Developing Brains at High Risk from Early Alcohol Use

Guest blog by Brenda Patoine

Underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the United States. While rates of underage drinking have declined steadily in the past decade or so, the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that among US youth 12 to 20 years old surveyed about their alcohol use in the past 30 days, 20% reported drinking alcohol and 13% reported binge drinking. Adolescents account for approximately 11 percent of total alcohol consumption in the U.S., according to a CDC fact sheet on underage drinking.

Because the teenage brain is at a highly vulnerable stage of development, early drinking may set the stage for later alcohol abuse.  The frontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until around age 25, and emerging data suggest that this executive area of the brain is particularly susceptible to damage from alcohol use during adolescence.

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National Health Education Week

This week, join the celebration for National Health Education Week (October 16-20)! The weeklong campaign, sponsored by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), first began in 1995 as an effort to direct national attention towards public health issues and promote a general understanding of the role health education plays in our everyday lives.

Not sure where to start? Each day this week, SOPHE is providing a series of themed events online and on social media to open up discussions on health education, community events, and the impact of advocacy. Public participation is encouraged, and don’t forget to use #NHEW.

As another organization committed to educating the public about brain health and the latest in scientific research, the Dana Foundation offers a vast amount of free, lay-friendly publications and resources year-round, encouraging people of all ages to better understand the brain.

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Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of contributions from people from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As part of our global outreach about brain science and health, we have a number of resources for adults and kids available in Spanish, now conveniently available on one page.

You’ll find the Spanish language version of our award-winning PSA video on how to live a brain healthy life, and the four steps to keep your brain working well as you grow older. We also have the Successful Aging & Your Brain booklet available to download for free in Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. For more on that topic, you can watch a recap of our March 2017 Healthy Brain in a Healthy Body event, where we partnered with Telemundo.

We also offer downloadable materials, such as fact sheets and Q&A pages, for kids in grades K-12. These can all be found on our page dedicated to Spanish publications.

For more on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/.

– Blayne Jeffries

Brain Awareness Week 2017 in Photos

Iran

A lecture demonstrating stereotaxic surgery on a rat, organized by Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Iran.

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) has come and gone and now is the time to reflect on the success and reach of BAW partners’ efforts. Impressively, there are more than 800 events on the BAW Calendar of Events! Perhaps the best way to see the success of the campaign is to check out the BAW Photo Gallery.

Virginia

Minds games at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s Brain School.

The photo gallery reflects the international nature of BAW, a global campaign with more than half of the events during the week occurring outside the US. From Germany to Australia, Brazil to Nigeria, Canada to Spain, partners coordinated events from all reaches of the globe. For BAW 2017, there were events in 40 countries and 46 US states!

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April is National Minority Health Month!

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Older black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias than older white Americans, the Alzheimer’s Association revealed in their 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. “Genetic factors do not appear to account for the large prevalence differences among racial groups,” the report stated. Instead, “variations in health, lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors across racial groups most likely account for most of the differences in risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias by race.”

April is National Minority Health Month, a time to recognize disparities in health such as the increased prevalence of dementia, diabetes, and stroke in minorities. The theme for 2017 is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities,” which aims to emphasize the importance of our communities in moving towards equal opportunities for maximum health, or health equity. Want to take action? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health recommends four steps to get started:

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