Adolescent Health Update

With summer winding down and school revving up, let’s take a moment to review recent developments in adolescent health research.

First, the bad news(that we kind of already know): our kids don’t get enough sleep, and those practices extend far into their overall wellbeing.  British researchers report a strong correlation between poor sleep and weight problems.  You can see the study here.

I have written about the HPV vaccine before, and strongly recommend your child receive it.  Recent studies in Australia and New Zealand show that the expected health benefits predicted from HPV immunization are beginning to occur there (vaccine rates are much higher in those countries), with lower rates of genital warts being reported.  A recent US study did show that laws requiring HPV for school admission had no effect on adolescent sexual behavior.  Teens were no more likely to be sexually active after receiving it.  This research backs up previous work done at Kaiser Permanente  that demonstrated similar results.  Again, I strongly urge parents to get their teens and “preteens”(10-12 yrs) immunized, maximizing the opportunity to provide protection prior to any exposure to the virus later in life.  As I keep stressing–its a CANCER shot, not a sex shot.

Let’s end on a positive note.  Long term studies conducted at the University of Michigan strongly suggest that teens are abstaining from alcohol, psychoactive drugs, and tobacco at a much higher rate compared to decades past–as much as 5x less! That’s great news!!  The researchers did state that, as more states legalize the use of marijuana, this trend may change.  I will not advocate pro or con on this public policy issue as it plays out in NJ here.  But it is food for thought.

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Trampoline (non) Safety

I’m surprised at myself–I’ve been at this blog for 4 years now and have not mentioned trampolines.  Time to fix that.

(Please note that here we are not discussing trampolines utilized as part of a specific organized athletic discipline program, like diving or gymnastics–assuming an approved practice facility with properly maintained equipment and trained coaches and spotters)

I’ve discussed the danger of recreational trampoline use throughout my career, and for good reason, I think.  According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons(AAOS), there are >250,000 trampoline injuries annually, approximately 186,000 of those <14 years of age.  The smaller the child the greater the risk–48% of injuries <5 years of age are fractures or dislocations.  75% occur when multiple people use the apparatus simultaneously.

Recently the AAP revisited the trampoline safety issue due to now rapidly proliferating “trampoline parks”–from 3 nationwide a decade ago to now >800 such facilities.  The industry is virtually unregulated.  Please note: proprietors insist that, given the inherent risk of trampolines, they make every effort to insure their patrons’ safety and I take them at their word.  Nevertheless, we note that annual ER visits from injuries at tramp parks have increased from 581 in 2010 to almost 7000 in 2014.  The AAOS recommends that no child < 6 years should use a trampoline.  We pediatricians are even tougher:AAP now says no children should use them recreationally, period.

Considering a trampoline in your yard?  Please remember the following:

  • Single user at a time
  • Keep at ground level if possible
  • No summersaults, flips, or other “trick” maneuvers–most common cause of serious neck injuries
  • Active adult supervision (mere “presence” is insufficient)
  • Adequate protective padding and a safety net.  Remember : the safety net does not replace adult supervision and does not prevent on-apparatus injuries.
  • Frequent safety inspection. Replace damaged, worn parts. If unavailable, the tramp should be discarded
  • This is key: MAKE SURE that your homeowner’s insurance covers trampoline liability. Many do not.  Also be aware that you are responsible for any child on your trampoline whether you gave permission for its use or not. That’s right: if a neighbor sneaks into your gated yard without your knowledge or consent and injures himself on your trampoline then YOU are still responsible, even if you were not home at the time.  The trampoline is an “attractive nuisance” in your possession on your property and the injured party is a child, so YOU are financially responsible for the injury, not him or his parents. Also be aware that if you fail to notify your carrier of the presence of a trampoline on your property then they might possibly use that information to cancel your policy even over an unrelated liability matter due to your failure to disclose

My question:  how many trampoline owners out there are following the above safety regimen?

My recommendation?  As almost always, I follow the AAP: best to forget the whole thing.  Its a health and financial catastrophe waiting to happen.  Do you really need this head/heartache?  Just ride a bike or have a catch with your kid instead!

Thanks for following