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ABC’s Private Practice Takes On Teen Pregnancy

Last night, ABC’s Private Practice took on the very challenging issue of teenage pregnancy in a story arc that began with last week’s show when 15 year old Maya announced to Addison that she was pregnant. The show well depicts the shock, the emotion and the difficulty of handling the pro-choice/pro-life discussion when a teenager is at the center of the discussion.  It was a raw episode at times and in the end we are left with a 15 year old opting to keep her pregnancy.  It’s tempting to criticize the writers for not focusing enough on Maya but, in truth, the show was more realistic than you may realize.

In the episode, Maya’s mom, Naomi, basically freaks out from the start. This pro-life mom first storms out of the room then tries to force an abortion onto her daughter. When that doesn’t work, she shows Maya a woman in labor only to have Maya entranced by the sight of a baby and determined to keep the pregnancy even more. The show concludes with Naomi leaving the building not talking to anyone, in tears. True to life? You bet. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*

Teens, Sleep, Depression And Suicide

According to a study by researchers at Columbia University, teens whose parents let them go to bed past midnight were 24 percent more likely to be depressed and 20 percent more likely to have contemplated suicide than peers whose parents set bedtimes at or before 10 p.m.

The results were reported in the journal Sleep, and suggest earlier bedtimes may be protective because they increase the likelihood of getting enough sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about 4,400 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 commit suicide each year, making it the third-most common cause of death in the age group. This is also to be the group getting the least amount of sleep, which suggests a pretty logical correlation between suicide and lack of sleep.

Data from this study comes from 15,659 U.S. students, who were in grades seven to 12 between 1994 and 1996, and their parents. Seven percent of the teens were found to have depression and 13 percent said they seriously contemplated suicide during the preceding 12 months. The association was stronger for girls and older children. Read more »

This post, Teens, Sleep, Depression And Suicide, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

Teen Girls And The “How I Look Journal”

The How I Look Journal was designed for middle school girls in 2007 (revised in 2009), and has been used primarily in group settings, although girls can use it by themselves. Counselors and therapists tend to use the topics as a basis for discussions and teachers prefer using the journal in lesson formats. There is also a companion journal (2009) for mothers called “How I Look at my Daughter, Her World, and Her Future.”

Given I had the week off I decided to review the copies I was sent and am delighted to say that my teenage daughters and I thought the journals are a great idea. The journal prompts help girls identify and celebrate their inner strengths and attributes, manage stress, accept their bodies and dream!

I found myself thinking that the self-talk section was very important as parents cannot hear what teens are saying to themselves in their own heads. We would like to believe that our kids are affirming their healthy and positive decisions and characteristics, but the reality may be that they are using “bully talk” to themselves, saying things like “I am dumb, ugly inconsiderate, mean …” These negative statements undermine their self-confidence, but are difficult to change, especially if they are reinforced by comments parents (inadvertently) make when annoyed.. Read more »

This post, Teen Girls And The “How I Look Journal”, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

Half Of Teens Contract A Sexually Transmitted Disease Within 2 Years Of First Having Sex

This is a very scary reality. A recent study from the Indiana University School of Medicine suggests that half of young urban women will get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) shortly after sexual debut, while screening typically begins years later.

Researchers conducting the eight -year study found that by age 15, 25 percent of the adolescents in the study had acquired an STI, half within two years, and most often Chlamydia. The results also reflect a high repeat infection rate, with 25 percent of the teens getting at least one reinfection or other STI within 4 to 6 months.

The results, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine call for health practitioners to inquire about sexual activity and screen teens, preferably every 3 to 4 months.

This post, Half Of Teens Contract A Sexually Transmitted Disease Within 2 Years Of First Having Sex, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

How To Reduce Teen Drug Use: Dinner With Parents

I know I have said this before, but now there is more research to back it up. A recent report on the results from the “back-to-school” survey (September 2009) done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports a decade of research finding that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs.

Bottom line – compared to teens who have family dinners 5+ times a week, those who do not are twice as likely to use tobacco and marijuana and 1.5 times likelier to use alcohol. They also get significantly better grades and report that it is easier to talk to their parents. Read more »

This post, How To Reduce Teen Drug Use: Dinner With Parents, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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