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Parents and Teens Creating an Adolescent Health Partnership Part I:

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Parenting TeenagersBy: Michael R. Berman, M.D.

Being the parent of a teenager brings adventure, fun and challenges. This month I would like to begin a two part series briefly exploring some information about important health concerns for teens. I have chosen to do this in the form of an outline as I would like to make mention on as many of these concerns as possible. Further information about Teen and Adolescent Health should be obtained from your child's Pediatrician or Family Health Provider.

I. Leading concerns that parents and teens must confront are:

Body Changes and Hormones
Menstruation
Smoking
Drinking
Drugs
Safety and Driving
Depression
Nutrition
Exercise
Friendship
Dating and relationships
Sex and Sexuality
Videos, TV and Computers
Gambling
Peer pressure

II. Leading health indicators for adolescents include:

Tobacco Use
Substance Abuse
Mental Health
Injury and Violence


Tobacco Use
Smoking, which is often initiated during the adolescent years, is the single most preventable risk factor for the leading causes of death including heart disease and cancer. Despite these negative consequences, estimates indicate that 6,000 adolescents will experiment with smoking and 3,000 persons younger than 18 years will become daily smokers each day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000).


Substance Abuse
Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance during adolescence. Alcohol use can contribute to many negative consequences for teenagers because of its association with motor vehicle crashes, injuries, deaths, problems in school and the workplace, fighting, and crime (MacKay, Fingerhut, Duran, 2000). In 1998, 19% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 years stated that they had drunk alcohol in the past month (Healthy People 2010). In 1999, half of high school students reported drinking in the previous 30 days (48% of female students and 52% of male students). In addition to using alcohol, some adolescents also experiment with illicit drugs. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among high school students. In 1998,10% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported using illicit drugs in the past 30
days (Healthy People 2010). In 1999, 47% of high school students had used marijuana during their lifetime and 27 percent had used marijuana one or more times in the
past 30 days. Marijuana use has increased between 1990 and 1999 among high school students.
Source: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), SAMHSA


Mental Health
Adolescence is a developmental period during which many changes take place. Some
teenagers experience adolescence as stressful and they may experience feelings of hopelessness. These feelings could be a precursor to suicide or suicidal ideation. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents.


Injury and Violence
The death rate for adolescents ages 15-24 years has decreased since 1980 (115.4 per
100,000), but remained at 82.3 per 100,000 in 1998. Several factors contribute to the
cause of death for this age group. These factors include unintentional injury (i.e. motor
vehicle crashes), which is the leading cause of death, followed by homicide and suicide.


Next Month: Leading health indicators for adolescents Part II:
Immunizations
Physical Activity
Overweight and Obesity
Responsible Sexual Behavior

Related Topics
10 Tips for Parents
Health Indicators for Adolescents Part1
Health Indicators for Adolescents Part2
Having The Conversation(about pot smoking)
Safe Havens for Babies
Teen Parents Bulletin Board
Teen Pregnancy Web Links

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