New survey reveals top summer health concerns
National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) launches campaign to educate parentsCHICAGO, IL, – As schools break for summer, most teens look forward to staying up late, sleeping in, and having their first jobs, while their parents may worry about common summer health risks. In fact, a new survey supported by the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) reveals that one in four parents of young teens are extremely or very concerned about their young teen's health during the summer months. Notably, heat exhaustion is the top health concern for 35 percent of parents and 75 percent will insist that their young teens wear sunscreen to ensure their child has a safe and healthy summer. In addition, almost 30 percent of parents believe it is extremely or very important to take their adolescents to the doctor for a summer health visit and almost two out of three believe it is extremely important for their young teens to get vaccinated against infectious diseases. To help educate parents about how to keep their young teens happy, healthy and active over the summer, the National PTA today launched the campaign "Summer Break – What's at Stake?" Parents and caregivers are encouraged to visit www.pta.org to obtain useful information about summer health.
"PTA is dedicated to ensuring that children stay healthy and productive not only in school but also over summer break," said Anna Weselak, president, National PTA. "It's clear from the survey results that parents are aware that certain health and lifestyle risks may pose a threat to their young teens. We encourage parents across the nation to take an active role in preparing their children for the great summer they deserve."
According to the survey, 92 percent of parents plan to maintain open communication with their children to ensure that they have a safe summer. In fact, online safety is a top summer safety concern for parents of young adolescents and 41 percent are extremely or very concerned about proper decision-making in an unsafe situation. In addition, the survey revealed that one-third of parents agree that it is important for their young adolescents to have a summer job, to learn work ethic and responsibility.
Survey data was collected online between March 20, 2006 – March 23, 2006, with a nationally representative sample of 542 parents of children ages 10 - 13 years. GlaxoSmithKline has provided funding and other support to the National PTA for the survey and the "Summer Break: What's at Stake?" campaign.
Summer Health Survey Findings
From a health perspective, 95 percent of parents want their young teens to be active and fit and 81 percent plan to provide their child with healthy food choices this summer. Despite the increase in the incidence of infectious diseases in teens in the United States, only one in five parents are extremely or very concerned that their young teens will be exposed to an infectious disease over the summer. In fact, only 12 percent of parents are extremely or very concerned about their young teens contracting pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) over the summer. Pertussis is the only vaccine-preventable disease on the rise among teens in the U.S. A highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory system, pertussis can cause spasms of severe coughing. Young teens often do not display the classic signs and symptoms of pertussis and may go undiagnosed. They are often the source of infection for family members and others.
Pertussis should be of particular concern for parents of young teens, as childhood immunization against pertussis begins to wear off five to 10 years after the last routine vaccination shot, typically administered when children are between four and six years old. Because of this waning level of protection, many teens are vulnerable to this serious disease. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended universal Tdap [Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine, Adsorbed] booster vaccination for teens.
Once made aware of the dangers of pertussis outbreaks, 92 percent of parents surveyed agree that young teens should receive a pertussis booster vaccination. The good news is that in 2005 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved booster vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis for use in adolescents.
"I am pleased that parents see the importance of taking their child to the doctor for a pre-summer check-up to help ensure a healthy summer," said Weselak. "The 'Summer Break – What's at Stake?' campaign will help parents learn more about serious conditions, like whooping cough, so that we keep our children healthy and avoid outbreaks over the summer."
About National PTA
With nearly 6 million members, National PTA is the largest volunteer parent organization in the United States. Since its founding in 1897, National PTA has prided itself on being a powerful voice for children, a relevant resource for parents, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in National PTA is open to anyone who is concerned with the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information about National PTA, visit www.pta.org.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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