Roundup: Traumatic Brain Injuries in Kids; E-Cig Chemicals Update; and Binge Drinking Among Older Adults

Activities, Products Linked to Most Traumatic Brain Injuries in Kids, Teens

Most traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, among children and teens in the United States that result in a trip to the ER are linked to certain recreational or sports activities and consumer products, according to a study published in the journal Brain Injury.

A TBI is defined as a “disruption in the normal functioning of the brain due to a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury,” the study says.

Researchers said the most common product categories linked to non-fatal TBIs in children were related to sports and recreation, which accounted for 29 percent of injuries, while home furnishings and fixtures were associated with 17 percent of injuries. The rest: home structures and construction materials were linked to 17 percent of injuries; child nursery equipment, 2.7 percent; and toys, 2.4 percent.

Overall, about 72 percent of traumatic brain injury-related ER visits among children are associated with consumer products.

Cases of TBI stemming from home furnishings and fixtures, primarily beds, were highest among infants and children up to 4 years of age. Injuries from sports and recreation equipment — especially related to football, bicycling and basketball — were highest among kids and teens, ages 5 to 19.

The new study examined about 4.1 million cases of non-fatal TBIs in children and adolescents in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013. The data came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program.

Children who survive a TBI often suffer long-lasting health issues, including impairment in neurological development that affects “educational performance, everyday memory, and adaptive skills,” researchers said.

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Relatively Unknown Effects of e-Cig Chemicals Can Hurt Airways, Study Finds

Some e-cigarette users are “vaping” ingredients, including flavorings, resulting in chemical reactions that can irritate air passageways, new findings show.

Those who vape sometimes inhale a flavoring chemical commonly used in e-cigarettes, which mixes with nicotine, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Those flavoring chemicals are known as glycerols and they form acetals when they react with other e-cig chemicals. The health effects of inhaling acetals are not well known. However, acetals that are produced when combined with a vaping device’s aerosol are more likely to irritate a person’s airways than just the vanillin — the flavoring chemical that is the focus of the study.

The chemical vanillin itself is subject to U.S. regulation. It is a flavoring agent used in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. But the Yale University researchers behind the study stress that it’s the mixture of vanillin with other e-cig chemicals that creates a health concern.

“People often assume that these e-liquids are a final product once they are mixed,” Hanno Erythropel, the study’s lead author, told the Hartford Courant. “But the reactions create new molecules in the e-liquids, and it doesn’t just happen in e-liquids from small vape shops, but also in those from the biggest manufacturers in the U.S.”

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Binge Drinking Rising Among Adults 65 and Older, Study Indicates

Binge drinking is often associated with young adults, but a new study finds that those 65 and older have this alcohol habit and it could be threatening their health.

The study estimates that 10.6 percent of adults in the U.S. who are 65 years of age and older are “current binge drinkers.” Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the analysis by researchers used recent national survey data on alcohol use.

Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks at a time for men, and four or more drinks at a time for women. This habit can be more dangerous for older people, putting them at risk for a range of health problems.

The study found that a large segment of older people who reported at least one binge drinking episode in the previous 30 days had chronic conditions that could be made worse by alcohol.

Researchers calculated that 41.4 percent of those who took part in binge drinking had high blood pressure, 23.1 percent had cardiovascular disease, and 17.7 percent had diabetes.

“Results confirm the importance of screening for binge drinking behaviors among older adults to minimize harms,” the study concluded.

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