Teen Drinkers Risk Permanent Brain Damage


Posted on 27th January 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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I always chuckle, then sigh, when some reporter or researcher thinks they have discovered a “new” hazard to brain health. I heard last year that Traumatic Brain Injury was a new injury, stemming from Iraq. Not. Now the latest in this long line of “discoveries” is that drinking can cause brain damage. How do you say: Duh?

Still, it is good to remind teens and parents of what a recent study by the University of California, San Diego, found, NPR reported Monday.

In its online story, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122765890&ps;=cprs, NPR reports that the school compared brain scans of teens who drank heavily to those that don’t.

The youths who drank had damaged nerve tissue, so-called “white matter” in their brains. That kind of damage can lead to shortening a boy’s attention span and negatively impact a girl’s comprehension and interpretation of visual information, NPR said.

(What are they serious? Like it wouldn’t affect a girl’s attention span to damage the electrical connections within the brain, or negatively impact a boy’s comprehensions? )

During teen years, certain areas of the brain are still forming and are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol, which is why youths risk more than a hangover by drinking.

The study found that binge drinkers – having four or five drinks at a time, two or three times a month, performed worse on memory and cognitive tests than those who didn’t. Academics and alcohol apparently don’t mix. If they think that is “binge drinking”, they have obviously not been outside of their laboratories for a long time. What is perhaps most significant about this study is how little alcohol it took to show a material change in the adolescent brain.

Seriously, alcohol can cause brain damage and the younger the person, the more vulnerable the brain to the effects. But alcohol is far more serious in other ways, such as a cause of serious car wrecks, of addiction, of alcohol poisoning, where true binge drinking – the kind where a person’s blood alcohol reaches .3% or above – can kill. That which can kill, will cause brain damage if it falls short of a fatal dose.

Remember the time when pregnant women still drank?

The ‘Choking Game’ The Latest Fad For Parents To Lose Sleep Over


Posted on 26th January 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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I spend my entire career trying to get justice for those who have suffered brain damage because of the wrongful conduct of others. How frustrating for me as a lawyer, how scary for me as a parent to read about the latest phenomenon among our young people. The so-called “choking game” has become such a concern that newspapers across the country have been writing about it, including The New York Times and The Star-Ledger of Newark. N.J., last week.

Although the choking game may be a mystery to you, it may not be one to your kids, as The Times points out in its story, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/health/research/22choke.html?scp=1&sq;=brain%20damage&st;=cse.

The practice, which can lead to brain damage, is also know as “pass out” or “space monkey,” according to the Ledger’s story, http://www.nj.com/parenting/lee_lusardiconnor/index.ssf/2010/01/the_choking_game_should_you_question_your_kids.html.

In the choking game pressure is applied to the neck, by oneself using a belt or scarf, or someone else doing it. The brain’s lack of oxygen leads to a euphoria or “high” for the person being strangled. Some go so far as to seek to become unconscious, because when they come to they get another high.

But it can be a deadly game at the very worse, and cause brain damage at the worse. The “game” has been blamed dozens of adolescent deaths across the country, according to The Times.

A new statewide survey, from Oregon, sparked the recent press coverage of the phenomenon. The rather astounding results published by The Times were that one in three eighth graders in Oregon have heard of the choking game, and 1 in 20 have taken part in it. Youths in rural areas were more likely to have tried it.

The not-so-fun choking game has caused an estimated 82 deaths from 1995 to 2007, according to s survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Times reported. Most of those deaths were of males 11 to 16 years.