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Health indicators for adolescents

Creating an Adolescent Health Partnership Part II:

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teen health

By: By: Michael R. Berman, M.D.

This month concludes the two part series, Parents and Teens - Creating an Adolescent Health Partnership. Further information about Teen and Adolescent Health should be obtained from your child's Pediatrician or Family Health Provider.

Immunizations for Adolescents

Many parents think immunizations are only for young children. However, Adolescents need immunizations and boosters as well...

Specifically, against hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), tetanus, diphtheria, and chickenpox (varicella).

Some may need vaccinations against hepatitis A, flu (influenza), and pneumococcal disease; children who are debilitated or have chronic diseases in particular.

Hepatitis B vaccine is indicated for all adolescents aged 8-18 who have not been vaccinated as a younger child.

Adolescents not previously vaccinated with 2 doses of MMR vaccine at age 12 months or older require a second dose.

Older Teens especially those who will be going to camps or colleges should consider menigococcal vaccine. College students living in dormitories are at higher risk for meningococcal disease. There is evidence that college freshmen living in dormitories are at six times the risk of other college students for contracting meningococcal disease, a rare but sometimes fatal medical condition. Meningococcal disease annually affects about 125 of the over 15 million students attending U.S. colleges and universities and is responsible for about 5 to 15 deaths each year in this population. The American College Health Association (ACHA) believes that the vaccine is appropriate for college students age 25 years and younger.

Physical Activity and Obesity

An increasingly amount of diseases, such as high blood pressure, clogged arteries, heart problems, and type-2 diabetes are being found in children with obesity. Most likely these overweight children will turn into overweight adults. The Report of the Surgeon General on Physical Activity and Health (USDHHS, 1996) emphasized that regular physical activity has important health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, and helping to treat and prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and to prevent osteoporosis and colon cancer. In addition, physical activity helps control weight, reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, and promotes psychological well-being.

15% of the nation's children and teenagers are considered overweight.

To some extent, the blame has been placed on the children's appetites, but other factors include parents influence, fast-food restaurants, a "fast-paced" society, and schools that neglect their students' health. In 2001, only a third of high school students went to a daily gym class.

Sexual Behavior

It has been estimated that in the United States, 45 percent of high school students and 79 percent of college students have had sex.

Sex education has become a standard part of the curriculum of schools throughout America. The goal is to teach teenagers to practice "safe sex" -- that is, to use condoms or other birth control devices and so reduces the chance that they will become pregnant or become infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Abstinence education from Teens themselves is also very important. Despite recent declines, 4 out of 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once by age 20. Many teens say they are concerned about pregnancy, but still think "it can't happen to me".

Yet each year one million teen-age girls get pregnant.

There are nearly 1,000,000 Teens who become pregnant each year.

Two to four million teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease each year-that is every day, 8,000 teens will become infected with a new STD. Teens are five times more likely to get herpes today than in 1970. And nearly half of those infected with Chlamydia and Gonorrhea this year will be teenagers. If left untreated, Chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID which can leave women infertile. The Human Papilloma Virus, better known as HPV, is the most prevalent STD. HPV is responsible for 99.7 percent of all cervical cancers and kills nearly 5,000 women each year. Forty-six percent of teenage girls will contract HPV after their first sexual intercourse. And recent studies show condoms are not effective in preventing the spread of HPV.

Teens need Sex Education and the availability of professionals to help them sort this out. Consideration must center around STD Prevention, abstinence education, teen pregnancy prevention, adolescent sexual health, and male responsibility. An excellent resource for parents and teens can be found at Campaign for Our Children, Baltimore, Maryland.



Robyn's Nest 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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