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Friday
Dec072012

Girls Who Smoke at Increased Risk of Osteoporosis?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- If you're a female, and a teenager, and you smoke -- you could be setting yourself up for problems that already affect women disproportionately, according to a new study.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and more prone to break. It's much more common in women than men, and now a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that girls who smoke put themselves at an even greater disadvantage.

Scientists led by Dr. Lorah Dorn at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center studied 262 healthy girls between the ages of 11 and 17 for three years.  Over time, they found that girls who smoke showed decreased bone density, which could lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

The teenage years are crucial in a woman's bone formation because a girl gains as much bone in the first two years surrounding her first menstrual cycle as she loses in the last 40 years as an adult.  Women begin with lower bone density than men, and they lose bone more quickly as they age.  Consequently, the study authors say teen girls shouldn't give the process a head start by smoking.

The study also looked at symptoms of depression and alcohol consumption, and found that depressive symptoms also increase osteoporosis risk, but alcohol has no impact.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Parenting Debate: Waxing for Girls Younger Than 15?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Young girls are growing up faster than ever before, wearing makeup and high heels. But what about a cosmetic treatment that many middle-aged women find painful?

More teens and tweens today want to get waxed, a grooming technique that involves applying hot wax to remove unwanted body hair.

And a new ad for a salon chain that offers discounts on waxing for girls 15 and younger has reinvigorated the debate among parents about how young is too young.

The debate erupted after a 50 percent-off promotion began running for Uni K Wax salons up and down the East Coast, targeting teens 15 and younger to celebrate their independence this summer by getting waxed.

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“Celebrate Freedom and Independence All July,” the ad reads. “During the month of July, girls 15 and under can enjoy their FIRST waxing experience and find it NATURAL, SAFE and PLEASANT.”

It’s not just this ad. It seems many teens and tweens – some as young as 10 – are now prepping for summer camp by removing unwanted hair.

Anna Dolgon-Krutolow, 12, begged her mother to take her to Uni K Wax Salon in New York City for a bikini wax. “I swim when I’m at camp so I just wanted to just be fresh,” she said.

For her mother, Carol Dolgon-Krutolow, the procedure wasn’t an easy sell.

“She was very adamant, you know, and she’s becoming a woman,” her mom said. “She’s very concerned about how she looks and it’s important that I listen to her.”

But some, including Atlanta-based therapist Tiffanie Henry, fear that waxing could be over-sexualizing teen girls. “I just really have a difficult time stomaching, inviting girls, specifically girls who are 15 years of age and younger into a salon to be waxed,” said Henry, co-host of ABC’s The Revolution.

Uni K Wax stands by its promotion. In a statement to ABC News, the CEO and founder Noemi Grupenmager said the promotion is intended to help young girls boost their self esteem.

“By the age of 11 or 12, some young girls develop hair on their legs and upper lip.  This can not only be embarrassing, but it often makes these young girls targets for bullying at school, especially during PE and recess,” Grupenmager said. “Uni K Wax is offering a safe solution in a comfortable environment for these girls.”

This was the case for Anna, who considers the procedure a confidence booster and said she plans to come back for another wax.

“I really feel that once I go to camp I’m going to be more self confident and less self conscious, which is a really great feeling,” she said.

Uni K Wax requires minors younger than 17 to have their parents sign a consent form before receiving any treatments.

Therapist Henry advises that tween waxing opens the door even earlier for mothers to have an important conversation with their daughters about their bodies.

“Moms need to be talking to their daughters about grooming, about their daughter’s body changing, about hair growing in places that hair has never grown before,” Henry explained.

Click here to read the full statement as received by ABC News from Noemi Grupenmager CEO and founder of Uni K Wax Center.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Girls Can Hang Athletically with the Boys, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Who said girls can’t hang with the boys?  At least according to one study, young ladies can perform just as well in certain sports as their male counterparts.

Researchers from Indiana University examined data from USA Swimming-registered boys and girls ages 6 to 19.  The total data included 1.9 million swims between 2005 and 2010.

The research showed no difference in swim performances among girls and boys younger than eight.  The study also found little difference in 11- and 12-year-olds.  It was only when children started hitting puberty, around 13 years old, that boys started beating girls.

It is a commonly held belief that girls and boys cannot compete equally due to differences in physique and skill, Joel Stager, professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University at Bloomington and lead author of the study, wrote in an email to ABC News.

“Our data would seem to argue that this is not always the case,” he said.  “Due to differences in developmental pace it seems to be true that at least in some sports there are periods of time during which girls and boys might be athletic equals.”

The increased muscle mass found in boys compared to girls does not happen until puberty, said Dr. David Rubin, assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

“As a result, the finding that boys and girls aged 8 and under perform the same in a task driven by muscle mass and function makes sense,” said Rubin.  “The 11 to 12 year old group is interesting, in that the girls overall are likely taller, and more of them would be in puberty compared to the boys.

