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May 21,


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Study: Smoke hurts teeth

Children whose parents smoke are more likely to develop dental cavities, according to a study by researchers at Strong Children's Research Center.

Pediatrician Andrew Aligne and his colleagues analyzed data from the third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which provided a nationally representative sample of 3,873 children. The children in the study had dental examinations and a blood test measuring their cotinine levels, an indication of whether someone is a smoker or is often subjected to second-hand smoke. The team found a correlation between cotinine levels and cavities.

"This study should serve as a sobering wake-up call to parents who still don't see the danger in smoking around their children," says Aligne. "We already know smoking isn't good for us, and here's another reason. This study indicates that second-hand smoke accounts for a significant proportion of cavities in children."

Children suffer with asthma

Many children who have asthma aren't using helpful medications or speaking regularly with health care providers about their symptoms, according to a study presented by pediatrician Jill Halterman of Children's Hospital at Strong.

Halterman says many children aren't benefiting from recent advancements and understanding and treating the disease and are instead "silently suffering at home."

"In order to manage a child's asthma well, parents need to regularly communicate with the child's health care provider," she says. "If asthma symptoms are not promptly and accurately reported, an adequate treatment plan can't be established or implemented."

Previously Halterman found that 74 percent of U.S. children with significant asthma aren't receiving recommended medications. In the new study of 168 children who experienced three or more asthma-related medical visits during the previous year, she found that only 47 percent of children with moderate to severe asthma used a preventive anti-inflammatory medication; fewer than half the children had regular contact with a health care provider.

High-risk youths sport tattoos

Youths with tattoos are much more likely than their peers to smoke cigarettes or marijuana, go on drinking binges, have premarital sex, get into serious fights, join gangs, skip school, and get poor grades, physicians from Children's Hospital at Strong report in a new study

"Of course, there is nothing about the actual tattoo that causes this kind of behavior," says pediatrician Timothy Roberts, who did the study. "Getting a tattoo is simply an act of having ink put underneath one's skin, and there's nothing about the ink that affects people's behavior. Rather, people who get tattoos tend to be involved in high-risk behaviors. Kids with tattoos are often the kids who get into trouble as adolescents."

The link was statistically significant even after researchers accounted for socioeconomic status and other differences between the children.

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