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3 Million Americans Say They Carry Handguns Every Day

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — About 3 million Americans carry a loaded handgun with them on a daily basis, a new survey reveals. Another 9 million U.S. adults reported they carry their weapons on them on a monthly basis. "Carrying firearms in public places can have significant implications for public health and public safety," said study lead author Ali Rowhani-Rahbar. "An important first step to examining the consequences of firearm carrying at the national level is an accurate measurement of the occurrence of this behavior and characterization of those who engage in it," he noted. Rowhani-Rahbar, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington's School of Public Health, made his comments in a school news release. For the study, the researchers reviewed data from a 2015 survey of almost 1,500 gun owners. They found that those who carried a loaded handgun tended to be younger and male. They also tended to live in the southern United States and grew up in gun-owning homes. People carrying guns were more likely to identify as politically conservative, and to own more than one type of gun. Many of those who carried a loaded handgun said they did so for protection. Eighty percent of those who carried their handgun had a concealed-carry permit, and 66 percent said they always carried their handguns concealed. Ten percent said they always carried their guns openly. "It was important to study handgun carrying, because about 90 percent of all firearm homicides and nonfatal firearm crimes for which the type of firearm is known are committed with a handgun," Rowhani-Rahbar said. The study was published Oct. 19 in the American Journal of Public Health. More information The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has more on gun violence. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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State Laws Help Reduce Concussions in Youth Sports

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — State laws aimed at curbing an alarming rise in concussions among student athletes appear to be working. Since 2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to protect young athletes against traumatic brain injury (TBI). Washington state was the first in 2009. Most of the laws require athletes with suspected concussions to stop playing until a doctor clears them to return. Coaches, players and parents must also receive yearly education about concussion. "This movement to get these laws passed has made a huge difference," said Kenneth Podell, director of the Houston Methodist Concussion Center, who reviewed a new study assessing the laws. Led by Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, researchers examined concussion reports to a nationwide sports injury tracking program before and after the laws were passed. The data covered nine high school sports: football, boys' basketball, soccer, baseball and wrestling as well as girls' basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball. The takeaway: Players were more likely to report a concussion, and the number of repeat injuries fell dramatically after the laws went into effect. Between fall 2005 and spring 2016, student athletes reported about 2.7 million concussions. Of those, 89 percent were new and 11 percent were repeat injuries. In 2005, nearly 135,000 initial concussions were reported. The number jumped to more than 360,000 by 2016. Principal investigator Ginger Yang attributed the increase in "new concussions" to increased awareness of symptoms and reporting. Before the laws, many people simply didn't know how to recognize a concussion, so suspected or actual injuries were never reported, she said. Yang is with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Predictably, football players sustained the most concussions, accounting for about half of those reported. Girls who played soccer had the second-highest rate, according to the study. After concussion laws were introduced, however, repeat injuries fell dramatically, from about 14 percent of all concussions in 2005 to roughly 7 percent in 2016. Podell said the added attention created by the laws has been a game-changer. "More and more, year after year, as time goes on more kids self-report symptoms and pull themselves out of the game," he said. "This will pay dividends down the road." Despite improvements in reporting and managing concussions, however, Yang said more must be done to protect players. "Our results, along with those of others, can be used as evidence for the need of more public health efforts that focus on preventing concussions in the first place, such as preventing or reducing initial head or body impact," she said. Other strategies could include setting limits on heading the ball in soccer and stricter adherence to rules. An estimated 1 million to 2 million people age 18 or younger sustain a concussion in the United States each year during sports or other recreational activities. These injuries can have lasting effects on developing brains, including personality changes and problems with thinking and coordination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multiple concussions over an extended period can have cumulative effects. The study was published Oct. 19 in the American Journal of Public Health. More information The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on sports concussion laws. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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Obamacare Widened Access to Cancer Care