The relatively fewer boys that are in puberty in this group, however, are likely developing more muscle mass and increasing performance,” Rubin continued.  “Overall, the groups again even out.”

After everyone hits puberty full swing, results begin to mirror what is expected in adults.  Boys, due to their increased muscle mass, will often outperform in tasks specifically related to muscle mass.

“It’s important to remember, however, that sports often rely on more than just muscle,” said Rubin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

Four-Year-Old in Makeup: How Young Is Too Young?

Huntstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mommy blogger who wrote about her child's new fascination with adult cosmetics has ignited an online debate over how young is too young for girls to become interested in beauty.

Lindsay Cross wrote on the website Mommyish.com about how her 4-year-old daughter Brenna's interest in cosmetics came about after the young girl watched her apply makeup before attending events. When she shared how applying cosmetics soon became a special bonding routine between mother and daughter, she didn't anticipate the intense reaction from the online community and beyond.

"When I wrote the piece I didn't think it was that monumental of a deal," Cross told ABC News. "I didn't think that it was something that was just too out of the norm...I did notice some articles that said 'Suri Cruise wears very bright lipstick,' and there were so many people who were critiquing their parenting choices, because this 5-year-old is wearing makeup. I was like -- 'of course she does, she's 5 and her mom wears lipstick.'

"I think that [in] parenting, we all want everybody to be like us, because I think then that means that we did it right," she added.

Reaction to Cross's article ranged from Internet commenters who say that she is allowing her daughter to fall prey to society's notions of beauty at far too young an age, to a psychiatrist who maintains that this can lead to an unhealthy desire for flawlessness.

"As someone whose mom couldn't leave the house without being done-up, and subsequently infused this into her daughters' psyches, I say watch out," one commenter wrote. "Please don't help your daughters fall into the 'pretty' trap so young."

Adolescent psychiatrist Henry Paul agrees, saying that 4 years old is too young for a girl to be wearing makeup.

"The use of makeup in some way can be addictive, and what these children would be addicted to is the pursuit of perfection -- the superficial, skin-deep, I'm only as good as I look [attitude]," Paul said.

Cross, however, maintains that her daughter's makeup is just child's play.

"I think that with makeup, for her, it's a way for her to be like her mom. I don't think that she puts two and two together, where you have to wear makeup so that you can present yourself to the world," Cross explained.

Cross says that when she brings her daughter out, most people don't notice that Brenna is wearing makeup, as she does not wear red lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, or foundation.

When asked, Brenna said that she likes to wear makeup "because it makes me pretty."

Cross says that she does understand that it is contradictory to tell her girl that one doesn't have to wear makeup to be beautiful, but that she's allowed to because she feels the prettiest when she puts it on. She says that she intends to have a more serious conversation on the matter when Brenna is older.

For now, Cross say she just wants her daughter to enjoy being a child.

"Now it's dress-up and playing pretend," she said. "It's playing that she's older. And I think that as she gets to be a bit older, she'll look at it differently, and well talk about it differently."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Binge-Drinking Teenage Girls Can Black Out, Get Into Trouble

File photo. Monkey Business/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a few too many drinks, Holley, once a teenage binge drinker, was barreling down a highway at 90 miles per hour and running red lights. She said she didn't remember doing it until she saw herself on film.

Holley's exploits are featured in the documentary Faded: Girls & Binge Drinking, a movie about teenage girls who drink heavily because they feel enormous peer pressure to fit in. It offers a sobering message for unsuspecting parents and for teenage girls.

According to several surveys, an estimated one in four teen girls don't just drink, they binge, meaning five or more drinks in one sitting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 90 percent of alcohol consumed by youths is through binge drinking.

Rebeccah Thomas said she had no clue her 17-year-old daughter Erin was secretly binge drinking, until one night Erin wound up at a party with older boys that she didn't know well and landed in a police station.

"I thought I'll just take a couple drinks, I'll relax, I'll get to know these people, but then it became one or two beers and that turned into I'll take another shot and another shot," Erin Thomas said. "I probably consumed about four beers and I want to say 10-13 shots."

With all that alcohol in her system, Thomas said she passed out. But that night she got into a car with her boyfriend, who was busted for drinking after being pulled over, and Thomas was taken into custody by police. Her mother Rebeccah got a heart-stopping phone call from a police officer.

"At first the officer said, 'Are you Rebeccah Thomas and is your daughter Erin Thomas?' I just thought, 'Oh my gosh is she dead?' The worst, that's where your head is. I was just panicked," she said.

Often binge drinkers aren't the college campus misfits. They are just as likely to be "good girls," who are under enormous pressure to fit in. Erin Thomas said she first began lying to her mother when she was in the eighth grade.

