Teen Teen Health

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    Most parents would be completely thrilled if their child got into just ONE Ivy League college. That, for many, would be a huge deal. Now, what would you do if your child was accepted at not one Ivy League school but all eight of them? That's just what happened to Kwasi Enin, a New York high school senior. So, how did this happen?

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    As a former smoker, I am well-aware that smoking is bad for you. That's why I'm a former smoker. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the no smoking movement has been successful enough in their campaigns that even folks still puffing away KNOW that smoking is bad for them.

    But it's also totally addictive. And the marketing of those delicious and deadly sticks is totally pernicious. That marketing is still a hot-button issue, especially when it comes to groups who are at higher risk for addiction, you know, like teenagers.

    A new study released charges tobacco companies with the crime of deliberately marketing their products to the more easily influenced teenage demographic. It's not shocking, but it's one more reason why talking to your teens about smoking is absolutely necessary. That doesn't make it feel any less lame, though.

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    Parents who take their children for "annuals" at the pediatrician's office -- is this even a common thing anymore? -- might be shocked to learn that their family doctor is about to give the classic wellness visit a serious upgrade. Whether or not they are at risk for high cholesterol, children between the ages of 9 and 11 will receive cholesterol tests because doctors believe these can reduce the chance that they will suffer from heart disease later on in life, according to new guidelines published this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If high cholesterol levels are detected in young children, docs say they can use preventive measures, like making recommendations on how they can change their diets and incorporate more exercise into their lives, in an effort to stop a major problem before it starts. And cholesterol screenings aren't the only change you can expect.

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    Girl Scout cookies are so scrumptious they can sell themselves, but it doesn't hurt when the young teen entrepreneur in charge of turning a profit for her troop knows where to find the best customers. Danielle Lei, who is 13, is a Girl Scout from San Francisco who is going to be the next Marissa Mayer. Instead of going door to door selling Samoas and Peanut Butter Patties, she set up shop right outside of a legal cannabis clinic and let her customers come to her. And, boy, she is killing it. Her parents are totally on board here, but are her actions promoting pot use among young people?

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    Kids love sugar. This isn't exactly newsworthy, is it? But a new study reveals that the under-18 set is straying away from soda and turning instead to sweetened coffee drinks. Coffee is to blame for nearly a quarter of children's daily caffeine intake, up 10 percent from a decade ago. The study suggests that our negative attitude toward soda has a lot to do with it, while our acceptance of coffee and some of its positive and healthy attributes is contributing to their habit. And yes, I said habit. Researchers fear all of the yummy, creamy frappuccinos and chocolate chip mocha lattes could be to blame for a potential future caffeine addiction

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    When it comes to the issue of whether Justin Bieber should be deported to Canada, First Lady Michelle Obama isn't speaking -- despite the fact that the White House has reportedly received a petition containing a whopping 252,782 signatures in favor of giving the pop star the boot. Mama Bear Michelle is far more interested in doling out advice to a person who seems like she could use it: Justin's mom. In a recent interview, Michelle said she would pull Justin close if she were his mom and that she would be very present in his life. She reminded us that Biebs is, at the end of the day, just a kid who is still growing up and that all he needs is love and the strong arm of the law in the form of a strong mom.

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    I once witnessed an adolescent attempt to snort chalk as a joke. After giving him a stern lecture and telling his mom, I just couldn't stop shaking my head and wondering, What in the hell is wrong with kids these days? Apparently, I was late to the party with this one because teens have been snorting all kinds of weird powders that aren't actual drugs -- including Smarties candies -- for years now. Some even film themselves doing it and post their videos on YouTube. The good news, or as close to good news as we're going to get, is that the latest warning against snorting Smarties is so horrifying and repulsive, it may actually get your teen to listen to you for a change. 

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    Kurtis Hildreth was a healthy 18-year-old, according to his family members, who never had a heart condition or experienced seizures. Two months ago, the Alaskan teen was found dead in his bedroom with a pipe filled with a synthetic brand of marijuana known as Spice at his feet. Although the medical examiner's office declared the cause of his death to be "undetermined," Kurtis' family feels the catalyst was obvious: Spice. Now they are making it a priority to spread the word about this drug, which is totally legal and gaining in popularity among some teens. 

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    The war on tobacco in America is gradually being won by the non-smoker -- and good for them. Everyone knows that cigarettes (while delicious) are deadly things. I say this as a former smoker. I say this as the granddaughter of a woman who smoked until her death, a broad who used to call them 'coffin nails.' Cigarettes will kill you. It is not news.

    I say I'm a former smoker, but like an alcoholic, though I'm a year down the pike, I'm tempted to say that in my heart, whether or not I'm actually holding a cigarette to my lips, I'll always be a smoker. I started relatively late. I was 17 when I had my first cigarette. Studies say that if a teen makes it to 19 without trying a cigarette -- they are significantly less likely to pick up the habit ever. I just made the cut. Lucky me (she said, dripping with sarcasm).

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    We know, we know, Madonna is the hippest mother -- and maybe even woman over 40 -- on planet Earth, and as the holder of such a title, the rest of us are expected to excuse anything she does that comes off as unorthodox. But her latest attempt to seem closer to her 13-year-old son Rocco Ritchie's age than her own is truly bizarre and not at all what we'd expect from an intelligent woman who had a solid reputation as being a strict mom. Madonna posted a photo on Instagram of Rocco and two of his young friends holding bottles of alcohol on a vacation in the Swiss Alps. The 55-year-old pop queen, who captioned the photo, "The party has just begun! Bring it! 2014," says we all need to chill out because the photo is no big deal. 

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