It’s an all-too-familiar scenario for many parents: Your preschooler starts to act up just as the phone rings or you start dinner. Maybe you hand over an iPad or smartphone to soothe the child so you can get down to business. And this probably does the trick. But if this is your go-to strategy, your child may be at risk for developing longer-term behavioral issues — especially boys and kids already hard-wired to be hyperactive or impulsive. “If a child is upset and has big emotions and you hand over a smartphone or tablet to distract them, it may keep the peace in the moment, but if this is the main way you soothe your child, it will be a setback in the long run,” said study author Dr. Jenny Radesky. She is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health Children’s Hospital, in Ann Arbor. Instead, kids need to learn how to identify these emotions and develop self-soothing strategies, she said. “Kids who don’t build these skills in early childhood are more likely to struggle when stressed out in school or with peers as they get older,” Radesky added. For the study, the researchers looked at 422 kids and 422 parents, analyzing how often parents used screens to calm kids aged 3 to 5. Over a six-month period, the investigators charted kids’…  read on >  read on >

Before you toast the holiday season with too much alcohol, here’s a sobering thought. Folks who get injured severely enough while intoxicated to require hospital treatment are five times more likely to die in the coming year, according to new research published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The same is true of folks with alcohol use disorders. “Injuries are one of the most immediate hazards of problematic drinking behavior,” said lead researcher Sidra Goldman-Mellor, an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, Merced. “In addition to getting injured from things like car accidents and falls, some people may get injured in fights or even engage in self-harm after they’ve been drinking,” she said in a journal news release. “However, we actually know very little about what happens to people with an alcohol use disorder after they’ve had a serious injury,” Goldman-Mellor said. “So, we wanted to investigate the most important outcome of all: How likely they were to die?” For the study, she and her colleagues looked at 10 million visits to emergency rooms between 2009 and 2012 by California residents ages 10 and older. Of those, more than 262,000 had an injury that wasn’t fatal initially and either had a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder or were intoxicated at the time. In all, close to 77% of the…  read on >  read on >

With more American men turning to testosterone therapy as a way to boost energy levels, build muscle and tackle erectile dysfunction, it’s no wonder that web-based merchants have stepped into the breach, seeking to grab market share away from doctors and pharmacies. But are online testosterone purchases safe? No, a new investigation warns. The conclusion follows an anonymous testing of seven U.S.-based online entities that sell testosterone therapy to consumers across the country. The upshot: The vast majority of online portals are perfectly willing to sell the hormone to patients who are not, in fact, testosterone-deficient. Most also fail to inquire about potentially problematic underlying conditions and neglect to caution patients about the possible risks involved, including infertility. “We found that most of these platforms offer treatment to men who are not considered appropriate candidates according to existing medical guidelines, and many platforms were not offering appropriate counseling regarding the risks of treatment,” said study author Dr. Joshua Halpern. He is an andrology and infertility specialist and assistant professor with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago. This is a potentially big and growing concern, the study team pointed out, given that between 2017 and 2019 there was a 1500% jump in the number of visits to direct-to-consumer online portals that claim to treat erectile dysfunction. That said, “testosterone therapy is a well-established medical…  read on >  read on >

A high number of preteens and teens in the United States have viewed pornography and many have also sent or received nude or seminude photos — sexting — over their smartphones, a new study reveals. “The prevalence rates we found in this study suggest that school counselors must be prepared to talk about sexting and pornography use with students, and to change the narrative about these behaviors,” said Amanda Giordano, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the University of Georgia Early College of Education, in Athens. “It’s important that students know that sending a sext is not a new requirement for romantic relationships and that pornography does not reflect expectations for sexual activity,” Giordano added in a university news release. For the study, the researchers questioned 350 students, aged 12 to 17 years. The investigators found that 15% had sent a sext to someone. About 25% had ever received a sext. About 25% had ever been asked to send a sext. About 12% said they had felt pressure by someone to send a sext in the past year. This pressure was concerning because of the unintended consequences of sexting, such as having the picture forwarded to others, put online or used as a form of blackmail to get the person to meet other demands, the researchers said. “If your boyfriend, girlfriend…  read on >  read on >

A simulator may make driving safer for teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by training them to take shorter glances away from the roadway. Focused Concentration and Attention Learning (FOCAL) is a computer-based program that teaches teens to keep their eyes on the road. For this study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, a driving simulator was added to give students immediate feedback. The researchers, led by Jeffery Epstein of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, called the combined training FOCAL+. The 76 teens who participated in FOCAL+ had a nearly 40% lower risk for a crash or near crash compared to those in a control group who did not do the training, the study found. For the training, those in the FOCAL+ group were shown a split screen. The top half of the screen displayed a driver’s perspective of a roadway. The bottom half displayed a map. Participants were shown a street name and told to touch the space bar to identify the street on the map, causing the roadway to disappear. Pressing the key a second time restored the map. Toggling between the two represented multitasking while driving. When the map-only screen was displayed for more than three seconds, an alarm sounded. In a subsequent trial, the alarm sounded after two seconds. In the simulator training that followed, participants sat at a…  read on >  read on >

