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 Mon, 30 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
Doctors Give Tips on Healthy Eating at School A little sugar and fat is OK in kids' diets if it can encourage them to consume nutritious foods,...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants the food that kids eat at school to be healthy. That seems remarkably obvious. Surely everyone should be able to agree on this and make happen. But it turns out that it's not necessarily obvious -- and not easy to make happen. That's why the AAP has published a policy statement about the food and snacks youth eat at school. Kids eat three different kinds of food at school:
  • The meals that the school gets through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  (breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks)
  • Other food and drinks that the school sells, such as slices of pizza, baked goods or items in vending machines
  • Food and drinks that kids bring into school, or that are sold for fundraising or at school events.
There are rules about the first two, which is helpful. Schools do have to serve healthy meals.  Rules also spell out what other foods can be sold. But these rules don't guarantee that all the food will be healthy. Some schools have even asked for waivers from the rules. One reason is that healthy foods cost more (and the money that schools get from the USDA hasn't kept pace with higher costs). Some schools also say that kids don't like the healthier foods. That's where problems with the third kind of food come in. Many children don't bring healthy lunches or snacks.  And many schools sell candy and other unhealthy foods for fundraisers and at school events. With this policy statement, the AAP wants us all to think about all of the foods kids eat during the school day.  Many children eat a large amount of their day's food at school. So we want to do everything we can to educate people about healthy foods and make sure that kids are eating them. One way schools can educate people is to lead by example. Banning cupcakes from school parties is controversial. But when schools do this -- or when they simply encourage healthy foods or non-food items for celebrations -- they are setting an example. And I hope that this encourages healthy eating habits. What Changes Can I Make Now? There are many things that all of us, especially parents, can do:
  • Support schools and the USDA in serving healthy foods at school
  • Send healthy foods to school, including:
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Water instead of juice or soda
    • Lean meats
  • Limit the junk food and candy sent to school
  • Celebrate birthdays at school with healthier foods (such as fruits) or small gifts for classmates (such as pencils or stickers) instead of cupcakes and other sweets
  • Be thoughtful about what is sold as a fundraiser (maybe books instead of candy bars) and at school events (for example, water instead of soda)
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? We have an epidemic of obesity in the United States.  We need to fight it in every way and in every place we can -- including schools. That may mean making choices that are unpopular, but are in the best interest of our children.]]>
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500
U.S. Teens Losing More Sleep Over Time Over the last 20 years, U.S. teens have been getting less sleep, a new study finds. Between... th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year, they asked the students how often they got 7 or more hours of sleep, as well as how often they got less sleep than they needed. Among 15-year-olds, 72% reported getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night in 1991. By 2012, the number dropped to 63%. The number of teens who reported sleeping 7 or more hours a night dropped dramatically between the ages of 13 and 18 years. About two-thirds of 13-year-olds sleep at least 7 hours a night. Only about one-third of 18-year-olds get at least 7 hours of sleep. Compared with boys, girls are less likely to regularly get 7 or more hours of sleep. Teens with less-educated parents came up short on sleep. And, black and Hispanic teens were less likely than others to get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 hours a night for teens. The journal Pediatrics published the study online. HealthDay News wrote about it February 16. What is the Doctor's Reaction? We all need sleep. It is important for helping our body and brain work well. It is especially important for teenagers. They need the right amount of sleep to grow into adulthood. Many teens are too busy to get the sleep they need, though. They go to school, do after-school activities, play sports, do homework, hang out with friends, work, and use the Internet and social media. To make time, teens often stay up later than they should. The journal Pediatrics just published a new study on sleep trends in U.S. teenagers. Researchers analyzed data from an annual national survey of students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades between 1991 and 2012. This included more than 270,000 teens born between the years 1973 and 2000. The teenagers were asked:
  • How often do you get 7 or more hours of sleep each night?
  • How often do you get less sleep than you should?
Researchers found that:
  • Teens do not sleep as much when they get older.
  • How many hours a teen sleeps has decreased at all ages over time.
In addition, some groups were less likely than others to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. This was based on gender, race, family income and living environment.
  • Girls were less likely than boys.
  • Black and Hispanic teens were less likely than white teens
  • Lower income teens were less likely than higher income teens
  • Teens living in cities were less likely than non-city teens
On the other hand, racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income teens were more likely to report thinking that they get enough sleep. These groups actually reported sleeping fewer hours overall. The researchers think that compared with white and higher-income teens, these teens are not as aware of how much sleep they need. The researchers are worried about these trends over the past two decades. Why? Because the "7 hours of sleep" per night mentioned in the study is actually 2 hours less than what is routinely recommended for teens. Teens who do not get enough sleep are at a higher risk for:
  • Learning difficulties
  • Drug or alcohol troubles
  • Mental health problems
  • Weight gain
What Changes Can I Make Now? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all teens get at least 9 hours of sleep a night. Tell your teen that the right amount of sleep will:
  • Give her more energy
  • Help her brain store all of the information she learned during the day
  • Help her body fight off infection, so she is less likely to get sick
Your teen may feel that she can make up for lost sleep by sleeping later on the weekends. This is NOT true. Your teen should try to get the right amount of sleep each and every night. Make sure your teen is getting the most (and best quality) sleep possible. Have her follow these steps:
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Do this during the school week and on weekends. This will make it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
  • Do not nap during the day.
