Preteens & Teens

The Risks of Energy Drinks

Ads for energy drinks are plastered on the walls of sporting events and on the jerseys of leading athletes. The beverage makers sponsor models, music events and videos games. Red Bull, the market’s leading drink, even has its own TV series and printed magazine. They claim to boost your immune system, enhance your performance, and help you stay up longer.

No wonder 30 to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults say they buy energy drinks. But are they safe for young people to drink?

“No,” says Stephanie Nguyen Lai, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine – often twice as much as coffee and eight times as much as a soda. They’re especially dangerous when mixed with alcohol.

“As a parent, it is important to talk with your adolescent, and explain the risks of these products,” Dr. Lai says. “Their health could be at stake.”

Hidden Caffeine in Energy Drinks Read More

What Teens Can Do About Acne


Acne: it’s caused stress before many a first date and sent teens scurrying to the drug store for the latest miracle potion. If your teen has acne, he or she is not alone.

“Approximately 85 percent of all teens have acne at some point,” says Amy E. Gilliam, M.D., a pediatric dermatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “Although there is no magic bullet or quick fix for teen acne, there are several effective treatment options that – with patience – can help clear up this skin condition.” Read More

Sports Injuries in Kids: What Parents Need to Know


 sports injuries in kids

Most parents know that an active child is a healthy child – but what about the inevitable injuries if they play sports? Sally Harris, M.D., MPH, a specialist in pediatric and adolescent sports medicine at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says the most common serious sports-related injury for young children (prior to puberty) is a broken bone, also called a fracture. Before reaching puberty, children’s flexible bones are their most vulnerable points as cartilage is still filling in and the ends of the bones are weaker and softer to allow for growth. See Dr. Harris’s answers to common questions from parents about fractures and other sports injuries in kids. Read More

Tips for Teens: Heading to College

Going to college can be an exciting and stressful time for teens. In college, they’ll face many new responsibilities along with sudden independence. They may have a roommate for the first time in their lives, and lose privacy they value. They can study all night – or party all night – without anyone suggesting they slow down.

Help your teen prepare. Print these tips and tuck them in your teen’s suitcase – or email this blog post – to share gentle reminders on how to keep college life in balance.

Six  Life-Balance Tips for College Students Read More

Tips to Help Families Manage Digital Distraction

Family Digitally Distracted at Breakfast

While cell phones, iPads and computers provide great ways to stay connected and informed, they can also limit quality time between teens and parents. Nancy L. Brown, Ph.D., who leads the Adolescent Interest Group for PAMF’s teen and preteen websites, and Surya Brown-Moffitt, Brown’s daughter and a high school student writer, offer these tips for parents to manage the digital distractions in their families’ lives.

Parents need to model the behavior they want their teens to follow. So make a conscious choice about when to be on the phone or a laptop at home. This way you won’t miss opportunities to connect with your child and you’ll also demonstrate appropriate media use. Talk to your teen about the trade-offs: Time on the phone, tablet or computer limits the time he or she has for family and friends, exercise, homework and hobbies. Also, set limits upfront on the time you’ll both spend using technology to ensure you don’t get digitally distracted.

Think of this as an opportunity to come together as a family and build and model relationships that are thoughtful and caring. You’ll also be teaching your teen that getting the most out of technology also means learning when to turn it off. Read More

Tips for Teens on ‘Graduating’ to Adult Primary Care

Many changes await you as you enter your late teen years. One of these changes is your transition from a pediatrician to an adult primary care doctor. Once you turn 18, you will no longer be seeing a pediatrician, so it’s a good idea to start looking for a primary care doctor before then. Here are some tips to help make that transition easier.

Tell Your Doctor If You’re Moving

If you are going away to college or moving to another city, tell your doctor. If you’re going away to college, give your doctor your school’s health care information. Ask your parents to help you make an information sheet that includes the contact information for your doctor, orthodontist and dentist. Also include on this sheet:

  • Insurance company, policy number and phone number
  • Date of last tetanus shot
  • Name and dosage of daily medications
  • Any allergies to medications
  • When you need your teeth cleaned again (usually every six months)
  • Date of last physical exam
  • Emergency contact information for family and/or friends

Get Help Transitioning

Ask your doctor or another health care professional to help with your transition. Medical centers often offer such appointments.

Outline the different transitional steps, and then assign dates to these steps. (For example, plan on learning how to call in to make an appointment yourself by a specific date, or have your doctor quiz you on your health care insurance on a specified date.) If you overshoot these dates, don’t worry. It’s a learning process.

After The Transition

  • Set an alarm reminding you when to take daily medicines
  • Carry a copy or list of your medications and your doctor’s business card in your wallet with emergency contact information
  • Keep an up-to-date calendar with all appointments
  • Enter your clinic’s number into your cell phone

More detailed information on transitioning from a pediatrician to adult primary care provider is available on PAMF’s Teen Site.