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Briefs: Children's vaccinations are given free at Oakland clinic

| Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade must be up-to-date with vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Also, children in kindergarten, first and seventh grades must be vaccinated against hepatitis B and chicken pox, or must have a history of chicken pox.

The meningococcal vaccine, which prevents a sometimes deadly form of meningitis, is required when college students live on campus in Pennsylvania.

Required vaccines for children in kindergarten through 12th grade are available free of charge at the Health Department's vaccination clinic, 3441 Forbes Ave., Oakland. The clinic charges $96 for the meningococcal vaccine. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 1-8 p.m. Wednesday. No appointment is necessary. Bring your child's immunization records to the clinic.

Program focuses on teens, young adults with cancer

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh oncologists have established an Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program to specifically treat teens and young adults, ages 15 to 21, who have cancer.

Published scientific research shows that adolescents and young adults -- especially those who have types of cancers more common in children -- have better survival rates when they receive care from pediatric oncologists than when they are treated by adult oncologists.

The program, under the direction of Dr. Peter Shaw, combines the latest treatment options with a comprehensive approach that addresses physical, psychological and emotional needs. Patients are treated by pediatric oncologists in collaboration with adult oncologists.

Details: www.chp.edu .

Food portions seen as key to curbing obesity

Food portions in America's restaurants have doubled or tripled during the past 20 years, which is contributing to an increase in obesity among children and adults.

Ways to Enhance Children's Activities and Nutrition (We Can!) is a new program from the National Institutes of Health, which assists parents in helping their children maintain a healthy weight through smaller portions, better food choices and increased physical activity.

Details: wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov .

Tips for Discussing Alcohol With College Students

With millions of college students preparing to leave home for the campus, Distilled Spirits Council President Peter Cressy, a former college president and university chancellor, urges parents to talk with their sons and daughters about drinking.

"During these remaining days of summer, while families are together, parents should take time to talk to their college-bound students about drinking," Cressy says. "Invest this time to ensure they make responsible decisions. Even though many college students no longer live at home, the research shows parents have the most influence over their son's or daughter's decision to drink or not to drink."

According to the federal government's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the best way to influence your son or daughter to avoid drinking is to have a strong, trusting relationship with him or her.

Data from the National Academy of Sciences, the Federal Trade Commission and other institutions, show most youths who drink obtain alcohol primarily through noncommercial sources such as parents, family, friends and other adults older than 21.

Cressy offers parents the following tips for discussing alcohol with their college-age young adults:

  • Be clear in your expectations about your son's or daughter's decisions about drinking.

    If your children are younger than 21, tell them you expect them to obey the law and not drink. If your children are 21 or older, tell them you expect them to drink responsibly and in moderation, if they choose to drink at all.

  • Talk about alcohol facts, reasons not to drink and ways to avoid drinking in difficult situations.

  • Address how to get help on campus for themselves or a friend.

  • Keep in close contact to determine if your son or daughter is feeling overwhelmed, making friends, getting involved with activities and enjoying classes.

  • Make sure they know you are there to support and help them through this transition period.

Parents can download the brochure "Parents, you're not done yet," which was developed by the distilled spirits industry's not-for-profit The Century Council, an organization that fights underage drinking and drunk driving. That group's Web site is www.centurycouncil.org .

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