"Choking game" can lead to more risky behaviors in kids, study finds

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(CBS News) Strangling oneself or one another for the sake of achieving a "high" remains a popular activity among kids these days. According to the latest study of the "choking game," which has been around for decades, 6 percent of eighth graders have played the game - and of those who have played the game, 64 percent played more than once, and almost 27 percent of participants have played the game more than 5 times.


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The "game" cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain, using a belt, rope, or other item. The result of this risky behavior is a temporary euphoric feeling. The study, published in the April 16 edition of Pediatrics, examined whether playing the game could lead to even more risky behaviors.

Researchers used data from the 2009 Oregon Healthy Teens survey to study the behaviors of more than 5,400 eighth graders. In addition to the choking game, researchers found that participants were more likely to participate in other risky behaviors.

For instance, girls who participated in the game were also more likely to gamble and have poor nutrition. Male participants were more likely to be exposed to violence. And both genders were more likely to report being sexually active and or likely to abuse substances  if they play the choking game.

What can parents do to stop their kids from getting involved in such risky behaviors? According to Dr. Dennis Woo, a staff pediatrician at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, parents should be aware that 13 is the age youth transition into adulthood and are most likely to change their behaviors. Woo says to be alert to any changes in their kids' behavior, telling HealthDay that "it's still OK to have an open door policy." To more laid-back parents, Woo says, "You really do want to be vigilant because some of the behaviors can have tragic consequences."

The study did not look at mortality rates from the choking game, but CDC data from 1995 to 2007 identified 82 possible deaths from the game.

Although the game has been around for years, experts say increasing awareness of the game is important because adults - including doctors and parents - can look for signs of the behavior, such as red marks on the throat.

The choking game isn't the only dangerous challenge kids are participating in. .

  • Monica DyBuncio

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