Author: Teenology 101

Teens with Developmental Delay are Teens Too

Guest Post by Dr. Emily Gallagher

At Seattle Children’s Hospital we have families coming from around  the Pacific Northwest for a wide array of illness, disorders, and needs. In the Craniofacial Center, children with disorders of the head and face receive ongoing care, often from birth through adolescence. These disorders are often related to birth defects or genetic syndromes. The Craniofacial Center houses a specific clinic for patients with a genetic disorder called “22q11.2-related disorder”. This is a common genetic syndrome caused by differences in the amount of DNA in this area, usually missing (deletion) or additional (duplication) genetic material. 22q is characterized by varied physical issues that may affect many different parts of the body (such as heart abnormalities, cleft palate, or speech disorders), as well as developmental delay.

In pediatrics, we often focus on the development of infants and young children with disability. However, as they age into the teen years, needs are sometimes missed. I asked a colleague for information on some of the needs she sees in her adolescent patients with developmental delay. Read full post »

Vitamin D and teen health

beachGuest Post by Dr. Raina Vachhani

What’s all the fuss about vitamin D?

The short answer is that our bodies are built to make vitamin D using sunlight, and for us folks living up north, that isn’t really happening during the winter.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that our bodies use to help us absorb the calcium we eat, which we need to help make strong bones. Without vitamin D, calcium levels can drop, causing long-term effects on the strength of bones. The teens and twenties are the most critical time to build strong, healthy bones in order to avoid having weak bones and a risk of bone fractures later in life.

There is a lot of exciting research going on to figure out what other roles vitamin D might play. Some scientists think that low vitamin D levels could be related to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, infections, and neurological diseases, though most of these links haven’t been proven yet. The reality is that most people have no symptoms to indicate to them (or their doctors) that their level of vitamin D is low. Read full post »

Should my teen daughter shave?

Guest Post: Dr. Laura Burkhart

How old should my daughter be before she starts shaving? It’s a question that many parents have, but hard to find answers too.

This can be a tough decision to make, but its good to have an open and honest conversation with your daughter. There really isn’t a specific age at which girls should start shaving. It is a personal decision dependent on your family’s cultural and personal beliefs. In our American society, girls can start going through puberty as young as 8 or 9. The normal increase in hormones causes the hair underarms and in the pubic region to grow longer and darker which can often lead to feeling self-conscious around peers. Read full post »

Home from college for the holidays

Guest Post: Laura Burkhart, MD

Boomerangs

Let’s walk through a common scenario of a college freshman coming home for break.

You are so excited that your teen is coming home for the long holiday weekend.  It has been several months since you dropped them off at college and you have a bursting schedule of exciting events and family get-togethers planned.  When your teen comes home, they head straight to their old room, dump off their laundry and then call old friends.  Before you know it they are heading out for the night without any consideration for the big dinner you planned.  You wonder, “do they even want to spend time with the family??!”

Chances are if you have a teen in college, you have experienced this.   College students are commonly referred to as “boomerangs”-coming in and out of the house, sometimes leaving no trace except dirty socks and dishes.  This can be very frustrating and confusing, but there a few things you can do to prepare for such transient homecomings.  So how can you make the most of the time your newly independent teen has at home? Read full post »

Transition After High School Post 4 – Clery Act

Guest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident”

When talking with your teen about making the transition to college, we often focus on the positive, as it is definitely an amazing life changing event.  You want your teen to successfully adapt in making more responsible choices, while remaining safe and protected inside the walls of a college campus.  However, there is a very important topic that often gets missed in that crucial time before they start classes.  That is the subject of campus crimes and security.   I am not writing this to send you running to lock your teen in their room, ensuring their safety by never letting them out and feeding them through the door!   This post is meant to open the dialogue between you and your teen about personal safety.

College campuses were once thought of as “Ivory Towers”, protected from the dangerous individuals and violent acts of the rest of the world.  It is the hope that every student has an affirmative college experience, but we know from numerous stories and statistics that is not always the case. So how can you find out about the safety of the college campuses your teen is looking at? Its actually easier then you think, but that was not always the case. It is important to respect the history and personal tragedy that allows us to access this information so readily today. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 3 – College Health Services

college studentGuest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

In the part of this series, I will go into a little further into the details of visiting a campus and what you need to have ready from a health standpoint. If you and your teen are still finding yourself stuck on where to even start looking to apply, you can refer back to the previous post.

