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Young Risk-Takers Drawn to Dangerous 'Choking Game'
Date:4/16/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- In a new study, about 6 percent of eighth graders admitted they had participated in the "choking game," in which blood and oxygen to the brain are cut off with a rope or belt to produce a euphoric "high."

What's more, the researchers found that two-thirds of those kids had played the dangerous game multiple times and many practiced other risky behaviors.

"If kids do participate, they are likely to do it more than once," said lead researcher Robert Nystrom, adolescent health manager at the Oregon Public Health Division in Portland. Of the 6.1 percent who admitted to trying the game, about two-thirds had done so more than once and nearly 27 percent had done it more than five times.

The study is published online April 16 in the journal Pediatrics.

Nystrom's team did not gather data on deaths, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 82 children died from the activity in the years 1995 through 2007.

Those who play the game, also called Knock Out, Space Monkey, Flatlining or the Fainting Game, can lose consciousness within seconds, according to the CDC. Within three minutes of continued strangulation, such as hanging, basic body functions such as memory, balance and the central nervous system can fail. Death can occur shortly after, according to the CDC.

For the new survey, Nystrom and his colleagues obtained data from the 2009 Oregon Healthy Teens survey. It included nearly 5,400 eighth graders -- ages 12 to 15 -- who answered questions about the choking game as well as questions about their physical health, sexual activity, exercise, nutrition, body image, substance abuse and exposure to violence.

"Males and females seem to participate equally [in the game]," Nystrom said.

Those who did participate tended to engage in other risky behaviors, Nystrom's team found. They were
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