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — More U.S. cancer patients gained insurance they needed for their care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), new research reveals. Researchers tracked government data on more than 858,000 adults aged 19 to 64 with a first-time cancer diagnosis. The uninsured rate fell from just over 5.7 percent between 2010-2013 to about 3.8 percent in 2014, when the ACA health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion went into effect, the study found. Increases in coverage occurred for people with numerous types of cancer, those with early- and late-stage disease, and among different ethnic/racial groups, the study found. The finding has real implications for patients, the researchers say, as Congress wrestles with a potential repeal or replacement of Obamacare. "Policy changes that reduce Medicaid funding or weaken protections for individuals with pre-existing condition could be particularly harmful for patients with cancer," conclude a team led by Aparna Soni, of the business school at Indiana University, in Bloomington. According to the study, the number of uninsured Americans with cancer fell in 2014 in states that experienced Medicaid expansion due to the ACA. On the other hand, that number didn't budge in states without Medicaid expansion. Two hospital administrators agreed that the findings offer insights into future health of Americans with cancer. The findings, "suggest that the ACA saved lives, especially in those states with Medicaid expansion," said Dr. Michael Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. "Future health policy decisions must be undertaken with the understanding that the legislative pen is a powerful tool that can save or cost real lives when health care coverage is at stake," he added. Dr. Theodore Maniatis is medical director of the Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. He believes there are many barriers to cancer care, especially for lower-income Americans. "The number of health insurance plans, restrictions, co-pays, deductibles etc. that exist is almost unmanageable," he said. "Doctors' offices and hospitals have difficulties dealing with the different rules and regulations of these insurance plans. Patients usually find it mind-boggling." Rising co-pays and deductibles lead to "yearly out-of-pocket expenses [that] for some plans adds up to several thousands of dollars, which makes many healthcare services unaffordable for these individuals." For their part, Soni's team acknowledged certain study limitations. These include use of data from only 13 states and tracking outcomes for only one year after the ACA took effect. The findings appear in a research letter published Oct. 19 in the journal JAMA Oncology. More information The American Cancer Society offers resources to help pay for cancer treatment. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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Is a Dangerous Bird Flu on the Horizon?

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Scientists have found new evidence that the H7N9 bird flu, currently confined to China, has the potential for a widespread outbreak. Public health experts have long been tracking the bird flu strain, which emerged in humans in 2013. Since then, nearly 1,600 cases have been confirmed in China — with a death rate of about 40 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There's no evidence that H7N9 can be readily passed from person to person. There have been only isolated cases of human transmission, the CDC says, with most people falling ill because of contaminated poultry. However, public health officials have been worried about H7N9's potential to eventually trigger a pandemic, or global outbreak. The new study could add to those concerns. Researchers found that samples of H7N9 were easily transmitted among ferrets — an animal "model" that is considered the best proxy for human flu infection. And those infections were often lethal. "I want to be clear that there is no sustained transmission of H7N9 among humans at this point," said senior researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And at the moment," he added, "it's confined to China." However, Kawaoka explained, influenza viruses constantly mutate, and it's possible for a strain to become more virulent, more resistant to drugs or more easily transmissible. One infectious diseases expert agreed. "This study reinforces two points. Highly pathogenic H7N9 poses an important public health risk. And these viruses evolve over time, so the risk can change," said Dr. Matthew Zahn, chair of the public health committee at the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "This is an important reminder that surveillance needs to continue." Since 2013, there have been annual outbreaks of H7N9 in China, according to the CDC. The most recent one is the largest yet, the agency says — with 764 cases reported as of Sept. 17. In past outbreaks, officials had detected only "low pathogenic" H7N9 viruses, which do not make chickens or other domestic poultry overtly sick. More recently, though, there's been an emergence of highly infectious H7N9 viruses, which do sicken and kill the animals. And in the most recent China outbreak, at least 25 people have been infected with those viruses, according to Kawaoka's team. For their study, the researchers analyzed a virus sample from a patient in China who'd died of a highly pathogenic H7N9 infection. They found that the virus had begun to mutate: Some viral cells were vulnerable to the drug Tamiflu (which the patient had received), while others had developed resistance. Next, the researchers created two viruses that mimicked the patient's sample: one that was sensitive to Tamiflu, and one that was resistant. They compared those three viruses with a low-pathogenic version of H7N9. The researchers found that all of the viruses infected mice and ferrets, but the highly infectious bugs made the animals more severely ill, including some lethal infections. And, it turned out, all of the viruses were easily passed through the air among ferrets housed in cages next to one another. The researchers also confirmed that the drug-resistant H7N9 virus did not respond to the active ingredient in Tamiflu. It was, however, susceptible to a drug called favipiravir (Avigan), which is currently approved only in Japan. It's hard to judge how well drugs like Tamiflu have worked against H7N9 in China, Kawaoka said. The medications should ideally be given within two days of the first symptoms, and many patients get them too late, he explained. In a recent report, the CDC said that of virus samples tested from the latest outbreak, over 10 percent had evidence of reduced susceptibility to current flu drugs. For now, Kawaoka said, it's clear that ongoing surveillance of H7N9 is critical. He noted that the emergence of highly pathogenic viruses has a positive side: Because the infections are now sickening food animals, outbreaks are easier to detect. The study was published Oct. 19 in Cell Host & Microbe. More information The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview of H7N9 bird flu. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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Lying Down After an Epidural: A Smart Idea?

