Cigarette Taxes Associated With Increased Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Adolescents Interview with:
Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS Associate Professor School of Social Work Boston College Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS
Associate Professor School of Social Work
Boston College What is the background for this study?

Response: Increasing cigarette taxes has been a major policy driver to decrease smoking, including adolescent smoking, while taxes on other tobacco products have received less attention. Taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars are all fiscal policies, but they are not all equal. While state taxes on cigarettes have increased substantially over the past decade, there has been little change in policies governing alternative tobacco products.

The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of chewing tobacco and cigar taxes, cigarette taxes, and the enactment of smoke-free legislation on adolescent male and female use of smokeless tobacco and cigars.

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School Based Healthy Lifestyle Program Did Not Bend Childhood Obesity Curve Interview with:
“Lt. Governor Brown Visits Hamilton Elem_Mid School to Highlight Summer Meals Program” by Maryland GovPics is licensed under CC BY 2.0Peymané Adab, MD

University of Birmingham in England What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Childhood obesity is an increasing problem worldwide. In the UK, the proportion of children who are very overweight doubles during the primary school years. Furthermore during this period inequalities emerge. At school entry there is little difference in the likelihood of being overweight between groups. However on leaving primary school, children from minority ethnic groups and those from more deprived, compared to more affluent backgrounds are more likely to be overweight. Excess weight in children is linked with multiple health, emotional and social problems.  As children spend a lot of time at school, it seems intuitive that they are an ideal setting for prevention interventions.

Although a number of studies have investigated the evidence for school obesity prevention programmes, the results have been mixed and methodological weaknesses have prevented recommendations being made. As a result we undertook a major high quality trial to evaluate an intervention that had been developed in consultation with parents, teachers and the relevant community. The 12 month programme  had four components. Teachers at participating schools were trained to provide opportunities for regular bursts of physical activity for children, building up to an additional 30 minutes each school day. There was also a workshop each term, where parents came in to cook a healthy meal (breakfast, lunch of dinner) with their children. In conjunction with a local football club, Aston Villa, children participated in a six-week healthy eating and physical activity programme. Finally, parents were provided with information about local family physical activity opportunities.

We involved around 1500 year 1 children (aged 5-6 years) from 54 state run primary schools in the West Midlands. At the start of the study, we measured their height and weight and other measures of body fat, asked the children to complete a questionnaire about their wellbeing, to note everything they ate for 24 hours, and to wear an activity monitor that recorded how active they were. After this, the schools were randomised to either receive the programme or not. We then repeated the measures 15 and 30 months later.

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Shingles Can Occur At Chickenpox Vaccination Site in Healthy Children Interview with:

Depicted here, is a close-up of a maculopapular rash that was diagnosed as a crop of chickenpox lesions.

Depicted here, is a close-up of a maculopapular rash that was diagnosed as a crop of chickenpox lesions.
“Dew-drop on a rose petal pattern” CDC image

Hannah Song, BA
Medical studen
Harvard Medical School and
Jennifer T. Huang, MD
Division of Immunology, Dermatology Program
Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Infection with the varicella-zoster virus leads to chickenpox, or primary varicella. The virus then lies dormant and can later reactivate as shingles, or herpes zoster.  Varicella-zoster vaccine is made of an attenuated live virus that prevents most people from getting chicken pox, but rarely can reactivate and cause shingles.

There were several pediatric patients who presented to our clinics with shingles/herpes zoster that was localized to one extremity. My hunch was that the extremity where the patients had shingles could be the same limb where they had received vaccination. We called the patient’s pediatricians because pediatricians typically document the extremity where the vaccination is given, and confirmed the theory that shingles in vaccinated children may be more likely to occur at the site of vaccination. Importantly, vaccination may modify the classic appearance of shingles, and you might see pink and red papules and pseudovesicles, rather than classic grouped fluid-filled vesicles on a red base.  Continue reading

Deaf Children With Cochlear Implants Learn New Words Faster Interview with:

BruceBlaus - Own work An illustration of a cochlear implant.

An illustration of a cochlear implant: Wikipedia image

Niki Katerina Vavatzanidis MSc
Department of Neuropsychology
Max Planck Institute for Human and Cognitive Brain Science
Leipzig, Germany
Technische Universität Dresden, Germany What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Cochlear implants (CIs) are a way of providing hearing to sensorineural deaf individuals. The implant works by first picking up sounds from the environment and transforming them into an electric signal. Via an array of electrodes the implant then transmits the signal directly to the auditory nerve, which then leads to auditory sensations in the brain.

