Teen Health


Alameda County School for Teen Parents Faces Funding Uncertainty

One of the nurseries at Fruitvale Academy,, an education program for pregnant and parenting teens and their children. (Brittany Patterson/KQED)

An unusual sight at a high school: a nursery. But Fruitvale Academy is an education program for pregnant and parenting teens — their children are cared for on campus at a nursery like this.  (Brittany Patterson/KQED)

By Brittany Patterson

When Jennifer Martinez found out she was pregnant when she was 14, she says that the support systems in her life abruptly changed. She lost all of her friends, she couldn’t reach out to her family, and suddenly she felt alone.

She had run away from home and spent time in and out of jail. When she got pregnant, she was living with her boyfriend’s parents. Just a year after her son, Vincent, was born, Martinez learned she was pregnant again.

Choosing to have this second child, a daughter, was a turning point in her life, she said.

“As soon as I had my daughter, I finished my last jail time,” Martinez said. “I told my probation officer, ‘I promise I’m not going to come back here again.’” Continue reading

Recipe For Strong Teen Bones: Exercise, Calcium and Vitamin D

Exercise helps build strong bones for a lifetime, says one expert. (KG Sand Soccer/Flickr)

Exercise helps build strong bones for a lifetime, says one expert. (KG Sand Soccer/Flickr)

By Patti Neighmond, NPR

It’s really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.

But doctors say a lot of children aren’t getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.

“It’s the magic window of time when bone is built.”
“It’s the magic window of time when bone is built,” says Dr. Laura Tosi, an orthopedic surgeon who directs the pediatric bone health program at Children’s National Health system in Washington, D.C. And when it comes to bones, “bigger is definitely better,” she says. “The wider and thicker the bone, the harder it is to break or tear.”

Just about everybody knows that calcium and vitamin D are essential to build strong bones. But children and teenagers are all too often shunning the foods that would help them get enough calcium and vitamin D to build those bones.

Federal health officials recommend that children between the ages of 9 and 18 get 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day. That translates into four to five glasses of milk or the equivalent. According to Dr. Neville Golden, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, most teens are not drinking anywhere near that amount. Continue reading

5 Ways to Save Teen Athletes’ Lives


With high school sports starting up as summer winds down, new guidelines are designed to keep student athletes safe. (bedlamonbalticavenue/Flickr)

By Deborah Franklin, NPR

For all the benefits of exercise and teamwork to the heart and head, high school athletes still lead the nation in athletics-related deaths. And it doesn’t have to be that way, sports medicine specialists say.

Many student deaths from head and neck injuries, heat stroke, sudden heart trouble and exertion-related sickle cell crises can be prevented, according to a scrum of leading sports doctors, athletic trainers, research physiologists and high school administrators who have endorsed a detailed set of guidelines for keeping high school athletes safe.

Give student athletes several days to acclimatize at the start of every season.
“The idea was to create something that schools could almost use as a checklist,” says Douglas Casa, who helped shape the consensus guidelines published in the August issue of the Journal of Athletic Training. Casa, who led a similar effort to produce conditioning guidelines for college athletes in 2012, is a sports physiologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Some of the key recommendations for high schools follow.

1. Have a certified athletic trainer available during games and practices. Roughly a third of public high schools and many private ones don’t do that, Casa tells Shots, and it’s a problem during emergencies. “It’s unbelievable,” he says, “that some of the same schools that insist on having a school nurse on hand to handle emergencies from 8 to 2 don’t have a medical professional onsite to make key decisions after school when students are exerting themselves in the heat or under other extreme conditions.” Continue reading

Sex Information, Teens and Technology: YTHLive in San Francisco

A powerful way to reach teens with credible health information say conference organizers. (okalkavan/Flickr)

A powerful way to reach underserved teens with credible health information say conference organizers. (okalkavan/Flickr)

In the olden days, teens and young adults who wanted accurate information about contraception or sexually transmitted diseases would perhaps find a trusted adult or sneak a book or perhaps rely on information (misinformation?) from peers.

Not so much any more. Mobile apps and websites provide a range of options, and YTH.org (that’s for youth, tech, health) is the focal point.

Its mission: To advance youth health and wellness through technology.

YTH Live kicked off Sunday in San Francisco and runs through tomorrow. The conference convenes everyone from public health professionals to youth advocates to social entrepreneurs. KQED’s Stephanie Martin talked with YTH.org executive director Deb Levine about the conference.

Here’s their conversation, lightly edited: Continue reading