Sex and school are linked, a new study suggests, but not always for worse. The effect of sexual activity on classroom performance depends significantly on whether the sex is within a committed relationship or whether it's a casual fling. Teenagers in a relationship do no worse—or better—in school than those who abstain from sex, according to research presented Sunday at an American Sociological Association meeting. But teens who engage in casual hookups tend to earn lower grades and have more school-related problems than their abstaining peers. Researchers analyzed surveys and school transcripts from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Adolescent Health Academic Achievement Study. They found that teens who have sex outside romantic relationships are more likely to be suspended or expelled, less likely to expect to attend college, and less attached to school. Compared to abstainers or teens in a relationship, their GPAs also suffered: 0.16 points lower for females, and 0.30 points lower for males. Teens engaging in either romantic or casual sex were at greater risk of truancy. Last year about half of high school students reported having sex and 14 percent have had at least four partners, according to federal statistics released earlier this summer.
How to Find a 'Best' Hospital for Diabetes
Most medical problems can be cured or fixed, but diabetes isn't one of them. It is a lifelong condition, kept in check by driving down blood glucose to a healthy level and keeping it tightly controlled with a combination of medications that lower blood sugar, proper diet, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes. A hospital stay due to diabetes-related complications, like nerve pain or circulatory problems, should not happen—it means the disease wasn't properly managed. Moreover, a hospital stay for any reason exposes diabetic patients to special dangers, writes Avery Comarow, U.S. News Health Rankings Editor. A patient whose blood sugar is too high has an increased risk of infection and will be slower to heal if surgery is needed.
Maintaining good blood sugar control is particularly challenging in a hospital setting, however. No matter how diligent the care, it won't match the regimen a patient might have meticulously crafted. If a patient is on insulin, the hospital may use a different form—rapid-acting rather than the patient's long-acting version—or administer the wrong dose. (Insulin errors are among the most frequent serious medical mistakes in hospitals.) Meals are likely to be served at different times than a patient is accustomed to, and are not portion-controlled. Blood thinners, blood pressure drugs, pain relievers, and other medications can affect glucose levels. So can the emotional stress of being in the hospital. Moreover, diabetic patients often arrive with other chronic conditions that complicate treatment, such as heart disease and respiratory problems. The 50 diabetes centers ranked in the latest edition of Best Hospitals, released last month by U.S. News, bring together teams of specialists to deal with these multiple difficulties. [Read more: How to Find a 'Best' Hospital for Diabetes.]
How to Help Girls Cope With Early Puberty—or to Avoid It
Early puberty is a burden. Girls who mature earlier than their peers are more likely to be teased and have behavior problems, writes U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute. Sexual advances may come before the girls are emotionally mature enough to cope. Early puberty in girls also can increase the risk of early sexual activity, depression, and eating disorders. So the news that girls are maturing earlier than ever before is sobering: Ten percent of 7-year-old white girls are already developing breasts, as are 23 percent of black girls and 15 percent of Hispanic girls, according to a new study from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in the September issue of Pediatrics. The figures are higher than 10 to 30 years ago and appear to still be rising for white girls.
Parents can help reduce that risk by helping their daughters maintain a healthy body weight. A high body mass index (BMI) is considered the biggest risk factor for early puberty, probably because body fat produces hormones. The American Academy of Pediatrics asks doctors to screen children using BMI, a measurement of weight to height, starting at age 2; a healthy BMI ranges from the 5th to 84th percentile. [Read more: How to Help Girls Cope With Early Puberty—or Avoid It.]
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