The teenage years are prime time for experimenting with risky behaviors. One might assume that for teens growing up with a chronic disease like diabetes or cystic fibrosis, that wouldn’t be the case since alcohol can cause very serious problems for these kids.
But if Boston Children’s Hospital’s Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, and Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, are right, that assumption could be completely wrong. According to a recent study the pair published in Pediatrics, chronically ill teens do exhibit risks for alcohol and marijuana use, and at levels similar to those reported for healthy youth. Those behaviors carry all the usual risks related to teen substance use (e.g., accident, injury), as well as unique risks related to their condition and its treatment.
Their study represents one of the first forays into understanding how chronically ill teens navigate the experience of growing up.
“Unprecedented numbers of young people are growing up with a chronic disease,” says Weitzman, who works in the hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. “But by and large, while there are studies of chronic disease and studies of teen risk behaviors, little has been done to understand teen risk behaviors in the context of chronic disease.” …Read More