As 2010 comes to a close, Akron Children’s Hospital has compiled a list of 10 kids’ health issues to watch for next year. Of course, these aren’t the only important issues affecting children’s health, but in the midst of many, these are notable.
- Obesity-related health problems: Obese teens are 16 times more likely to become severely obese in adulthood compared with those who are normal weight or overweight. In addition, being overweight is associated with a number of health problems, such as early heart attacks and strokes, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes. Overweight children are also frequently teased and may suffer from depression and low self-esteem. It’s important for parents to do all they can to help kids reach and maintain a healthy weight. Get tips from Dr. Troy Smurawa, a sports medicine specialist at Akron Children’s, in the video, “Activity and obesity.”
- Supporting LGBT kids: Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) youths have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts, especially if they’re rejected by their families. A 2008 study indicates that parental acceptance of their child’s sexual orientation – or even a neutral reaction – could go a long way toward lessening these risks. Dr. James Fitzgibbon, director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine, gives advice to parents on how to accept and support their LGBT teen in the video, “Parenting a gay or lesbian teen.”
*Editor’s Note: Akron Children’s Hospital is now seeing patients in its new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine: http://bit.ly/2Yk4E2U
- Cyberbullying: Bullying is an old problem that remains difficult to bring under control, in part because technology offers new ways for kids to pick on one another. Despite the torment, some kids don’t tell their parents about cyberbullying because they’re afraid they’ll lose their online privileges. Hear what pediatric psychologist Georgette Constantinou, PhD, has to say in the audio podcast, “Recognizing and preventing cyberbullying.”
- Teens & sexting: It’s easy for teens to get caught up in the idea of capturing – and sharing – their exploits, but it can be hard for them to grasp the permanent consequences of their tech interactions. It’s up to parents to explain to their kids, early and often, that once an image or message is sent, it’s no longer in their control and cannot be taken back.
- Fighting nature deficit disorder: The majority of today’s kids spend a lot of time parked on the couch watching TV or glued to a computer, cell phone or gaming system. Mix this with parental fear of “stranger danger” and kids spend less time exploring and enjoying the outdoors. Dr. Troy Smurawa, a sports medicine specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital, shares his tips on getting kids active in the video, “Keeping kids fit in the winter.”
- Rise of mental health diagnoses in younger kids: A recent study found that the rate of antipsychotic medications given to kids ages 2-5 years doubled between 1999 and 2007. While the number of younger kids affected still is very small, the growing trend alarms mental health experts.
- Understanding health care reform: Millions of U.S. kids, mostly from low-income and working-class families, have no or insufficient health coverage. It’s important for parents to understand health care reform legislation, especially since it has benefits for kids and young adults.
- Epigenetics – How grandma’s health affects your child: Medical experts often tout the importance of the medical family history in the diagnosis of many diseases. Yet the idea that environmental factors, such as diet, stress, lifestyle choices and behaviors, can change the health not only of the people who are exposed to them, but also the health of their descendents, is something we’ll hear more about in the future.
- What electronic medical records (EMRs) mean for health care: In this increasingly paper-free, era, medical records have lagged behind. But that’s changing. The government has established rules and financial incentives to spur adoption of EMRs, which are expected to reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors, and improve the quality of patient care.
- Acting locally to help globally: Major disasters around the world not only generate a lot of news coverage, they also move people to lend a helping hand. Away from the limelight, however, are countless, smaller everyday health crises that also need attention. Helping others lets parents teach kids important lessons about the value of sharing and sacrifice.