  • Find a comfortable sleeping place.
  • Set a sleep routine.
  • Avoid exciting or energizing things around bedtime. Relax as much as possible for about an hour before going to bed. Try listening to music or reading. Do not study right up until bedtime.
  • Exercise every day, but not right before going to bed.
  • Avoid drinks or foods with caffeine (such as coffee, soda and chocolate).
  • Do not pull "all-nighters" to study for a test.
  • Do not watch violent TV shows or movies before going to bed.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Better education and more research will better inform public health efforts to reverse these decreasing sleep trends during the adolescent years. You can expect the doctor to talk with your teen (and you) about the importance of sleep. Together you and the doctor can discuss ways to promote better sleeping habits. There must be more education about the 9-hour recommendation of the National Sleep Foundation. Minority groups and lower income families need to know what is the right amount of sleep needed each night. They seem to be less aware of how much sleep is really needed. More research also is needed to understand why teens have been getting less sleep over the past 20 years. It might have to do with:
  • Obesity rates going up
  • More use of the Internet and social media
  • Increasing demands of school and extracurricular activities
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:02:00 -0500
Toddler Foods Found High in Salt, Sugar Many foods for toddlers contain high amounts of salt or added sugars, a new study shows....                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Eating healthy is key for being healthy. Make sure your children start eating a healthy diet early in life. Among other things, this means eating foods that are low in sodium and have no added sugars. This can lower the risk of childhood obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. A new study looked at just how much sodium (mostly salt) and sugar are in foods for infants and toddlers. The journal Pediatrics just released the study online. Researchers checked information from a national database of more than 1,000 foods sold in stores across the United States. The foods included infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts. Products were grouped based on the type of food, serving size and intended age or stage of development. Here's what the researchers found:
  • Most foods only for infants were low in sodium, low in total sugars and did not have added sugar. Of all the foods for infants, vegetables, dinners, plain fruit and dry cereals had an OK amount of salt and sugar.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 (72%) of toddler dinners had too much salt. Each of the toddler meals had more than 210 milligrams (mg) of salt per serving. That is not healthy for a toddler.
  • Most toddler foods also had added sugars. These are extra sugars put into the food. They are not naturally in the food. Common names for added sugars were fruit juice concentrate, sugar, cane syrup and malt.
Overall, it seems that many of the foods sold for infants and toddlers had too much salt or sugar. Most of them had the same amount of salt or sugar that you can find in foods for older children or adults.
  • Infant/toddler snacks had almost as much salt as plain salted potato chips for adults (450 mg).
  • Infant/toddler desserts contained twice as much sugar as vanilla ice cream.
The amount of salt and sugar found in infant and toddler foods is a big problem. Being exposed to salt and added sugars early in life can change:
  • What tastes children like
  • The amount of foods children eat
  • The health of children as adults
What Changes Can I Make Now? You can control the sodium and sugar in your infant or toddler's diet by being careful about the foods you buy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading food labels and picking foods lower in sodium. To keep your child healthy, follow these tips:
  • Check servings and calories. Look at how many calories are in each serving and how many servings are in the package. The food label also tells you how much of each nutrient you get from a serving.
  • Reduce sodium (salt). Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend less than 1,500 mg of sodium each day for children ages 1 to 3. That's the amount in about two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt. Limiting salt may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Most salt comes from processed foods.
  • Reduce sugar. Look for foods and drinks low in sugars. Read the label. Sugars can be listed as sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup or fructose.
  • Cut out soda and juice. This will reduce empty calories from added sugars. Remember that soda and other sugary drinks can increase the risk of obesity and tooth cavities.
  • Give your child water and milk. You cannot go wrong with plain water in children at least 1 year old. Milk has a lot of nutrients that your child needs to stay healthy. Whole milk is recommended to help brain growth in young children under 2. You can choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk products for children beginning at 2 years of age.
  • Remember the AAP recommends "5210 for Healthy Active Living":
    : Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
    2: Limit screen time (TV, video games, computer) to 2 hours or less per day.
    1: Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day.
    0: Drink fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. Try water and low-fat milk instead.
  • Support a healthy lifestyle. Parents (and all adults) are role models for children. Your child will do as you do, and not as you say. Your child is much more likely to eat healthfully and exercise regularly if you do. Of course, you will be healthier, too!
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Expect the doctor to give more advice on a healthy diet at well-baby and well-child visits. A better diet and active lifestyle can help your children stay healthy. Families need more education about the risks of too much salt and sugar. Eating less salt and sugar as infants and toddlers can help set good habits for children. This can lead to better health later in life.]]>
Mon, 02 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500