Sugar pills work as well as leading prescribed drugs on juvenile migraine — and no side effects

❝ Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids’ migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens.

It’s the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults’ migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month’s time. Both drugs worked that well — but so did placebo sugar pills.

❝ The study was released online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development paid for the research.

“The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement,” said Dr. Leon Epstein…He said it should lead neurologists to rely on other prevention strategies; he advises lifestyle changes including getting more sleep and reducing stress, which he said can help prevent migraines in teen patients…

❝ Side effects from the drugs were common, including fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Almost one-third of kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug.

The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn’t be “first-line prevention treatments” for kids’ migraines, study author Scott Powers said.

Sad commentary on much of American medicine: inadequate testing to determine effectiveness – lax IMHO. Drug manufacturers are essentially focused on achieving at least a minimal positive effect – while not killing the patient – and providing the highest possible profit margin.

Teen salt intake especially worrying

Just like adults, children and teens in the U.S. consume a great deal of sodium — about 1,000 mg above the recommended maximum daily intake on average, according to a new CDC “Vital Signs” report.

Results from the 2009-2010 edition of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 2,266 children 6- to 18-years-old, indicated a mean daily intake of 3,279 mg of sodium, whereas the recommended maximum in the Healthy People 2020 initiative is 2,300 mg/day, according to the report.

Sodium consumption was especially high in teens — participants of high school age had a mean intake of 3,672 mg/day.

As has been reported many times before, the report indicated that much of the sodium came in the form of commercially prepared foods — pizza, fast foods, soups, and snacks. Between-meal snacking accounted for 16% of overall intake, and school cafeteria foods contributed 26% of daily sodium intake on the days that children ate them.

The report’s authors noted that new standards for school meals will reduce their sodium content by 25% to 50% by 2022. But the impact on total sodium intake will reduce the average by only 150 mg/day at most — still leaving most children with daily intake well above the recommended maximum.

Given some recent reporting perhaps I shouldn’t be too cynical about Americans revising their diet, learning enough about nutrition to build a healthier life for future generations.

Well, maybe.

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the road to diabetes

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the fast track to diabetes, if they don’t already have the disease, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…

In less than a decade, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes has jumped from 9% in 1999-2000 to 23% in 2007-2008. The statistic is concerning on its own, but considering that the American Heart Association tags diabetes as one of a handful of major “controllable risk factors” for cardiovascular disease, it’s even more important to pay attention…

Sifting through nine years of comprehensive data from 1999 to 2008 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that 49% of overweight teens and nearly two-thirds of obese teens had one or more risk factors, plus the complicating factor of their weight.

Risk factors included prehypertension/hypertension, borderline and high LDLC (the “bad” cholesterol), low HDLC (the “good” cholesterol) and prediabetes and diabetes.

Among those adolescents who were overweight or obese, 26% also had prehypertension or hypertension, as well as borderline or high LDL. That percentage has not fluctuated significantly since 1999, nor has the proportion of obese teens changed, which may explain why hypertension and “bad” cholesterol rates haven’t jumped…

A plateau — or, even better, a decrease — isn’t likely to happen without significant public-health efforts promoting healthy lifestyles.

I would address parents as much or more than public officials. With Congressional Republicans playing at their usual 3 Stooges routine over healthcare and public health, I wouldn’t count on Uncle Sugar helping out in the foreseeable future. If Americans are dumb enough to vote Republicans back into office they probably won’t understand they’re helping their kids commit suicide via a couch potato lifestyle.

You have to understand you need the whole package: exercise and sports which will stay with you your whole life, quality nutrition ain’t expensive – doctors’ bills are, healthy food in moderation. Information is cheap. Killing your kids with crap food isn’t worth a damn.

Potential sale of gay teen database invokes privacy concerns

A row has erupted in the United States centering on the ownership of a gay teenagers’ database.

The owner of XY Magazine and its associated website – which catered for young homosexual boys – filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. XY’s creditors have applied for the firm’s one remaining valuable asset: its database of one million users. But the Federal Trade Commission has expressed its concerns and said the sale “could violate Federal law”.

The issue of selling databases is not new, but it is the sensitivity of this particular database that is catching the attention of lawmakers.

The list contains details of tens of thousands of young men, the majority of whom will be gay.

