Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

e-cigarettes and commercials

e-cigaretteRecently, I had a rare opportunity to watch cable TV in the evening. As I sunk into the sofa I heard something that probably hasn’t been heard on TV in decades: “as a cigarette smoker, I’m always looking for the best puff.” I looked up and saw a healthy appearing young man describe the benefits of a new cigarette. At this point I was speechless! This was the first of two different commercials for vaporized cigarettes or e-cigarettes, that I saw over the course of the evening. The second featured attractive scientists in a lab creating a cigarette with the newest technology that gave “efficient” puffs. Unlike the pharmaceutical commercials that I’m now accustomed to hearing, neither mentioned any potential dangers or side effects of nicotine. Neither really mentioned the word nicotine at all. Read full post »

Measles outbreaks, amusement parks, and vaccinations

Flu or allergy shot. This image is available exclusively on Istock.I took a bit of a break from blogging to expand my family over the holiday season. Returning from maternity leave this week, one of the first headlines I noticed in my email inbox was regarding the measles outbreak that is currently in progress at a major theme park in California. As a pediatrician and now mother of two, I take my children to venues geared toward fun on a regular basis. There are playdates, birthday parties, museums, and many trips to the airport to fly to see family. My older daughter is more comfortable at the airport than at preschool! Considering whether or not they could be infected with a life threatening illness is not typically at the top of my worry list, and I would argue that no parent should have to worry about disease when taking their children to have a fun time. Read full post »

Tips for surviving the holidays with teens

Family holiday mealHolidays mean vacation: days where teens are out of school with little to occupy their time and potential for comments of feeling bored. The holiday seasons between Fall and Winter encompass a wide range of cultural and religious themes from Eid, to Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, Christmas to Kwanza. What all of these holidays share is the importance of family. However, a normal part of adolescent development is pulling away from parents and traditional family values. This time of year, parents may hear more requests for gifts than for special traditions at family gatherings. Cooking, cleaning, and anticipating family conflict can cause a lot of pressure for parents and teens.  So how can parents continue to make fond memories and include all household members?

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Teens and loss of a friend or loved one

Me and My DadAs my family welcomes our new daughter and the holiday season starts, I’ve reflected on the death of my Dad in 2013. Knowing that he isn’t present to hold his grandchild or share in our excitement is painful. Even though I grieved for my Dad when he passed away, the loss still hits me from time to time.  Thinking of my own loss, I am reminded of many of the teens I’ve worked with in clinical practice who are also facing the loss of a friend or loved one. Death is a natural part of life and eventually everyone will lose someone they care about, but this doesn’t make the loss any easier to handle. Read full post »

Video games and teens: harmful or helpful?

computerkidThe question of whether video games lead to risky behaviors is one that has been asked by parents, educators, psychologists, and most of the other adults who are routinely around teens. Some video games portray acts of violence (such as stealing cars, driving recklessly, or killing ) while others put the teen in the role of a superhero (such a those based on comic book characters). Is there a difference in how a teen may act in their regular life, while not playing a game, if video games are a hobby? Read full post »

Teens and the use of human growth hormone

girls basketballIn our society we are constantly bombarded with images displaying a narrow view of what it means to be attractive, handsome, or beautiful. Adolescents are just as susceptible to feeling like they need to look a certain way as adults are. Unfortunately, this push to have a certain physique can lead to some pretty dangerous behaviors. Teens may skip meals, take diet pills, exercise excessively, vomit after eating, or take laxatives in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Another dangerous trend is increasing: the use human growth hormone in an effort to build muscle. Read full post »

What is a LARC?

IUDWith nearly half of teens initiating sexual activity by the time they graduate from high school, discussing pregnancy prevention is extremely important. Abstinence is the only way to 100% guarantee that a person will not become pregnant or obtain a sexually transmitted infection, but if a teen does become sexually active, health care providers can counsel them on the options that are most effective at preventing unwanted consequences. In this post we’ll focus on pregnancy prevention.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided a policy statement recommending long acting reversible contraception (LARCs) for adolescent females. LARCs come in two forms: an implantable rod that contains a hormone and is placed in the arm or an intrauterine device (IUD). There are 3 different IUDs available for teens. One contains copper and lasts for 10 years, 2 others contain a hormone and last from 3 to 5 years. We’ve posted about LARCs before and have described their safety and benefits, but a recent study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine that showcased amazing results when teens were provided with accurate information about LARCs and chose them as a form of birth control. Read full post »

Teens and stress: signs, symptoms, and relaxation techniques

angryteenIt’s the Fall and families are starting to get back into the routine of balancing school, work, extracurricular activities, and family time. When I think back to my own high school years, I’m amazed at the amount of tasks I had to juggle! Everything from household chores, to homework; I was a musician so had practices and performances in addition to a part time job. While most teens are not under the stress of supporting a household, their daily agendas can be just as jam packed as an adult’s. The difference is that teens are still developing their coping strategies for how to manage stress. Read full post »

Pedestrian Safety

FriendshipAs the summer comes to an end, kids are going to be heading back to school. This means all of the drivers near school zones will see an increase in pedestrian traffic in the mornings and afternoons. As drivers, we’re reminded to slow down by signs in the school zone that mark the speed limit at 20 mph, but pedestrians may not always be aware of how to stay safe with the morning rush hour traffic. In this post, we received tips and advice on pedestrian safety from Dr. Alex Quistberg with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Read full post »

Addressing Traumatic Events in the Media

family watching tvOver the past 2 weeks, multiple events have been receiving media coverage. These range from the death of a beloved celebrity to the shooting of an unarmed African American young man in Missouri; reaching as close as the death of a shooting instructor by a very young student to as far as the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  These events often stir up strong emotions as well as strong opinions amongst colleagues and friends. Teens are using social media on a regular basis and are likely well aware of the trending news stories. As parents, how do we address these events with our children? Some of the topics may hit close to home and others may seem like they are happening a world away, but all of them can lead to conversations and provide opportunities for reflection and learning. Read full post »