Archive for November, 2009

Teens and Alcohol

Experimentation with alcohol and drugs during adolescence is common.  Unfortunately, teenagers often don’t see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow.  They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience.

Warning signs of teenage alcohol and drug abuse may include:

Physical: Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.

Emotional: personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.

Family: starting arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.

School: decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.

Social problems: new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

Some of the warning signs listed above can also be signs of other problems.  Parents may recognize signs of trouble and possible abuse of alcohol and other drugs with their teenager. If you have concerns you may want to consult a physician to rule out physical causes of the warning signs. This should often be followed or accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or mental health professional.

I had some friends in high school whom I never thought in a million years would drink.  It can be easy to hide for a while.  It’s when it starts getting out of control and ruining their life when it becomes a serious problem.  Just make sure you’re talking to your teen and trying to be aware of their lives and behaviors.

teens-drinking

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November 16, 2009 at 9:42 am 1 comment

Fetal Alcohol Sydrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome refers to growth, mental, and physical problems that may occur in a baby when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

Symptoms
A baby with fetal alcohol syndrome may have the following symptoms:
  • Poor growth while the baby is in the womb and after birth
  • Decreased muscle tone and poor coordination
  • Delayed development and significant functional problems in three or more major areas: thinking, speech, movement, or social skills (as expected for the baby’s age)
  • Heart defects such as ventricular septal defect (VSD) or atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Structural problems with the face, including:
    • Narrow, small eyes with large epicanthal folds
    • Small head
    • Small upper jaw
    • Smooth groove in upper lip
    • Smooth and thin upper lip
Tests & diagnosis

A physical exam of the baby may reveal a heart murmur or other heart problems. As the baby grows, there may be signs of delayed mental development. There also may be structural problems of the face and skeleton.

Tests include:

  • Blood alcohol level in pregnant women who show signs of being drunk (intoxicated)
  • Brain imaging studies (CT or MRI) shows abnormal brain development
  • Pregnancy ultrasound shows slowed growth of the fetus
Prevention

Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy prevents fetal alcohol syndrome. Counseling can help prevent recurrence in women who have already had a child with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Sexually active women who drink heavily should use birth control and control their drinking behaviors, or stop using alcohol before trying to conceive.

November 14, 2009 at 12:01 am 3 comments


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