Adolescent health

Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

During adolescence, the brain grows and changes in crucial ways and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with brain development processes and cause long-lasting effects.

The health effects of too much gaming

While playing video games can be a fun pastime, and there are some potential benefits, there are health risks associated with too much gaming. They include repetitive stress injuries, vision problems, sleep deprivation, depression, and possibly addiction to playing.

Magnets, sound, and batteries: Choosing safe toys

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When choosing gifts for the children in your life this year, there are toy you should consider — creativity, imagination, and movement should be encouraged — and toys you should try to avoid due to safety concerns or for other reasons.

Gender fluidity: What it means and why support matters

Gender fluidity refers to changes over time in gender identity and gender expression. For many people, gender identity and expression develop early and stay the same; for others, one or both may change. Understanding and supporting young people exploring gender is important to their emotional and physical well-being.

College student coming home? What to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Due to the pandemic, many college students are coming home at Thanksgiving for an extended winter break. Having anyone reenter your household as COVID-19 cases rise across the US is challenging, and requires thought and planning to keep everyone safe — and sane. Here’s what families need to think about.

Birth control and high blood pressure: Which methods are safe for you?

Huma Farid, MD

Contributor

Doctors typically recommend that women who have high blood pressure avoid using birth control that contains estrogen to avoid raising risks for a stroke or heart attack. According to a clinical update, this recommendation may be changing for some women with high blood pressure.

Defusing the “Benadryl challenge”: Discussing danger with teens

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Viral challenges encourage risky behavior in teens with potentially serious consequences. The reasons teens do things like this are rooted in the development process of the adolescent brain, and adults need to understand why such challenges appeal to teens in order to talk to them about why they aren’t safe.

Talking to your doctor about an abusive relationship

Intimate partner violence can occur between people of any gender or sexual orientation. Abuse can leave people feeling isolated, confused, or hopeless, and talking to a health professional is one way to get help in the form of medical treatment or access to appropriate services.

Cultivating joy as a family

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but particularly for families. Everyone is feeling so much uncertainty and stress, but one thing we can do is look for ways to create small moments of joy every day. Games, activities, creativity, being outdoors — there are simple, fun ways to be together and make memories.

Advancing maternal justice on both sides of the Atlantic

Inequities in maternal health caused by chronic systemic social injustice contribute directly to higher rates of maternal death among Black and indigenous people and people of color. Maternal justice is a model of culturally sensitive care that aims to dismantle inequities in maternity care and maximize maternal health and well-being.