C2 THURSDAY, MAY 1, 1997 HEALTH THE SALINA JOURNAL T CHILDREN AND TV Virtual Violence Media mayhem damages society By DEBORAH V. SHELTON Los Angeles Tifnes M INNEAPOLIS — Dr. Tim Crimmons sees its bloody aftermath in the emergency department of the county hospital where he works in Min- nesota.Dr. Marjorie J. Hogan asks patients about it when she sees them in her Minneapolis pediatric practice. Psychiatrist Larry Stone tries to repair the emotional damage it wreaks on youths he treats at a San Antonio hospital. Each doctor is trying to deal with the growing incidence of youth violence and what each sees as a major factor in its rise: exposure to media violence. According to research, the average child views more than 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 16,000 murders, before graduating from high school. That doesn't count the mayhem depicted in movies, music and video and computer games. The American Medical Association released a "Physician Guide to Media Violence," a 21-page booklet offering suggestions on how to take a patient's media history, as well as tips for physicians and parents on how to monitor children's media viewing. It has been distributed to about 60,000 physicians nationwide, primarily pediatricians. It encourages doctors to take a media history for all new patients and raise the issue periodically. "It's a pediatrician's purview to ask the right questions and to ask the tough questions, to uncover these issues and make a plan on how to approach them," said Hogan, chair of communications for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "It might mean a family needs parenting support." Also, doctors should build on an ongoing relationship with the family. "It's important to approach parents respectfully," said Dr. Alii Coulter, a family physician in Minneapolis. "We shouldn't be telling them they should be doing this, or they shouldn't be doing that." Parents are usually receptive and already concerned about what their kids are exposed to, she said. They don't want to be patronized. "We are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that the electronic media probably have an even greater influence than we have suspected, in terms of the formation of attitudes, values and behaviors," said psychologist David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, a nonprofit organization formed to help parents make better entertainment choices. Physicians can play as significant a role in alerting the public to the dangers of excessive media violence as they've done to sound the alarm on smoking, said Mary Ann Banta of the National Coalition on Television Violence, a nonprofit group that educates the public about the impact of TV violence. V WOMAN'S HEALTH Air conditioning can help during hay fever season FREDRIC D. FRIGOLETTO JR. OB/GYN Simple springtime activities such as jogging, pruning shrubs, or driving with open windows can 4 be a problem if you suffer from so-called hay fever. Any exposure to the great outdoors means sneezing, a runny nose, red- rimmed eyes and stuffy sinuses. Taste, smell and hearing can become dulled. Doctors call v this allergic rhinitis. It's not an allergy to hay but to pollens, mold spores and other airborne irritants that infiltrate the environment from spring to autumn. Inhaling these tiny particles, called allergens, causes your immune system to react by releasing histamines as a defense. This triggers a chain reaction of symptoms. Blood vessels dilate in the nose and sinuses, membranes swell, fluids flow, and eyes become inflamed. Dark circles may appear below the eyes. An estimated one in 12 Americans have allergic rhinitis whether they live in the ragweed-heavy northeastern states or the sagebrush- riddled west. In fact, moving to escape offending plants and trees is not a solution. People who are sensitive to pollen and other allergens tend to inherit this susceptibility and can develop new sensitivities anywhere. Symptoms often worsen af- ter an illness, when immune < function is lowered. The best defense is to limit exposure to allergens during the hay fever season, Stay indoors in the morning, especially on hot, dry, windy days- when pollen counts peak. Reserve outdoor exercise for late afternoon. Delegate yard work or wear a filtration mask. Use an air conditioner at home and in your car. Keep away • from dust, smoke, insecticides, paint, cleaning supplies and similar irritants that can worsen your reaction. Try saline nasal drops Control sneezes, post-nasal drip, stuffiness and other symptoms with over-the- counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants or a combination of both. Decongestant nasal sprays should be used sparingly to avoid worsening congestion. Instead, use saline nasal drops or talk to your doctor, who might prescribe cro- molyn and steroid sprays that block the release of chemicals that cause allergic reactions. If allergies interfere with . daily functioning, your doctor- may suggest immunotherapy. This three-to-five year series of injections consists of tiny doses of specific allergens that help you build up tolerance. However, the effectiveness of immunotherapy is inconclusive, so discuss this option in depth with an allergist. With time, your immune