Writing on the technology blog Read Write Web, Curt Hopkins summed up the concern felt by many users.

The selling off of private information, gathered under the supposition of privacy, is bad enough,” he wrote.

“Even worse if you’re forced into it.

“And positively untenable when the information is connected to kids who are dealing with a dawning sexual reality that in some instances is even more fraught than what straight kids go through,” he added.

The point is made by a UK commentator that “information shouldn’t be used for a purpose other than for which it was originally intended.” Hard to administer or enforce in the era of data-mining. A process which – in and of itself – is free of value judgements.

However – the big word – when you add the context of many societies governed by ideologies ranging from dislike to hatred, fear to bigotry, questions of privacy originally guaranteed by an online contract should be substantial. And pre-eminent.

My kid wouldn’t do that…

It can be difficult for parents of teenagers to come to terms with the fact their kids may have sex, particularly given widespread concerns about the consequences of teen sexual activity. In fact, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that many parents think that their children aren’t interested in sex – but that everyone else’s kids are.

“Parents I interviewed had a very hard time thinking about their own teen children as sexually desiring subjects,” says Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of the study. In other words, parents find it difficult to think that their teenagers want to have sex.

“At the same time,” Elliott says, “parents view their teens’ peers as highly sexual, even sexually predatory.” By taking this stance, the parents shift the responsibility for potential sexual activity to others – attributing any such behavior to peer pressure, coercion or even entrapment…

These beliefs contribute to stereotypes of sexual behavior that aren’t helpful to parents or kids.

“By using sexual stereotypes to absolve their children of responsibility for sexual activity, the parents effectively reinforce those same stereotypes,” Elliott says.

Parents’ use of these stereotypes also paints teen heterosexual relationships in an unflattering, adversarial light, Elliott says and notes the irony of this: “Although parents assume their kids are heterosexual, they don’t make heterosexual relationships sound very appealing.”

Elliot has a paper describing the study…in the May issue of Symbolic Interaction. And he has a book on the topic – Not My Kid: Parents and Teen Sexuality – arriving in bookstores this year.

Sounds like it’s worth a read. Especially by parents of teenagers.

“Educational project” for kids – couple helped teens make bombs

Prosecutors in Minnesota said a couple allegedly helped their teenage son and his friends make pipe bombs as an “educational” activity.

Scott County attorney Pat Ciliberto said Robert and Roberta Masters of Prior Lake, Minn., helped the group create the pipe bombs they used to blow up six mailboxes in the area, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday.

“I don’t think you … can have a rational discussion about why folks would knowingly allow juveniles access to Pyrodex and PVC pipe for the purpose of making explosive devices,” Ciliberto said.

The mother of one of the teens told authorities Robert Masters said it would be “a good educational tool for the kids to build pipe bombs.” She quoted Roberta Masters as saying she “did not want to stifle her son’s curiosity.”

Investigators said the couple told the teens to “be careful” with the bombs and one of the boys told police the adults may not have known what the group intended to do with the bombs.

The couple are due to make their first court appearance Nov. 2.

A family that preys together, stays together.

Girls threatened with porn charge sue prosecutor – UPDATED


One summer night in 2007, a pair of 13-year-old northeastern Pennsylvania girls decided to strip down to their skivvies to beat the heat.

As Marissa Miller talked on the phone and Grace Kelly flashed a peace sign, a third girl took a candid shot of the teens in their white bras.
It was harmless, innocent fun, the teens say.

But the picture somehow wound up on classmates’ cell phones, and a prosecutor has threatened to charge Miller and Kelly with child pornography or open lewdness unless they participate in a five-week after-school program followed by probation.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to block Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. from filing charges, saying that the teens didn’t consent to having the picture distributed and that the image is not pornography, in any event.

Skumanick said he would fight the lawsuit. “Frankly, we just wanted to protect these kids…

The ACLU’s lawsuit claims…the photos are protected First Amendment speech.

Basic premise #1: people who think images distributed electronically are like carrying a single copy to show a friend and, then, bringing it back home safely are too ignorant for polite description.

Basic premise #2: 19th Century moralists in cop suits are about as useful to the process of moderating communications between human brings as a cast-iron gag. The all-seeing eye of someone who’s growing old awaiting his turn to run for governor.

UPDATE: The ACLU and the girls won their case and the judge has ordered charges dropped. Bravo for common sense.