Once a year, giant motorcycle rallies ride into places like Daytona Beach, Fla., and Sturgis, S.D., bringing hundreds of thousands of people, an economic boost — and a wave of crash-related deaths. That means more organs available for donation and the need to be prepared, according to a new study that examined the issue. Researchers looked at seven major U.S. rallies between 2005 and 2021 that each drew between 200,000 and 500,000 people. During these events, there were 21% more organ donors per day and 26% more transplant recipients on average in the regions near the rallies compared to the weeks before and after the events. “That highlights a clear need to improve the safety of the public and the attendees around these events,” said co-author Dr. David Cron, a general surgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “That being said, so long as there continues to be increased risk associated with these events, we should at least recognize the potential for there to be an increased number of organ donors arising during these events.” Ahead of rallies, health care systems should prepare for increased demand for trauma care, and those involved in organ transplantation should also be prepared, researchers said. Cron said the study was an outgrowth of a get-together where medical colleagues chatted about ideas that could make a difference on public…  read on >  read on >

It might be tempting to buy prescription medication online, but buyers should beware, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns. While some pharmacy websites operate legally and can offer convenience, privacy and lower costs, others may be selling unapproved, counterfeit and unsafe medications, the FDA advises. Many unsafe online pharmacies do exist, offering prescription medications without requiring a prescription and selling them at “deeply discounted” prices. These pharmacies may use fake “store fronts” designed to mimic licensed pharmacies. They may imply or say that their medicines come from countries with high safety standards, according to the FDA. Yet, what they’re selling could be made anywhere without safety or effectiveness. The drugs could also be fake or expired. Be wary if the online pharmacy does not require a doctor’s prescription, the FDA cautioned. Other red flags: The pharmacy is not licensed in the United States or by your state board of pharmacy and doesn’t have a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer questions. You should also beware medicine that looks different from what you receive at your usual pharmacy, arrives in damaged packaging, is labeled in a foreign language, has no expiration date or is expired. A price that seems too good to be true is another warning sign. An unsafe online pharmacy may not provide clear written protections about guarding your personal and financial information,…  read on >  read on >

That smartphone in your hand could be triggering your allergies, a new study by an 18-year-old high school student suggests. A science fair project by Hana Ruran, of Hopkinton, Mass., found that cellphones are often loaded with cat and dog allergens, bacteria and fungi. “I have my phone always with me. It’s always in my hand. I never put it down for anything,” said study author Hana Ruran, a senior at Hopkinton High School. “And I have a lot of allergies. I just got interested in doing something that affects me.” The bottom line: It’s a good idea to wipe down the surface of your phone, especially if you have allergies. The research is being presented Thursday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. “The study demonstrates exposure to inhalant allergens and molecules that trigger innate immune reactions from a source most people haven’t considered,” study co-author Peter Thorne, Ruran’s mentor, said in an ACAAI news release. “If you have allergies or asthma, you may want to think about cleaning your smartphone more often to minimize exposure to these allergens and asthma triggers,” said Thorne, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, in Iowa City. For the study, the researchers created phone models that simulated the size and surface of a real phone…  read on >  read on >

Telemedicine became widespread during the pandemic, and that may have shifted patient views about using technology as way to communicate with their doctors, a new study suggests. Certain groups, including Black patients and those with lower education levels, became especially more apt to use it. “Our findings suggest that more Americans are becoming comfortable with telehealth and using video technology,” said study author Dr. Shira Fischer, a physician scientist at RAND Corp., a nonprofit research organization. “This is important because there are concerns that lack of access to or willingness to use video telehealth may exacerbate disparities in the delivery of high-quality health care,” she said in an organization news release. In the study, data was collected on 1,600 adults who participated in the RAND American Life Panel, completing surveys in February 2019, May 2020, August 2020 and March 2021. Participants answered questions about their use of telehealth and their attitudes toward the technology. Willingness to use video telehealth increased overall from 51% in February 2019 to 62% in March 2021. That willingness grew from 42% to 67% among Black adults and from 30% to 56% among adults with less than a high school education. Lower trust of technology and lower rates of access to high-quality internet service may have been the reasons that some groups were less willing to engage with telehealth prior to…  read on >  read on >

Combining drugs with driving is a potentially deadly but all too common combination in the United States, according to a new report. University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers found that almost 9% of adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana use among drivers was more than 4%, while many adults also use both pot and other drugs in combination with alcohol. The most commonly reported drugs used while driving were marijuana and opioids, the study found. “We need to focus our efforts on drugged driving, in addition to drunk driving, because drugged driving causes such a high level of fatalities,” said study lead author Andrew Yockey. He’s a doctoral student in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services. With lawful marijuana use rising in the United States, there are concerns about road safety, the researchers said in a university news release. Keith King, director of the UC Center for Prevention Science, said, “There is serious concern as to how legalization will affect driving behaviors among adults.” King called for more research to evaluate the impact of legalization. The team also emphasized education at an early age and identifying culturally relevant prevention strategies. For the study, the researchers used sample data from the 2016 to 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The investigators found that men were significantly more likely than…  read on >  read on >