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Lying down after an epidural increases a first-time mother's chances of having a normal birth, a new study suggests. With an epidural, a tube is inserted into a space below the spinal cord, and small doses of painkillers can be given during childbirth. More than 50 percent of U.S. women in labor have an epidural for pain relief, according to the American Pregnancy Association. But having an epidural increases the risk of having to use instruments — such as forceps or suction — during childbirth. It's been suggested that lying down after receiving an epidural may improve the likelihood of a spontaneous birth, the British researchers said. To investigate that theory, the study authors looked at nearly 3,100 first-time mothers in British hospitals. The women 16 and older, and received a low-dose epidural while in labor. About half laid down afterwards, while half stayed in an upright position. About 41 percent of those in the lying down group had a spontaneous birth, compared with about 35 percent of those in the upright group. There were no short- or long-term disadvantages for mothers or infants in either group, the researchers said. The report by Peter Brocklehurst, from the University of Birmingham, and colleagues was published Oct. 18 in the BMJ. Lying down "appears to be easy and cost-free to adopt. This evidence will allow pregnant women, in consultation with their health care providers, to make informed choices about their position in the second stage of labor," the study authors said in a journal news release. More information The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more on labor and birth. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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‘Handful of changes’ make cancer

British scientists have worked out how many changes it takes to transform a healthy cell into a cancer. The team, at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, showed the answer was a tiny handful, between one and 10 mutations depending on the type of tumour. It has been one of the most hotly debated issues in cancer science for decades. The findings, published in the journal Cell, could improve treatment for patients. If you played spot the difference between a cancer and healthy tissue, you could find tens of thousands of differences – or mutations – in the DNA. Some are driving the cancer's growth, while others are just along for the ride. So which ones are important? Root cause The researchers analysed the DNA from 7,664 tumours to find "driver mutations" that allow a cell to be more selfish, aggressive and cancerous. They showed it could take: just one mutation to drive thyroid and testicular cancers four mutations to make a breast or liver cancer 10 mutations to create a colorectal cancer. Dr Peter Campbell, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "We've known about the genetic basis of cancer for many decades now, but how many mutations are responsible has been incredibly hotly debated. "What we've been able to do in this study is really provide the first unbiased numbers. "And it seems that of the thousands of mutations in a cancer genome, only a small handful are responsible for dictating the way the cell behaves, what makes it cancerous." Half the mutations identified were in sets of genetic instructions – or genes – that had never been implicated in cancer before. Therapy The long-term goal is to advance precision cancer treatment. If doctors know which few mutations, out of thousands, were driving a patient's cancer, it could allow drugs that specifically targeted that mutation to be used. Drugs such as herceptin and Braf inhibitors are already used to attack specific mutations in tumours. The researchers were able to pick out the mutations that were driving the growth of cancer by turning to Charles Darwin and evolutionary theory. In essence, driver mutations should appear more often in tumours than "neutral" mutations that do not make the cell cancerous. This is because the forces of natural selection give an evolutionary advantage to mutations that help a cell grow and divide more readily. Dr Nicholas McGranahan, from the Cancer Research UK and the UCL Cancer Institute, said the approach was "elegant". He said: "Cancer is a disease that evolves and changes over time, and it makes sense to use ideas like this from species evolution to work out the genetic faults that cause cancer to grow. "But as this study focuses on one part of cancer evolution, it can only give us insight into part of the puzzle. "Other components such as how DNA is packaged into chromosomes are also key in how a tumour progresses and will need to be looked at to give us a clearer picture of how cancer evolves." Follow James on Twitter. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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People Deemed Better Looking, Better Off After a Nose Job

