Health Buzz: Teens Using MySpace and Other Health News

Jett Travolta's illness and tragedy; have blood, will travel.

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Teens Who Use MySpace Often Discuss Sex, Substance Abuse, Violence

About 54 percent of adolescents who use the social networking website MySpace often discuss sexual behavior, substance abuse, or violence on the site, according to a pair of new studies published this month in Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine by researchers at Seattle Children's Research Institute. In one of the studies, the researchers looked at 500 randomly selected MySpace profiles of 18-year-old teens (as reported on their MySpace pages) to determine how much they discussed high-risk behaviors and if those behaviors were influenced by their interests, activities, or other factors. Forty-one percent of the profiles referenced substance abuse, 24 percent discussed sexual behavior, and 14 percent talked about teen violence.

Males were more likely than females to include information about violence in their profiles, and teenagers who listed a sexual orientation other than "straight" were more likely to refer to sexual behaviors on their pages. Also, profiles that showed evidence of involvement in church, religious activity, sports, or hobbies were less likely to discuss risky behaviors.

In the second study, researchers randomly picked MySpace profiles of people who listed their ages as 18 to 20 and who had high-risk behaviors included on their profiles. Half of those people were sent an E-mail from a physician, suggesting that they alter their profiles. About 14 percent of the E-mail recipients deleted sexual behavior references from their pages, compared with 5 percent of those who didn't get E-mails, HealthDay reports.

Does your child use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook? Learn how to keep your kids safe online and read 3 ways teens can avoid bogus health info online. Also, here is what to do if your child is bullied online and how Facebook can help you stick to your diet regimen.

Jett Travolta and Kawasaki Syndrome

The Internet is awash with rumors over the cause of the tragic death of actor John Travolta's 16-year-old son, Jett, who died January 2. Jett, who had chronic health problems including seizures, had been seriously ill with Kawasaki syndrome as a toddler. Something else for parents to worry about—doctors who treat children with Kawasaki say it's highly unlikely that the rare ailment had anything to do with the teenager's death because the heart damage typical of the disease happens soon after symptoms start. A 2007 Taiwanese study found that 43 percent of children who were diagnosed 10 days or more after the fever started suffered coronary artery problems, compared with 14 percent of children diagnosed earlier.

How white blood cells and blood vessels interact may offer a clue to the cause of epileptic seizures, according to a recent study. The Food and Drug Administration added a suicide warning to epilepsy drugs in December.

Red Cross: Free Travel for Lucky Blood Donors

Donate blood between now and March 31 and you could be eligible to win a pair of airline tickets to anywhere Delta flies domestically. The American Red Cross's southern region will award 15 pairs of tickets to blood donors in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Puerto Rico, southern Mississippi, and northern Florida (panhandle and Jacksonville area) as part of a promotion to shore up their supplies following the holidays. You don't have to be an area resident to be eligible, according to April Phillips, a spokesperson for the Red Cross's southern blood services region. Vacationers and business travelers in participating regions who stop by to donate are welcome as well. And even though the airline ticket promotion is limited to the southern region, the Red Cross is constantly in need of blood nationwide.

Learn how to meet the criteria for blood donation. But teen donors should use caution because they're more prone to complications when they donate.

—January W. Payne

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