Now that you and your teen have decided on what campuses to visit (great job by the way, that can be the toughest part!), it is time to discuss what is often the most exciting part for your teen…the tour. A campus tour is a great way to become familiar with the institution, not only for the physical elements, but also for the health resources offered. It is important for your teen to have a support system on campus of caring professionals that can offer assistance if needed. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 2 – University versus College

Guest Post: Laura Burkhart, MD

“There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”

As summer winds to an end, one of the most exciting times for a teen is figuring out what they are going to do after high school graduation. The last year in high school can be filled with both anticipation and anxiety, and as a parent it can be a difficult task to help them navigate the momentous next steps along a path filled with opportunity. College might not be right for all, but if you and your teen think it might be a good fit, you should know about all the options out there. First of all, take a deep breath…you and your teen will get through this! Here are a few tips to help you get started and make the big unknown of the college universe a little clearer.

There are more options now then the traditional 4 year college, and each one can have unique differences to help everyone obtain an education no matter their life situation or learning style. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 1 What are Our Options

A note from Dr. Evans: I often find myself discussing life plans with my patients. Some teens have no clue what to do after high school, others are set on going to medical school (eventually), some just want to work, and some think they may want to join the military. In this series, I’ve asked guest authors to talk a bit about some of the options available. This is not an all inclusive list at all and if readers have topics they’d like discussed, please add those ideas in the comments.

We’ll start with some general options in the first post, then go on to discuss more details about the different between university, college, and community college in the coming posts of this series.

Guest Author: Emily Winn – University of Washington School of Nursing

Transition after high school – What are our options? Read full post »

Safe Sun Exposure

beachSave Your Skin: Savvy Sunning

By: Guest Author Hannah Smith RN, BSN, CPN DNP-PNP student

Sunny days in Seattle are a treat! When the rays come out, so do we, looking for a bit of warmth while we can. It is easy for me to justify staying in the sun on my back porch, at Greenlake, or Golden Gardens as long as possible to soak up the rays. I am definitely guilty of being in the sun through the warmest park of the day, because as you know, it may be cloudy tomorrow!

Did you put a sunhat on your child or beach umbrella over them when they were younger? Strong work! Those physical barriers are very effective in preventing skin damage. Skin is delicate and vulnerable to UV rays.

Teens need to protect their skin as it’s the only skin they get for their entire life. Everything you do to reduce UV exposure can help to prevent a type of skin cancer called melanoma from developing later in life. That may seem like a long ways off to a teen, but melanoma is not just a cancer in older people, it can appear as early as your 20s. Melanoma is dangerous, and can spread to other parts of your body.

Besides cancer, excess sun exposure will also prematurely age skin with wrinkles and brown spots. The savvy sunning habits that you and your teen create now can help to save their skin in the future.

I don’t want parents or teens to be scared of the sun because it is a wonderful resource that this earth has. It can help lift your mood, synthesize vitamin D, and synchronize your biorhythms. As with most things, moderation is key. I just want parents and teens to learn how to enjoy the sunshine safely. Here are some tips:

Sunscreen Selection

  • Use a sunscreen that covers both UVA & UVB rays.
  • Use a SPF of at least 45.
  • Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out doors for better absorption.
  • Apply at least 1 oz. of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Even if it is waterproof sweating and touching your skin will rub it off.

UV Exposure

  • Use sunscreen year round on exposed skin. Even on cloudy days UV rays come through the clouds. Higher temperatures so not equal higher UV rays.
  • Check your local UV index at http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index

Lifestyle

  • Avoid the most intense sun between 10am-4pm by sitting in the shade, using a hat, or wearing a light over-up.
  • Buy some stylish sunglasses and use them!
  • Avoid tanning beds. Even ONE session increases your risk of melanoma by 20%.

Be educated, and go enjoy the sun!

Break Dancing and Seattle Youth

Break dancing Massive MonkeesWe’d like to highlight positive opportunities for teens so in this post, guest blogger Dr. Alok Patel writes about his experiences with the amazing break dancing crew, Massive Monkees.

Getting a teenager to focus is a daunting, nearly impossible task, for any professional. Smart phones, social media, and hormone-driven behaviors often corner the market for a high-schooler’s attention span. Nonetheless, the resurgence of a throwback dance-style, with a blend of mentorship, is turning heads in South Seattle. Teenagers, all over, are discovering themselves in breakdancing, or ‘breaking’ – the show stealing, acrobatic, immersive art, that can be seen anywhere from 80’s movies, to commercials, to music videos.

The rhythmic movements captivate adolescents and world-renowned bboy crew, the Massive Monkees, alongside Arts Corps, are parlaying the fascination into the nation’s first dance-based youth leadership program, right here in Seattle. Read full post »