Tobacco is the leading cause of death in the United States, and the vast majority of adults who smoke begin during childhood and adolescence. Although the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 resulted in restriction of certain types of marketing and youth access to tobacco, the tobacco industry still spent more than $14 billion in advertising in 2003. This study provides national data on the differential effects of retail marketing strategies on smoking uptake by children and adolescents. From 1999 to 2003, data were collected from 26 000 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students. Higher levels of advertising, lower cigarette prices, and a greater availability of cigarette promotions were associated with smoking uptake. Availability of advertising increased the likelihood that youth would move from experimentation with tobacco to regular smoking. The increase in cigarette retail marketing is at least partly offsetting any benefits of other Master Settlement Agreement–related marketing reductions.
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Americans spend more than $4 billion each year on bottled water. The addition of fluoride to community water supplies has had a dramatic effect on the incidence of dental caries in the United States, an effect potentially threatened by the use of bottled water. This study of 216 parents found that 41% never gave tap water to their children, including 65% of the lowest income families. Latino parents were 68% less likely to give tap water to their children than non-Latino parents and were nearly 6-fold more likely to believe that tap water in their communities could make their children sick; 2 in 5 children who were never given tap water were not given fluoride either.
Prior studies have suggested a link between respiratory illness, such as asthma, and mental disorders in youth. This study by Goodwin and colleagues used data from a 3-generation, 20-year longitudinal study of major depression to examine the association between depression and respiratory illness in the youngest generation. Major depression in both parents and grandparents was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased likelihood of respiratory illness in children and adolescents. This was not explained by parental respiratory illness, prenatal smoking, or functional impairment. There was no association of family history of major depression and other physical disorders in the children. The mechanisms accounting for this association are unknown.
Abnormal brain structure or function may impair auditory processing with little effect on hearing thresholds. Prior studies have suggested the association of auditory processing deficits in adults with structural brain abnormalities due to a PAX6 mutation. This case-control study of children with congenital aniridia due to the PAX6 mutation found that the volume of the corpus callosum on magnetic resonance imaging was significantly smaller in children with the PAX6 mutation than in controls. While audiogram results were normal in all children, nearly all of those with the PAX6 mutation had abnormal auditory processing, consistent with a defect in transfer of auditory information between hemispheres. The combined auditory and visual deficits may result in significant disability for these children, especially in the classroom.
This Month in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(5):433. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.5.433