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You Docs: Kids take cues from parents on drug use

  • Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 12 a.m.

The list of movies aimed at kids that show (supposedly) lovable stars who use drugs is long and well-known: There’s “Cheech and Chong,” “Harold & Kumar” and the entire “Hangover” series (including the tiger – don’t ask). Helping teens stay away from recreational drugs is a big job and one that, unfortunately, some parents don’t feel they’re up to or don’t feel they have the clout to make a difference. That’s info from a new survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration after talking with more than 67,000 Americans over the age of 12.

The upshot: 22 percent of parents don’t think what they say about drug use will change how their children act. But research shows that nothing could be further from the truth. Among kids who feel their parents strongly disapprove of marijuana use, only 5 percent are willing to risk it; but more than 30 percent of kids whose parents don’t make their anti-drug message clear are willing to experiment with pot. Mom and Dad, you are the health guides in all areas — from drugs to doughnuts to sleep.

When you don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk, you are amazingly influential. So gather your kids around, plan a family meal, schedule regular family walks and set aside time for conversations about the importance of a healthful lifestyle for better grades, higher self-esteem and a brighter future.

Don’t strike out on sleep

Apparently, fatigue isn’t just for Cleveland Indians baseball fans waiting (again) to see their team play in the postseason. Fatigue can happen to players, too. One new study reveals that near the end of the season, in September, most major league baseball players don’t judge the strike zone as well as they did in April. Another study revealed that the length of a baseball player’s career can be fairly well predicted by how sleepy he gets during the day.

But fortunately, bad sleeping habits and fatigue can be remedied. These techniques work on and off the field. Opt for a diet that’s got plenty of lean protein and only 100 percent whole grains to reduce daytime drowsiness and give you seven to eight hours of sleep every night. And avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.

If you’re changing time zones, start shifting your inner clock before you leave by hitting the sack an hour earlier (heading west) or later (heading east) than normal. When in bed, no computers, TV or bill-paying.

Testing for gestational diabetes

When they were pregnant, Mariska Hargitay, Salma Hayek and Mariah Carey developed gestational diabetes. It’s a form of diabetes that appears during pregnancy if a woman’s body can’t produce sufficient insulin or respond to the insulin she does produce. As a consequence, her blood sugar rises to levels that are dangerous for mother and child. That can happen if you’re overweight before you become pregnant, if you have a family history of diabetes (Hayek’s family does) or if you’ve gained excess weight while pregnant (Hargitay gained 54 pounds; Carey lost 70 after the birth).

If you have uncontrolled GD, your baby may be born with serious respiratory problems and hypoglycemia, and later on can develop obesity, heart problems and, yes, diabetes. Moms may remain diabetic after the birth (10 percent do) or develop type 2 diabetes later on (35 percent to 60 percent do). Fortunately, there are new recommendations to help you and your newborn avoid serious complications associated with high blood sugar levels.

Check for type 2 diabetes at your first prenatal doctor’s visit (many women have it, but are undiagnosed) and, if you don’t have type 2, get screened for GD at 24 weeks. If you develop GD, stick to your prescribed diet: fruits and veggies, 100 percent whole grains, no refined carbs, no added sugars or sugar syrups, only healthy fats like olive and canola oil, and no red or processed meat. And get regular physical exercise; start walking at least 30 minutes a day. Take medication, if your doctor says it’s necessary. Then you and your baby will have a longer and healthier life.

Your pet and stormy weather

After Hurricane Sandy, a disheveled guy with a parrot on his shoulder walks into a bar. “Where’d you find him?” asks the bartender. “Wandering around Brooklyn,” answers the parrot.

With the summer storm season in full swing, you need to think about protecting your pets physically and emotionally – they may not be quite as resourceful as that parrot. So here are some tips on how to safeguard your bird, dog, cat or other animal before and during a potential disaster.

If appropriate (it’s not so good for geckos), implant them with a microchip so that they can be identified if you’re separated. And carry a photo of you and your pet for fast ID if it becomes necessary.

Guard against separation by having a cage in your shelter (either your basement or at another location), so the animal can ride out the storm securely. Place a piece of your clothing into the crate — particularly important if you board them. Help reduce anxiety triggered by noise, wind, thunder and lightning. Ask your vet about tranquilizers.

For dogs: If you don’t want to medicate your pup, wrap a snug-fitting shirt or Ace bandage around the shoulders and chest, or get what’s called a “Thundershirt.” Pressure around the chest and shoulders of a dog eases tension. When your pet cannot go outside, having litter boxes, gloves and plastic bags in your shelter area will help keep everyone happier.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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