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Pediatrician to parents: Treat conversations about tattoos, piercings like ‘the sex talk’

An Atlanta pediatrician says conversations about tattoos and piercings should be taken seriously and urges parents to consider treating the discussions like “the sex talk.”

>> Read more trending news 

Dr. Cora Breuner, an adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital, and Dr. David Levine, a general pediatrician and professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, published a study Monday about health risks of tattooing and piercing in adolescents and young adults, a group that is showing an increasing interest in the body modifications, Breuner said. 

Some of the consequences include potential for keloids and infections such as hepatitis and tetanus and long-term regret or discomfort revealing tattoos in professional settings.

“Adolescents may overestimate the effectiveness of tattoo removal when having one placed and should be instructed that tattoo placement is permanent, and it is expensive and sometimes difficult to remove them,” the report reads.

Breuner told CNN she went with her daughter to get her navel pierced on her 18th birthday and she held the teenager’s hand while the piercer did his work. 

“I did my usual Dr. Mom thing and found out the person doing it had been a surgical tech before he decided to do piercings, and I watched him,” Breuner said. “I’m not saying everybody should do that, but at least for me, my sense of this whole world is that it’s changing right in front of us, and we can either have our eyes open and be supportive and help our children make informed decisions when they’re young adults, or ignore it and hope it goes away.”

Levine said conversations about tattoos and piercings are serious and important. 

“The big thing is that parents really should bring this up, to talk with their children intentionally, because the teenagers are likely thinking, ‘My parents will kill me, so I either have to hide (the tattoo or piercing), or I’ll just actually abide by my parents’ rules and get it when I’m 18.’

“Even then, 18-year-olds are still fairly impulsive. It still would be good for them to have had a discussion with their parents ...

“It’s very similar when we talk to parents about the time to do the sex talk is at age 11, before they actually need it ... Even if it's not right at that moment, it will open up the conversation and keep the communication open on these issues as kids negotiate adolescence,” he told CNN.

“It’s really our mission and our job to promote safety and healthy living for our children as our children go into adulthood,” Breuner told CNN.

Levine’s advice on when to get your child’s earlobes pierced? Wait until the child says he or she wants it.

“My biggest advice to the parents, unless this is a cultural issue where everybody in the culture gets their kids’ ears pierced in early childhood, I’d like the kid to actually want it,” he said.

Read more at American Academy of Pediatrics and CNN.

Is light drinking while pregnant really dangerous?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. say they refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

» RELATED: Do you drink too much? 

But new findings published this week in the journal BMJ Open sought to answer whether or not research fully supports the notion that even one light drink is truly dangerous for pregnant women.

>> Read more trending news

After assessing all of the research published between 1950 and July 2016, the researchers looked closely at the studies involving drinking up to 32 grams of alcohol -- equivalent to approximately two glasses of wine or two pints of beer-- but only 24 studies met the criteria for review. 

» RELATED: WATCH: Here’s the scary reason some people turn red when they drink alcohol

“The distinction between light drinking and abstinence is indeed the point of most tension and confusion for health professionals and pregnant women,” Luisa Zuccolo, a health epidemiologist at the University of Bristol and the study’s lead author, told CNN.

“We were surprised that this very important topic was not researched as widely as expected.”

» RELATED: Is alcohol really good for your heart?

But just because the evidence for the possible dangers of light drinking during pregnancy is lacking doesn’t mean there are no risks at all, according to Janet Williams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health San Antonio.

“Why not give the child the chance not to have this potential limitation or health risk in their life? There are so many other factors one can worry about, so how about one less concern? There are all sorts of non-risk-based beverages or ways to relax or express one's emotions that do not confer fetal or lifelong effects,” she said.

Read more from CNN.

Still, Zuccolo and her co-authors concluded that further studies are needed to better understand alcohol’s effects on pregnant women and their unborn child.

Read the full analysis from Zuccolo and her team at bmjopen.bmj.com.

But for now, the resounding answer from experts around the globe for pregnant women asking if that one light drink is safe: No.

Research shows that alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass through the umbilical cord and reach the baby, causing a variety of problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, abnormal facial features, learning disabilities and more.

