.
The conversation should be about more than just sexting. Talk about the risks of sex. Talk about how to stay safe. Make sure your child knows:
  • How pregnancy happens
  • How to avoid getting pregnant
  • What sexually transmitted infections (like HIV) are
  • Ways to say "no" to having sex
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Expect your pediatrician to discuss sexting (and sex in general) with your teen at a young age. As a parent, you should do the same. Sexting should become part of health education programs in all middle schools, too. Research should look more closely at how middle-school students interact with one another using texts. There is a need to know more about the use of sexting in all parts of the country (urban, suburban and rural). The impact of sexting on the mental health of teens also needs to be explored.]]>
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:11:00 -0400