"It was about me wanting to make a decision and knowing that I wasn't going to be able to do anything unless I did it behind her back," she said. "I think one of the main things that I struggled with is trying to be independent at a young age."

Underage bingers will often secretly "pre-game," pounding back large quantities of alcohol before their school dance or a big game, where alcohol is strictly banned.

"You're encouraging each other, 'just do it, just, fast, just, here-and telling each other tips on how to drink it faster, so you don't taste it,'" Holley said.

Alcohol mixed with wild partying is featured in several teen movies, including the American Pie series, Superbad, Mean Girls, and more recently, Project X -- Hollywood's take on a high school party run amok.

For girls, alcohol has the added danger of giving them courage to act out sexually, making them more vulnerable, and then providing an excuse for risky behavior the morning after.

During her 40 years as a pediatric trauma nurse at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Ore., Shelley Campbell said she has treated all sorts of ghastly consequences.

"About three-fourths of the injuries, all injuries [related to] falling, tripping over a curb, had alcohol on board," she said. "Or people heard there was a party, this happens frequently, and show up, and they can't get rid of them, and so we got knives pulled, we've got guns pulled, and then we have violence."

Just this month, a high school student was shot and killed at a Project X copycat party in Houston.

But beyond getting injured, a new study from Stanford University shows that teen girls are more likely than boys to physically damage their brains from binge drinking because they weigh less and their livers process alcohol differently. Brain scans conducted on intoxicated teenage girls have shown less activity in the areas of memory and spatial awareness.

As the documentary Faded showed, binge drinking can start young, which is why Campbell talks about the dangers of alcohol with middle schoolers, before puberty, and the anxiety that comes with it, hits.

Girls Inc., a non-profit organization that works with local communities to empower young girls, also has an outreach program in Portland, where they target 12-year-olds with exercises designed to prepare them for the inevitable temptations in their teenage years, including partying, boys and drinking.

A person is five times less likely to abuse alcohol as an adult if she can just delay drinking until after age 15, according to the National Institute of Health.

Looking back, Holley, who is now 28, said that perhaps the best prevention for binge drinking is helping a young girl beat back her escalating insecurities.

"I'd tell her that she's beautiful, and she's capable of doing whatever she wants to do, and I don't think I knew that, that I could be cool without it," Holley said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar052012

Could Vitamin D Be Linked with Lower Stress Fracture Risk in Girls?

FogStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- We hear a lot about the benefits of vitamin D -- the so-called "sunshine vitamin." Now research has found that vitamin D appears to increase bone strength in teenage girls.
 
A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine followed more than 6,700 girls aged 9 to 15 from 1996 to 2001.
 
After reporting on their dietary intake, including dairy, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin supplements, researchers at the Children's Hospital Boston found that stress fractures developed in 3.9 percent of the girls studied, with 90 percent of them among those who participated in high-impact activities such as organized sports.
 
The girls who had recorded the highest intake of vitamin D from food and supplements had a 50-percent lower risk of stress fractures than those getting the lowest amount.
 
The study authors say their findings support the recent move by the Institute of Medicine to increase the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D for adolescents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Boyfriends' Money Affects Teen Girls' Condom Use

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Teen girls whose primary source of spending money comes from their boyfriends are less likely to use condoms, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine obtained data from an HIV prevention study that included 715 African-American teen girls in the Atlanta area.

Almost a quarter of the females, ages 15 to 22, attending family-planning centers said their primary source of spending money was from their boyfriends, rather than from their parents, grandmothers or jobs.  The teens were 10 percent more likely not to have used condoms in the previous 60 days.

Few girls reported using other methods of contraception, researchers said. Also, girls whose boyfriends owned cars were also about 50 percent more likely not to use condoms than those whose boyfriends did not own cars.

"After matching the groups on over 75 characteristics, the teens whose primary source of spending money was their boyfriend were still 50 percent more likely not to use condoms, and they were less likely to respond to the HIV prevention intervention," said Janet Rosenbaum, lead author of the study and research faculty at the Maryland Population Research Center in College Park.

Women with less relationship bargaining power -- and hence limited ability to insist on safe sex -- are particularly at risk of condom non-use, the authors wrote.

In a way, these girls are trading unsafe sex for money, Rosenbaum said, even though most of them reported being in long-term and monogamous relationships.

"Medical interventions alone will not cure or solve the problem of nonuse of condoms," said Dr. Paula Hillard, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford School of Medicine.  "We need societal changes and changes in the messages we provide to adolescent girls. ...We need to provide alternative messages about power and self-efficacy that will counter the tendency to succumb to coercive relationships and unsafe sex."