More about alcohol’s effects on pregnant women and the unborn baby at CDC.gov.

Atlanta's 'third world' HIV epidemic isn't getting any better, CDC says

Black gay men are contracting HIV in Atlanta in epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated in 2016 that one in two black men would contract the disease.

>> Read more trending news

Christian Dacus is a youth HIV policy advisor with Georgia Equality. He said personally, the spike in the number of HIV cases for gay black men in Atlanta is not surprising to him because of the stigma.

“It's been spun in such a negative way that HIV is a punishment for your sins,” Dacus said.

Dacus cited non-acceptance from religion and family, and living a life of hiding a secret as the reason why -- despite education and advocacy efforts among gay black men in Atlanta -- numbers are not declining.

“When you're hiding something, you're less prone to go out be more careful, if you will,” Dacus said.

And though condoms are freely handed out in some nightlife venues, Dacus said for those who hide that area of their life, condoms simply don’t come into play.

Even though condoms can protect from HIV, STDs and STIs, “Condoms are used to being used as a contraceptive, as a birth control. When you don't factor in a pregnancy, you don't feel the need to use a condom,” Dacus said.

Along with condoms, Dacus said with medical advances like the PREP pill taken daily, a person can prevent HIV infection. 

“It may prevent you from contracting HIV, but there are a slew of other STIs you don't want, so I think condom usage is still something to be enforced,” Dacus stated.

A May report by WSB-TV cited research that called Atlanta’s HIV frequency an epidemic and compared the city to third-world African countries.

“Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University's Center for AIDS Research, said at the time. “We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours. This is not Africa, we have resources.”

>> WSB-TV INVESTIGATES: Atlanta's HIV 'epidemic' compared to third world African countries

People are urged to get screened for HIV every six months if they’re sexually active or at least once a year.

Popular in high school? You may be miserable as an adult, study says

Were you the cool kid in high school? Adolescent popularity may take a toll on your mental health later on, according to a new study

» RELATED: Study: White teachers less likely to see black students as gifted

A group of researchers from the University of Virginia recently conducted a study, which was published in Child Development, to determine how teenage relationships can affect adulthood over time. 

To do so, they examined 169 racially and socioeconomically diverse individuals over a 10-year period starting at age 15. They assessed their mental health by surveying them annually on their friendships, anxiety, social acceptance and symptoms of depression. They also checked in with participants’ close friends and peers to measure quality of popularity and friendship. 

>> Read more trending news

They defined popularity as the number of peers in the teen’s grade who ranked them as someone they'd hang out with. And high-quality friendships were defined as close friendships that had a degree of attachment and intimate exchanges.

After analyzing the results, scientists found that those who had close-knit relationships at age 15 had a better overall well-being at age 25. Those individuals reported lower social anxiety, increased self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, those who were popular in school reported higher levels of social anxiety at age 25.

»RELATED: Study: Instagram spots depression better than general

"Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience," Joseph Allen, lead researcher, said in a statement. "Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later.” 

»RELATED: Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

While scientists noted that their study was relatively small and did not factor in an individual’s personal characteristics, they believe their findings reveal important information about the significance of fostering relationships.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

“As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority,” Allen said.

Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

Mobile users in the U.S. searching for “depression” in Google may notice a new test option that tells them whether or not they’re really experiencing clinical depression.

>> Read more trending news

The new “check if you’re clinically depressed” feature, Google announced in a news release Wednesday, is a private clinically validated screening questionnaire called PHQ-9.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

The test aims to help determine a person’s depression and his or her need for an in-person medical evaluation.

While the PHQ-9 is not meant to be a singular tool for diagnosis, it can be someone’s first step, Mary Giliberti, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, wrote in the news release.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.

» RELATED: Study: Vegetarians twice as likely to suffer depression

And it affects more than 15 million American adults (approximately 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population) each year.

» RELATED: Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

People experiencing symptoms of clinical depression usually delay treatment for 6 to 8 years after the onset of symptoms.

» RELATED: Is it safe to take ketamine for severe depression?

“We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life,” Giliberti wrote.

Users can find the feature inside the Knowledge Panel, a section that pops up at the top of Google search results and includes key facts, photos and more for any given subject.

Read the full news release from Google.

Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

Do you work at night? It may be healthier to work while the sun is up, because a new study has found a link between night shifts and breast cancer.

»RELATED: Hair dyes and chemical relaxers linked to breast cancer 

A group of researchers from Harvard University conducted an experiment, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, to determine how levels of light can impact the disease. 

To do so, they examined 110,000 women and data from nighttime satellite images of each participant’s residential address. They also factored in night shift work.

>> Read more trending news

Scientists found that women exposed to the highest levels of outdoor light at night had an estimated 14 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those exposed to lower levels. 

They also saw a stronger link among women who work at night. 

“In our modern industrialized society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during nighttime hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” lead author Peter James said in a statement.

»RELATED: Study: Daily glass of wine or beer can increase breast cancer risk 

Why is that?

Light affects melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and plays a role in reducing tumor growth. However, exposure to artificial light lowers melatonin levels, preventing it from operating at its full ability. 

Researchers noted that the association between outdoor light at night and breast cancer was only prevalent among premenopausal women and current or past smokers.

They also acknowledged that more research needs to be done to clarify their results and methods. 

»RELATED: Study: Cancer partly caused by bad luck

New treatment could be the end of peanut allergy, study says

Allergic to peanuts? There could be new treatment that would eliminate that allergy for up to four years, according to recent research.

»RELATED: Giving peanut-based foods to babies early prevents allergies 

Scientists from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, to determine how probiotics could keep peanut allergies at bay in the long term.

To do so, they combined a bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is known to calm the immune system and reduce allergic reactions, with a peanut protein in increasing amounts for a process known as peanut oral immunotherapy. The mix was designed to alter the way the immune system reacts to peanuts. 

>> Read more trending news

They then tested it on a group of children, giving some the probiotic and others a placebo once daily for 18 months. 

After analyzing the results, they found that 80 percent of those given the probiotic saw no signs of the allergy after four years, and 70 percent passed an exam that determined that their peanut tolerance was long-term. 

“It would seem that children who have benefited from the probiotic peanut therapy are able to change the way that they live and not have to really worry about peanuts anymore,” Mimi Prang, lead researcher, told the journal. “That’s what’s exciting.” 

Researchers did note, however, that their experiment was limited as it only included a small group. Therefore, more experiments should be done on larger groups. 

Scientists also want to test whether the probiotic could help with other food allergies. 

“Theoretically, it should work for any other allergen that’s also presented with this probiotic,” Prang said. "I think a really important study to do next would be to see if it works in the setting of other food allergies to induce a long-lasting tolerance.”

»RELATED: Allergic college student 'hazed' with peanut butter

Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

>> Read more trending news

A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Suicide rate for teen girls hits 40-year record high -- is social media to blame?

According to new data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

» RELATED: Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in boyfriend's suicide, accused of convincing him to commit suicide via text messages 

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, 5 died by suicide.

Additionally, the suicide rate among teen boys in the same age group and year range rose by more than 30 percent.

>> Read more trending news

The analysis mirrors a rising national trend in suicide rates across all age groups, CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN.

» RELATED: Read the full CDC report

So, what’s going on?

Experts such as Simon and Carl Tishler, adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University, said there are a lot of possible factors.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

Some factors include substance abuse, relationship conflicts, lack of emotional support, the stigma associated with mental health, exposure to violence and economic instability.

Tishler specifically cited the rise of the opioid epidemic as a possible factor.

“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more internet suicides,” Tishler told CNN.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

What about social media?

While some public health studies have shown negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health and well-being, Simon said social media isn’t always negative.

“Social media can help increase connections between people, and it's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials,” he told CNN.

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

Still, he acknowledges that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

Additionally, cyberbullying in social media may negatively influence teenage girls more than boys, according to Emory University School of Medicine professor Dorian Lamis.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

“Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate,” Lamis told CNN.

Lamis said the hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teen girls “vulnerable to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life.”

“The message for parents, teachers, coaches and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned,” Simon said.

Read more from CNN.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, or if you are concerned for someone else, here are some helpful resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Online chat

Suicide prevention resources for parents, guardians and families

Suicide prevention resources for teens

Suicide prevention resources for survivors of suicide loss

More resources and programs at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

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