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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt's Blog

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on StudyFinds.

With kids finally starting to get back outside to play and join team sports again, a new study may give parents new worries about signing their children up for things like football or soccer. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine say head impacts aren’t just a concern in the NFL, they can be just as serious for youngsters too. Their findings reveal even non-serious head impacts can change a child’s brain for years to come.

Brain scans reveal microscopic abnormalities among youth football players, with the cumulative effect potentially leading to harm after just one season. Previous studies have led to scientists calling for youth soccer programs to ban heading, or hitting the ball with your skull. For football programs, these findings have led to stricter enforcement of concussion protocols.

“Although we need more studies to fully understand what the measured changes mean, from a public health perspective, it is motivation to further reduce head impact drills used during practice in youth football,” said lead author Dr. Jillian Urban in a university release.

Study authors based their recommendations on 3D images of the brain’s white matter, which controls learning and coordination. The team identified “abnormal voxels” in brain scans of several young football players. These changes were absent in their peers playing non-contact sports like swimming and tennis.

The 47 football players, all under 19 years old, played the sport for a variety of teams for two or more consecutive years between 2012 and 2017. All wore football helmets fitted with a special sensor that records head impacts during both practice and actual games. In just one season, youth football players sustained between 26 and 1,003 head impacts. High school players took between 129 and 1,258 hits to the helmet.

Dr. Urban says, fortunately, most of these impacts don’t result in a concussion. In fact, most non-concussive impacts do not produce any acute signs or symptoms of a concussion — a blow that shakes the brain inside the skull. However, a closer analysis of 19 of these players identified changes to their brains after taking minor hits to the head.

Study authors say the amount of head impact exposure an athlete experiences, particularly in training, connects with the amount of change in their neuro-imaging results. Dr. Urban and her colleagues are now backing efforts to reduce the frequency of head contact in youth sports. They believe it will protect participants from brain abnormalities that can develop in as little as one season.

Source: StudyFinds

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

The suicide attempt rate has risen by as much as half among teenage girls during the coronavirus pandemic, a new government study shows.

Emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls between the ages of 12 and 17 increased by 26% during summer 2020 and by 50% during winter 2021, compared with the same periods in 2019, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. However, ER trips related to suspected suicide attempts among boys of the same age and young adults aged 18 to 25 remained stable during the pandemic.

"The findings from this study suggest more severe distress among young females than has been identified in previous reports during the pandemic, reinforcing the need for increased attention to, and prevention for, this population," concluded the report published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Self-reported suicide attempts are consistently higher among teen girls than boys, and research prior to the pandemic indicated that girls had higher and increasing rates of emergency department visits related to suicide attempts than boys, the CDC scientists noted.

Young girls might have been more affected by the pandemic due to lockdowns that broke their connectedness to schools, teachers, and friends, the study speculated.

The researchers noted a 31% increase in the proportion of mental health-related emergency department visits that occurred among teenagers in 2020, compared with the year before.

At the same time, there's been no significant increase in suicide deaths among teenage girls during the pandemic.

Source: HealthDay

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

When it comes to teens, one risky driving behavior may beget other risky behaviors on the road: New research finds that those who use cellphones while behind the wheel are more likely to engage in other types of risky driving.

"This study found that frequent cellphone use while driving was only one indicator of a more general pattern of risky driving practices associated with prior crashes in young drivers," said study author Elizabeth Walshe, a research scientist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

"Assessment of personality traits, such as impulsivity and sensation-seeking, may be helpful to identify drivers most at risk in order to provide more targeted interventions promoting safe driving," Walshe said in a hospital news release.

The findings suggest that efforts to promote safe driving in teens and young adults should address all types of risky driving associated with impulsivity, the researchers said.

Their study included 384 young drivers (ages 18-24) from across the United States who completed an online survey that assessed their risky driving practices, as well as their history of crashes and impulse-related personality traits.

About 44% of the drivers said they'd been in at least one crash, and 73% reported cellphone use while driving.

Those who used cellphones while behind the wheel were more likely to report other risky driving behaviors such as speeding, aggressive passing, and running red lights.

While cellphone use while driving was not uniquely associated with crashes, it was one of several risky activities related to crashes, according to the study published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Source: HealthDay