In our study, we were interested to see how language acquisition is affected when language immersion occurs at an untypically late age. Children with cochlear implants that grow up in exclusively or predominantly hearing environments will have their first language encounter at the time of implantation, which nowadays is roughly between the age of one and three. Besides the later starting point in language acquisition, children with CIs are facing a compromised input quality compared to typical hearing.

We know from typically hearing children that it is around the age of 14 months that their vocabulary becomes robust enough to react to name violations. That is, when a picture is labelled incorrectly, their brain waves will display with the so-called N400 effect. In our study we were interested whether children with CIs would also show the N400 effect and if so, how many months of hearing experience are necessary. We measured the brain activity of children implanted between the age of one and four at three time points: 12, 18, and 24 months after implant activation. To our surprise, congenitally deaf children whose only language input had been via the cochlear implant already displayed the N400 effect after 12 months of language immersion, i.e. earlier than seen in typically hearing children.   Continue reading

Longer Early Childhood Intervention Linked To Greater Post-Secondary Attainment Interview with:
“preschool joy” by kristin :: prairie daze is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD
Institute of Child Development
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis What is the background for this study?  

Response: Educational attainment is the leading social determinant of health. Higher attainment measured by years of education or postsecondary attainment is linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk; lower rates of smoking, diabetes, and hypertension; and higher economic well-being.

Evidence on the long-term effects of early childhood programs on educational attainment is mixed. Some studies show impacts on high school graduation but not college attainment, the reverse pattern, or no measurement into adulthood. No studies of large-scale public programs have assessed impacts beyond young adulthood. Whether duration of participation over ages 3 to 9 is linked to mid 30s attainment also has not been investigated. Continue reading

Brightly Colored or Black Older Plastic Toys Can Contain Cadmium, Lead or Bromine Interview with:
“Toys” by Holger Zscheyge is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Andrew Turner

Reader in Environmental Science (Biogeochemistry and Toxicology)
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Plymouth, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The study arose through a larger investigation into hazardous substances in consumer plastics, both old and new.

The main finding of the present research was the widespread occurrence of restricted elements in old plastic toys, and in particular cadmium, lead and bromine (the latter an indicator of the presence of flame retardants); in many cases, these elements could migrate from the plastic under conditions simulating the human digestive system.

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Majority of Middle and High School Students Do Not Get Enough Sleep on School Nights Interview with:
“He isn't sleeping, he is mad. When we don't get our way pouting always works (okay.. It's worth a try at least!) #kids #dad #father #family #funny #like #parenting #photooftheday #instaphoto #instacute” by dadblunders is licensed under CC BY 2.0Anne G. Wheaton, Ph.D.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Population Health
Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch
Atlanta, GA  30341-3717 What is the background for this study?

Response: Insufficient sleep among children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and attention and behavior problems.

In previous reports, CDC had found that, nationwide, approximately two thirds of U.S. high school students report sleeping <8 hours per night on school nights. CDC conducted this study to provide state-level estimates of short sleep duration on school nights among middle school and high school students using age-specific recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). AASM has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours for optimal health.

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Children with ADHD Found To Abuse Drugs and Alcohol At Early Age Interview with:

Brooke S. G. S Molina, PhD Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics University of Pittsburgh 

Dr. Molina

Brooke S. G. S Molina, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics
University of Pittsburgh What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been inconsistency across previous studies of children with ADHD and their risk of substance use in adolescence and in adulthood. This study closely examined substance use by children with and without ADHD over a long period of time, considering that experimenting with some substances, such as alcohol and cigarettes, is typical after teens reach high-school age.

This study found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) engaged in substance use at a younger age than those without ADHD and had a significantly higher prevalence of regular marijuana and cigarette use into adulthood.

We also found that children diagnosed with ADHD had a faster progression of substance use during childhood and adolescence.

We confirmed a finding for the ADHD group that is widely replicated in the general population – that early substance use strongly predicts adult substance use.  However, more of the children with ADHD were found to be early substance users, such as having a drink of alcohol before the age of 15.