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Is a "nose job" worth it? And if so, how much? A new study suggests that casual observers may think patients who undergo such procedures are more attractive, more successful and healthier. "While we are not suggesting that [a nose job] is the only way to improve one's appearance, improving our attractiveness and health as compared to others conveys a competitive advantage," said study co-author and plastic surgeon Dr. Lisa Ishii. More than 220,000 "nose reshaping" procedures — known as rhinoplasty — were performed in the United States in 2016, up 2 percent from the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The procedures are nearly as common as liposuction. The new study examines how "casual observers" perceive people after they've had a nose job, said Ishii, a plastic surgeon and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. "Patients seeking rhinoplasty do so for two main reasons: to improve their self-perception and to improve how others perceive them," she said. "We wanted to measure the second one." The researchers recruited 473 people online to evaluate the appearance of 13 rhinoplasty patients. Observers ranged in age from 18 to 73. Most were female and white, and highly educated. The researchers deemed the patients' post-op results "optimal." They showed the observers photos taken before the nose reshaping and at least 6 months after. But they didn't reveal whether they were "before" or "after" images, and the observers never saw more than one picture of the same patient. The patients were mostly female, with an average age of 34. Most "had nose problems that were visible to the casual observer and they wanted to look better," Ishii said. She added that a prior study showed that the casual observer "actually picks up on even subtle nasal deformities." Her team asked the observers to rate patients in terms of attractiveness, success level and overall health based on their photos. On a scale of 1 to 100, the average patient's attractiveness rating improved by 14 points after remodeling, the researchers found. Ratings of success and health rose 9 and 10 points, respectively, after surgery. Ishii called the degree of improvement significant, and said this gives patients information about how nose jobs may affect them. "More attractive people are more successful," she said. "It's up to patients to decide whether that's worth it to them." Insurers don't usually cover nose jobs, however. The cost can range from $6,000 to $25,000 "depending on the complexity of the procedure and the reputation of the surgeon," said plastic surgeon Dr. Clinton Humphrey. He's an associate professor with the University of Kansas Health System. "It is important not to misinterpret these study results," cautioned Humphrey, co-author of a commentary accompanying the new research. "This study included only patients with what were judged by surgeons to be 'ideal' results. Rhinoplasty continues to be one of the most challenging cosmetic surgical procedures," he said. "While I always strive to achieve the best possible outcome in every one of my rhinoplasty patients, I do not achieve an 'ideal' result every time," Humphrey said. "It would be a mistake to read this study and conclude that every patient who undergoes rhinoplasty can expect to be perceived as more successful, healthier, and more attractive," he added. Still, he said, "patients should feel reassured that what we as rhinoplasty surgeons consider to be 'ideal' results are also viewed very favorably by the average person," Humphrey said. "As a surgeon, this study tells me that when I execute a successful rhinoplasty, I have an opportunity to positively impact my patient in a really significant way." The study appears Oct. 19 in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. More information For more about nose jobs, visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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Could Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Men’s Hearts?

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) — When it comes to exercise, can you get too much of a good thing? Possibly, suggests a new study that found white men who exercise more than seven hours a week have an 86 percent higher risk of developing plaque build-up in their arteries. No such elevated risk was seen among either black men or women. Plaque build-up is a critical warning sign for possible future heart disease risk. "We were surprised by the finding, mainly because we essentially think of exercise as medicine. And we've never thought of exercise as perhaps having an upper limit in terms of its cardiovascular benefit," said study author Deepika Laddu. She's an assistant professor of physical therapy at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But Laddu doesn't want any men to hang up their running shoes just yet, because there are many questions that remain to be answered. "What we saw is only an association, and we cannot say that high physical activity actually causes plaque build-up in white men," she noted. "And we certainly do not mean to say that exercise is bad for you. In fact, it could perhaps be that white men already face a higher than average risk for plaque build-up than other men, and that exercise actually prevents this plaque from rupturing, which is when things get bad. We just don't know," Laddu explained. "Much more research will be needed to understand what is really going on." At least one other expert agreed this doesn't mean people should stop exercising. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the findings do not instantly wash away the "balance of data [that] suggest that higher levels of leisure time and total physical activity are associated with lower risk cardiovascular events." "However, it should be recognized that exercise alone cannot overcome other cardiovascular risk factors," he added. "And it is vital to maintain health levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight, as well as not smoke, even if one is engaging in regular rigorous physical activity." To explore how exercise might impact heart health over time, the investigators recruited nearly 3,200 white and black men and women. All enrolled when they were between the ages of 18 and 30, and all resided in one of four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis or Oakland. The researchers followed the study volunteers from 1985 to 2011. During that time, participants self-reported their physical activity routines and showed up for at least three follow-up exams, which included CT scans to measure plaque build-up. Current U.S. physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Participants were sorted into three groups, depending on average exercise levels. One group exercised below the guidelines level. Another group met the guidelines, and a final group exercised three times more than the guideline level. "We had 25 years of exercise patterns that we could look at, in individuals who started out as being young adults up through middle-age," Laddu said. In the end, the study team found that overall — when pooling race and gender — those who were among the most frequent exercisers were 27 percent more likely to develop plaque build-up by the time they had reached middle age. But after breaking the numbers down further, the authors determined that only high-exercising white men faced a greater risk for developing plaque build-up then their low-exercising peers. "But again, we can't say physical activity is causing plaque build-up," Laddu reiterated. She also acknowledged the study had limitations. For one, she noted that very few of the high exercisers were black, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. "And we really have no idea yet what may be biologically at play that might lead to differences in the way exercise affects [plaque build-up] in some people and not others," Laddu added. "But what I can say is that maybe this study indicates that doctors should not assume that their patients are healthy simply because they check off the exercise box," she said. "Maybe there are other things that they need to look at when considering a patient's overall medical profile." The study was published Oct. 16 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. More information There's more information on exercise and heart health at American Heart Association. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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Gene Therapy Approved for B-Cell Lymphoma

THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) –Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the first form of gene therapy for a non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) form of cancer. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common form of this immune system cancer in adults, the agency said in a news release. Some 72,000 cases of NHL are diagnosed each year in the United States, and the Diffuse large-B cell form represents about a third of these cases, the FDA added. This is only the second form of gene therapy approved by the FDA. The technique uses cells from the patient's own immune system to create a custom treatment to help fight the cancer. In this case, the patient's white blood cells called T-cells are modified to include a new gene that targets and kills lymphoma cells, then re-infused back into the patient. "In just several decades, gene therapy has gone from being a promising concept to a practical solution to deadly and largely untreatable forms of cancer," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. "We remain committed to supporting the efficient development of safe and effective treatments that leverage these new scientific platforms." Yescarta is approved for adults for whom at least two other types of treatment have failed. The therapy was evaluated in clinical studies involving more than 100 adults. Slightly more than half of people given the therapy ended up in "complete remission," the FDA said. The therapy includes a boxed warning of a heightened risk of high fever, flu-like symptoms and life-threatening neurologic symptoms, the FDA said. Patients must be informed of these risks before receiving the therapy. Other potential side effects include serious infections, low blood-cell counts and a weakened immune system. Hospitals that provide the therapy will have to be specially certified, the FDA said. The therapy is produced by Los Angeles-based Kite Pharma Inc., which as a condition of approval must conduct studies of the therapy's long-term effects, the agency said. More information Visit the FDA to learn more. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article [contf] [contfnew] [hhm]Health[hhmc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

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More Young Kids Spending Lots of Time on Phones, Tablets

Survey finds big jump over past 6 years in media availability, use for youngest Americans THURSDAY, Oct. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — In recent years, young American children have gone from spending 5 minutes a day on some sort of mobile device to spending 48 minutes a day doing so, new research shows. And while just 1 percent of kids aged 8 and under had their own tablet device six years ago, 42 percent of them now have one, according to the study from the nonprofit group Common Sense Media. "Over the last six years, we have seen massive growth in media use and tablet ownership, and we haven't even begun to experience the explosion of new technologies like virtual reality and voice-activated assistants in our homes," James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, said in a news release. The report is based on survey responses from a nationally representative sampling of nearly 1,500 U.S. parents of kids aged 8 or younger, questioned early in 2017. Among the survey's findings: Nearly all U.S. families (95 percent) have a smartphone, up from 41 percent in 2011, and 78 percent own at least one tablet, up from 8 percent in 2011. Even though pediatricians recommend against it, nearly half of young kids often or sometimes watch TV or play video games in the hour before their bedtime. About 10 percent of young kids has a "smart" toy that connects to the internet, while 9 percent have a voice-activated virtual assistant device in the home, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Divisions in mobile technology use by family income are also fading. For example, because most lower-income families now own at least one smartphone, there's almost no difference in uptake of the technology between higher- and lower-income households, the survey found. In fact, kids in lower-income homes, or homes with less-educated parents, actually spend more time now viewing "screen media" than their more affluent or educated peers, the research showed. The rate at which poorer families in the United States have acquired mobile or tablet devices, and downloaded apps, has also risen sharply over the past six years. "It is promising to see many of the gaps closing when it comes to access to technology and devices among all segments of our population," Steyer said. "Technology is integral to success in our world, and every child deserves access to it. Over the last several years, we have seen the digital divide and app gap closing, which is a very positive development for our country." But he stressed that technologies can also have a downside. "If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks — and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives," Steyer said. More information There's more on the role of media in kids' lives at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Let's block ads! (Why?) Original Article

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