To counter these societal norms, Rosenbaum said clinicians must consider teens' economic circumstances when conducting safe sex interventions.

"Teens may act unwisely in order to meet their material needs and wants," Rosenbaum said.  "Interventions and clinicians may need to concentrate not just on safe sex behavior but also on helping teens to evaluate their needs versus wants."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

California Girls to Get HPV Vaccine without Parental Consent

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- California girls as young as 12 can soon receive the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine without the consent of their parents. Last Sunday Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.

“It’s always a close question as to what we might allow,” ABC News’ affiliate KABC-TV reported Brown as saying. “But we do that with other reproductive kinds of issues, and I felt this one was similar to what we’ve done before.”

The HPV vaccine, which includes the brands Gardasil and Ceravix, can be administered to girls as young as 9, and as old as 26. Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S., and almost all of these cancers are HPV-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The HPV vaccine can prevent several strains of the cancer.

The new law, sponsored by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other state health agencies, set off a flurry of protest from several conservative groups.

“Jerry Brown is deceptively telling preteen girls it will protect them from HPV, giving them a false sense of security that they can have the sexual activity they want without risking developing cervical cancer or a raft of other negative consequences,” Randy Thomasson, a spokesperson for SaveCalifornia.org, said in a statement.

Karen England of Capitol Resources Institute criticized the law because of what it might mean in taxpayer dollars.

“If her parents aren’t aware of it, she will be emancipated, and the state will be paying for every single minor that’s encouraged to go into a clinic and get these different boosters,” England told KABC-TV.

About 30 other states have enacted laws similar to California’s.

Dr. Mark Einstein, director of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Obstetrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said that the HPV vaccine is recommended by all scientific stake-holding organizations as routine for all 11- and 12-year-olds in the U.S., but that less than half of vaccine-eligible girls are getting the vaccine. Far fewer get all three doses.

“One of these challenges is the need for parental consent,” said Einstein. “In the U.K., Australia and other countries, such a need for parental consent does not exist, and their vaccine rates exceed 80 percent of vaccine-eligible girls.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

Safe Medicine? More, Younger Girls Starting on Birth Control

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of teenage girls on the birth control pill has jumped 50 percent in the past decade in the U.S. alone, according to a study released this March by Thomson Reuters.

Today, one in five American girls between the ages of 13 and 18 -- two-and-a-half million teens in all -- are on the birth control, the study found, and doctors say the age at which teens start on the pill is getting younger and younger.

"We have put people on the pill who are as young as 12," Dr. Mary Rosser, a gynecologist in Larchmont, New York who treats adolescents, told ABC's Good Morning America.

Rosser attributes the growth of birth control use among teens to the increasingly young age at which girls begin to menstruate, some as young as age 10, and the rising number of sexually active teens.

"Almost half of teenagers ages 15 to 19 report they have had sexual intercourse at least once," Rosser said.

Rosser says most parents come to doctors, seeking birth control prescriptions for their daughters, in order to treat their teens' acne, regulate menstrual periods, and to prevent teen pregnancy.

"I think it's okay to have their teenager on the pill if they are ready to go on it and they ask for it," Rosser said of the approach she takes with her own patients.  "I think it's safer than having a teen pregnancy."

While Rosser takes a proactive approach towards birth control for teens, the rising popularity of the drug does not come without controversy.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology asserts the pill is safe, but acknowledges it is associated with a heightened risk for blood clots.

Several studies in recent years have also suggested a possible link between the pill and breast cancer, with organizations like the World Health Organization even calling the pill a carcinogenic.

"I've found that some women who've been on birth control pills for a while have trouble conceiving," Dr. Erika Schultz, a New York City-based internist who specializes in women and hormone issues, told Good Morning America.

Schultz said she believes the pill can do more harm than good, and worries that doctors are overprescribing the pill to a generation of teens seduced by glossy ads put forth by an oral contraceptive industry that generates sales of $4 billion per year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Binge Drinking Teen Girls, Not Boys, Have Bad Spatial Memory

Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Binge drinking is known to have a negative impact on a teen's working memory -- the kind that allows you to use a map, do math calculations, or perform complex sports plays.

But how does binge drinking's effects differ when compared amongst girls and boys?

Researchers at San Diego State University sought to answer this very question by examining how teenagers' brains reacted to various tests.  They gave attention and memory tests to 40 self-reported binge drinkers and 55 non-drinkers, all between the ages of 16 and 19, while they were in a brain scanner.

The authors of the study, published Friday in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that binge drinking girls had less activation of certain areas of the brain and performed worse on attention and memory tasks compared with non-drinking girls.

On the other hand, binge-drinking boys actually had more brain activation and did better on the task involving spatial memory than non-drinking boys.

The authors conclude that "women may be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence, while men may be more resilient to the deleterious effects of binge drinking."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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