We did not find higher rates of binge alcohol consumption among young adults with ADHD.  However, alcohol use is still an important part of the bigger picture.

The amount of alcohol consumption was self-reported in a questionnaire where the average age of all participants was 25. Binge drinking is very common in early adulthood, but given our findings of children with ADHD starting to drink at younger ages, it’s important to continue this research so we know how many young drinkers with ADHD continue to have serious, chronic problems with drinking as they age. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: It’s very important to understand from our findings that substance abuse begins at a young age – often before high school.  Parents and providers need to understand this and continually assess risk.

We are concerned about the long-term consequences of these substance use patterns.  We do not know how many of these individuals will experience painful and expensive middle age outcomes of chronic substance abuse and associated problems such as divorce, employment problems, injuries, poor health and shortened life expectancy.  Some will be resilient and decrease their substance use.  We need to learn what predicts these outcomes. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: The marijuana use finding is also concerning given the increasing availability of cannabis in the United States and the risk and consequences for children with ADHD needs further study. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: These results suggest a crucial need for routine clinical practice to include early screening and interventions to prevent early substance use, including cigarette smoking, among children with ADHD.

Many children with ADHD end up being cared for in primary care settings, so pediatricians are the front-line treatment care providers and conversations about substance use need to begin early. When children with ADHD are being treated, we need to start monitoring their potential risk for substance use at a young age, and not only treating with medication, but considering the range of factors that increase their risk for becoming dependent on nicotine and for developing substance use disorders. 


J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 8. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12855. [Epub ahead of print]

Substance use through adolescence into early adulthood after childhood-diagnosed ADHD: findings from the MTA longitudinal study.

Molina BSG1, Howard AL2, Swanson JM3, Stehli A3, Mitchell JT4, Kennedy TM5, Epstein JN6, Arnold LE7, Hechtman L8, Vitiello B9, Hoza B10. 

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Only An Hour Of Daily Social Media Linked To Decreased Sleep in Adolescents Interview with:
“social media” by Jessie James is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jean-Philippe Chaput, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa
Research Scientist, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: No studies to date have examined the association between social media use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and sleep duration in a representative sample of middle and high school students, who are a vulnerable age group that has reported high levels of social media use and insufficient sleep.

Our findings suggest an important association between the use of social media and short sleep duration among student aged 11-20 years. Using social media for at least one hour per day was associated with short sleep duration in a dose-response manner.    Continue reading

Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Leaves Young Adults Vulnerable to Sexual Dysfunction Interview with:

Chiara Acquati, Ph.D., MSW Assistant Professor Graduate College of Social Work University of Houston Houston, TX  

Dr. Acquati

Chiara Acquati, Ph.D., MSW
Assistant Professor
Graduate College of Social Work
University of Houston
Houston, TX What is the background for this study?

Response: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are individuals between the ages of 15 and 39 years at diagnosis, as defined by the National Cancer Institute. Considerable research has unveiled unique psychosocial challenges experienced by AYAs, including poor quality of life, an altered body image, and social isolation.

As a result of these life disruptions, normative psychological and emotional development is affected by the disease and its treatment, particularly with respect to sexual identity, development, and behavior. However, few studies have examined sexual functioning and AYA patients’ needs with respect to emotional intimacy and sexual relationships. Estimates of the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in AYAs are limited to date and vary because of data derived from mixed-age groups, single items instead of standardized instruments, and cross-sectional designs. Yet, the state of the science suggests that one-third to two-thirds of cancer patients experience sexual dissatisfaction and a reduced frequency of intercourse. Furthermore, failure to address sexual health may place AYAs at risk for long-term consequences related to sexual functioning and identity development, interpersonal relationships, and quality of life. Hence, detecting changes in the rate of sexual dysfunction over time may help in identifying the appropriate timing for interventions to be delivered.

This study was conceptualized to increase our current knowledge of sexual functioning among AYAs by examining the prevalence of sexual dysfunction over the course of 2 years after the initial cancer diagnosis and the identification of variables that contribute to the probability of reporting sexual dysfunction in order to recognize individuals at higher risk. Young adult patients (≥18 years old) were administered the sexual functioning scale as part of a larger longitudinal multisite survey, and only those who completed the instrument at least once were included in this analysis; for this reason the article focuses on the experience of “young adults”.

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