system may self-correct and '. lessen allergic rhinitis. By limiting exposure and control-. ling symptoms, you can enjoy the seasons in more comfort. T POST-POLIO SYNDROME % f 1 I I I I • • | • * T rua i-ryuiu arNunumt ; ; Violent shows produce aggression in kids p 0 ij 0 surv ivors find disease strikes again -By DEBORAH SHELTON tos Angeles Times SAN ANTONIO — Those on the front lines see clearly the devastating effect media violence has on viewers, especially younger ones. Psychiatrist Larry Stone, president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said media viewing can be linked to the behavior of some of his patients at Laurel Ridge Hospital in San Antonio, where he works with both child victims and perpetrators of violence. "A child will describe something they watched on TV that they tried at a later time," said Stone, the facility's executive medical director. "We're seeing more of an unconscious identification with what they've seen or heard. They will use the language; they will dress and look like some of the characters in the movies; or they will emulate the words from (violent) songs." Media violence has been linked to a sharp rise in the nation's homicide rate, said Dr. Brandon Centerwall, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, Seattle. An eight-year research program he helped conduct at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that rates of violent crimes — including homicides, rapes and assaults — doubled within 10 to 15 years of the introduction of television. His research was instrumental in the passage of the so-called "V-chip" law, which requires television manufacturers to include special circuitry in new sets that allows parents to block objectionable T SURVEY "There are children who get up in the morning, watch TV until the bus comes and then sit in front of the set as soon as they get home, sometimes until they go to bed at night." Dr. Marjorie Hogan Minneapolis, Minn., pediatrician programming. Furthermore, a 22-year longitudinal study by University of Michigan researchers Leonard Eron.and L. Rowell Huesmann found a correlation between the amount of entertainment watched and subsequent aggressive, antisocial behavior in middle-class children. The researchers found that children who were not aggressive at age 8, but watched substantial amounts of violent TV, eventually became more aggressive than peers who hadn't watched violent TV. "Kids have access to all the cable channels and are very savvy about channel surfing," said Minnesota pediatrician Marjorie Hogan, who routinely asks kids about their viewing habits during well-child visits. "There are children who get up in the morning, watch TV until the bus comes and then sit in front of the set as soon as they get home, sometimes until they go to bed at night." Media violence can have a desensitizing effect, encourage impulsiveness and teach young people that violence is a legitimate means to an end, Stone said. "They see violence as a way of solving problems, as a way of boosting their ego. Violence even becomes an alternative to loneliness." The result: "a viciousness that's occurring among our teen-agers and young adults that's unprecedented in my (16-year) career," said Dr. Tim Crimmons, an emergency physician at Hennepin County (Minnesota) Medical Center. Violence in the media is not the sole cause of youth and adult violence, everyone agrees, but it's believed to be one of multiple factors that include poverty, racism, child abuse, drug addiction, family dysfunction and unemployment. Child and adolescent mental'health experts are also concerned about the lack of adequate parenting, supervision, communication and the fostering of positive values in families of children whose media exposure is unmonitored. "The absence of parenting in the home, of consistent values in the child's social environment and the increase of violence depicted in the media all contribute to the rise of violence as an accepted form of behavior," Stone said. The good news is that much of the damage can be reversed, depending on such factors as a child's friendships, socialization skills, the involvement of parents and participation in extracurricular activities. Those who are already "identifying with violence" may need professional counseling, Stone added. More pregnant women drinking Survey finds too many babies are at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome By TARA MEYER The Associated Press „ ATLANTA — Pregnant women are drinking harder than they did four years earlier, raising the risk their babies will suffer mental retardation, learning disorders and £ther problems, the government recently reported. A telephone survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 3.5 percent of 1,313 moms-to-be in 1995 admitted they had seven or more drinks per week or binged on five or more drinks at once within the previous month. That's up from 0.8 percent of 1,053 pregnant women in 1991. " "Even though those numbers seem small, that's a pretty significant increase," statistician Beth Luman said. The sample suggests that 140,000 pregnant women nationwide were frequent drinkers in 1995, compared with 32,000 women in 1991, Whtrt Kansas ranks Kansas ranked 31st in a 1995 survey of