Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Children’s Research Institute’

Cigarettes: Gateway to Marijuana and Then More Dangerous Drugs?

May 5, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Teen smokers who rationalize their use of cigarettes by saying, “At least, I’m not doing drugs,” may not always be able to use that line.

New research to be presented Sunday, May 5, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC, supports the theory that cigarettes are a gateway drug to marijuana.

“Contrary to what we would expect, we also found that students who smoked both tobacco and marijuana were more likely to smoke more tobacco than those who smoked only tobacco,” said study author Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, an investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

Dr. Moreno and her colleagues randomly selected incoming college students from two universities — one in the Northwest and one in the Midwest — to participate in the longitudinal study. Students were interviewed prior to entering college and again at the end of their freshman year regarding their attitudes, intentions and experiences with substances.

Specifically, students were asked if they had used tobacco or marijuana ever in their lives and in the past 28 days. Researchers also assessed the quantity and frequency of marijuana and tobacco use in the past 28 days.

Results showed that prior to entering college, 33 percent of the 315 participants reported lifetime tobacco use, and 43 percent of lifetime users were current users. In addition, tobacco users were more likely to have used marijuana than those who did not use tobacco.

By the end of their freshman year, 66 percent of participants who reported tobacco use prior to entering college remained current users with an average of 34 tobacco episodes per month. Of these, 53 percent reported concurrent marijuana use. Overall, users of both substances averaged significantly more tobacco episodes per month than current users of tobacco only (42 vs. 24).

“These findings are significant because in the past year we have seen legislation passed that legalizes marijuana in two states,” Dr. Moreno said. “While the impact of these laws on marijuana use is a critical issue, our findings suggest that we should also consider whether increased marijuana use will impact tobacco use among older adolescents.”

Future work should involve designing educational campaigns highlighting the increased risks of using these substances together, Dr. Moreno concluded.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
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Study: Better TV might improve kids’ behavior

February 18, 2013

SEATTLE (AP) — Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers’ behavior, even without getting them to watch less, a study found.

The results were modest and faded over time, but may hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior, the study authors and other doctors said.

“It’s not just about turning off the television. It’s about changing the channel. What children watch is as important as how much they watch,” said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP | Associated Press

The research was to be published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 565 Seattle parents, who periodically filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child’s behavior.

Half were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5-year-old kids to watch shows like “Sesame Street” and “Dora the Explorer” rather than more violent programs like “Power Rangers.” The results were compared with kids whose parents who got advice on healthy eating instead.

At six months, children in both groups showed improved behavior, but there was a little bit more improvement in the group that was coached on their TV watching.

By one year, there was no meaningful difference between the two groups overall. Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit.

“That’s important because they are at the greatest risk, both for being perpetrators of aggression in real life, but also being victims of aggression,” Christakis said.

The study has some flaws. The parents weren’t told the purpose of the study, but the authors concede they probably figured it out and that might have affected the results.

Before the study, the children averaged about 1½ hours of TV, video and computer game watching a day, with violent content making up about a quarter of that time. By the end of the study, that increased by up to 10 minutes. Those in the TV coaching group increased their time with positive shows; the healthy eating group watched more violent TV.

Nancy Jensen, who took part with her now 6-year-old daughter, said the study was a wake-up call.

“I didn’t realize how much Elizabeth was watching and how much she was watching on her own,” she said.

Jensen said her daughter’s behavior improved after making changes, and she continues to control what Elizabeth and her 2-year-old brother, Joe, watch. She also decided to replace most of Elizabeth’s TV time with games, art and outdoor fun.

During a recent visit to their Seattle home, the children seemed more interested in playing with blocks and running around outside than watching TV.

Another researcher who was not involved in this study but also focuses his work on kids and television commended Christakis for taking a look at the influence of positive TV programs, instead of focusing on the impact of violent TV.

“I think it’s fabulous that people are looking on the positive side. Because no one’s going to stop watching TV, we have to have viable alternatives for kids,” said Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston.