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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Home Health Kids Tackling the issues of teen health

Tackling the issues of teen health

Teen healthBy Kimberly Marselas

For years, nervous children sit on their mom’s lap or squeeze dad’s hand during routine office visits and vaccinations at the pediatrician. But once the teen years hit, health issues become more complicated and mom and dad often find themselves left in the waiting room.

Drug use, eating disorders and sexual activity are some of the issues that crop up during the adolescent years, doctors say. At this stage, parents may choose to stay with their pediatrician or turn to a general practitioner to treat their teen’s medical needs. There are also specialists such as gynecologists and dermatologists who are better able to treat new teenage health issues.

By working with doctors trained to deal with teenagers, parents can help their teens navigate health crises, weed out misinformation and make their way safely into adulthood.

Dr. Debbie Gage, a pediatrician with Crofton Pediatrics, sees patients into their early 20s but often changes her protocol when they turn 14. At this point, the need for privacy often overrides the desire for comfort, she says, so she begins asking parents to step out of the exam room to give her time alone with the patient.

“I tell parents it is for a time to ask questions and get honest answers,” Gage explains. “We talk about puberty issues, peer pressure — alcohol, cigarette use — and sexual activity. I screen them for concerns, and they have the opportunity to ask me whatever they want.”

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