women of childbearing age (18-44) in each state who had seven or more drinks each week pr five or more in one sitting. The sunflower state's percentage was 11.3, That compares to Wisconsin with the highest rate at 19.4 percent and Tennessee with the lowest at 4.0. she said. The center also said 16.3 percent of the pregnant women in 1995 had at least one drink in the preceding month, compared with 12.4 percent in 1991. Louise Floyd, chief of the fetal alcohol syndrome prevention section, said the reason for the increase is unclear. Researchers are going back through the survey to find out. Drinking while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a lifelong condition that can include retardation, facial abnormalities, stunted growth and learning disorders. Floyd said researchers are finding some harmful effects from three or four drinks a week. "No drinking is safe while you're pregnant," she said. The 1995 survey questioned 33,585 randomly selected women — pregnant or not — ages 18 to 44. Of the total, more than half said they drank at least once within the past month and 12.6 percent were frequent drinkers, or those who have at least seven drinks a week or five or more at once. The percentages were similar to the 1991 figures. The drinking rates among women in 1995 were highest in Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania. In 1981, the U.S. surgeon general first urged women — pregnant or planning to be — not to drink. Those warnings were repeated by the secretary of health and human services in 1990 and 1995. Claire Coles, an expert on fetal alcohol syndrome, speculated that people may simply be more honest about owning up to their drinking. But she said that in any case, obstetricians and gynecologists need to talk to their patients about alcohol. "Anyone who is working with pregnant women should look at a 3.5 percentage and realize they should be asking women more questions," said Coles, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta. "We keep talking about this, yet I'm not sure everyone is convinced drinking while pregnant is dangerous." 25 to 40 percent are estimated to experience symptoms of syndrome By ALISON ROBERTS Sacramento Bee SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Frances Gracechild says she denied her own experience with post-polio syndrome for years. She had polio when she was 1 years old in 1952. She spent terrifying months in a hospital, including time in an iron lung. But she made a heroic recovery. By the time she was 12, she was walking with only a slight limp. She was finished with polio. But it was not finished with her. "It seemed more an inconvenience than a disability," she said. Her personal and professional lives moved smoothly. She had a daughter, now grown, and in her mid-30s she became executive director of Sacramento's Resources for Independent Living, a program that provides the physically disabled with support, advocacy and housing services. But then she began to have problems. She couldn't seem to walk far without falling down. She stopped setting her hair, because she just didn't have the strength to lift her arms. She would prop up one hand with her other at meetings rather than raising her hand. She was slowly changing the ways she did things without consciously acknowledging it. It was a friend, another polio survivor, who suggested to her that she might be suffering from post-polio syndrome. The syndrome is a constelkv tion of symptoms of muscular weakness, fatigue and pain experienced by polio survivors any 1 where from 20 to 40 years after their initial illness. Medical researchers began to take note of $ in the early '80s. With 640,000 survivors of paralytic polio living'in the United States, there are many people who may face some probr lems as they get older. Anywher6 from 25 to 40 percent are estimated to experience some syndrom^ symptoms. '; Among those who may haVe suffered from it in the past Is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose complaints before his death" ifl 1945 fit the syndrome description. Peggy Portwood, a Sacramento physician of physical medicine and rehabilitation, has seen' at least 200 patients with post-polio over the last 10 years. . ; Portwood says it appears that a combination of normal aging processes and lessened muscle and joint capacity cause problems. Generally, the worse the initial case of polio, the worse the problems are later on. •". Looking for treatments Several researchers around the country are looking into strategies for treatment, including drugs and exercise approaches. < Alice Basco chairs the Sacramento Post Polio Support Group. About 75 people, ranging in age from their late 30s to their 80s; now attend meetings. Basco, who has used a wheelchair since she contracted polio at 13, says she believes many others could use help. I >H K I M-A >r -J I I II \ I K I S Qf\ C | for MOVIE Selection* and SHOWTIMES Call: OZD" We've go tie world wide web -91 OS^ The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Times: 'Ilium. 5:00 7:00* Fri. 6:00 7:00 9:00 Sal. 2:00 B.OO 7:00 9.00 Sun: 2:00 5:00 7:00 91 minutes Ratal Nk I russell breakdown [Sunset ,') jllll B •Mil |t STARTS TOMORROW!
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