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Many Doctors Unaware of Deadly 'Choking Game'
Date:12/14/2009

Dozens of teens have died trying to achieve euphoric state, experts warn

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Almost a third of U.S. doctors have never heard of the "choking game" played by many teens, nor can they spot the tell-tale signs of the potentially lethal past-time.

Also known as the "blackout game," "pass-out game," "scarf game" and "space monkey," among other monikers, the activity involves intentionally trying to strangle oneself or another, using hands or some sort of noose to briefly achieve an euphoric state.

The "game" can also cause seizures, headaches, bone breaks and brain injury -- if not death.

A survey in the January issue of Pediatrics, which was published online Dec. 14, reports that almost one-third of family doctors and pediatrics are unaware of the "game." And although two-thirds of physicians said the issue should be discussed during office visits, only 2 percent reported actually having done so.

"Myself having seen three to four kids affected by this, it seems to me if it's preventable and it causes death, it should be talked about," said Dr. Nancy Bass, senior author of the paper and an associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

Bass had not heard of the game at the time she saw her first choking-game patient, she said.

"There needs to be a more standardized approach to education [of doctors]," said study first author Dr. Julie McClave, a pediatric resident at Rainbow Babies. "Hopefully by giving more information about warning signs and how prevalent this is in adolescents, more physicians will be aware."

According to McClave, warning signs parents and physicians should be aware of include bruise marks or red marks around the neck; severe frequent headaches; blood vessel breaks on the face or eyes; red eyes; aggressive behavior or a
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