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My Teens Health

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The Annual Checkup

Health experts recommend an annual checkup to keep your teen on the road to good health. This visit provides medical services and counseling, as well as a chance for your teen to get to know, and begin developing a trusting relationship with, his or her health care provider.

A number of important topics may be covered during your teen's annual checkup. It's also an opportunity for you and your teen to bring up any health topics you think are important.

 

Download a printable version of this checklist
of important parts of the teen annual visit.

Height, Weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI)

Why they're important

All adolescents should receive health guidance annually about dietary habits, including ways to achieve a healthy diet and safe weight management. Your health care provider will address any potential red flags around your teen's weight or diet. If you, your teen, or your health care provider identify weight, height, or BMI issues, the annual checkup provides an opportunity to discuss and decide if there is an appropriate course of action.

Health care providers use BMI, calculated using height and weight, to help assess body fat. It's important to remember that what's considered a "healthy" BMI is based on age and gender.

All adolescents should receive health guidance annually about dietary habits, including ways to achieve a healthy diet and safe weight management. Your health care provider will address any potential red flags around your teen's weight or diet. If you, your teen, or your health care provider identify weight, height, or BMI issues, the annual checkup provides an opportunity to discuss and decide if there is an appropriate course of action.

Health care providers use BMI, calculated using height and weight, to help assess body fat. It's important to remember that what's considered a "healthy" BMI is based on age and gender.

Immunizations

Why they're important

Parents can help ensure that their teen's immunizations are up-to-date. Over the years, vaccinations have helped eliminate or reduce the threat of many vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, and tetanus.

Your teen's checkup is an excellent opportunity to discuss with his or her health care provider the recommended vaccination schedule, especially when it comes to vaccines specific to teens. These include those for the prevention of infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningococcal meningitis.

Parents can help ensure that their teen's immunizations are up-to-date. Over the years, vaccinations have helped eliminate or reduce the threat of many vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, and tetanus.

Your teen's checkup is an excellent opportunity to discuss with his or her health care provider the recommended vaccination schedule, especially when it comes to vaccines specific to teens. These include those for the prevention of infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningococcal meningitis.

Skin Care

Why it's important

Discussion of skin care and a skin exam are part of an annual visit. More than half of your child's lifetime exposure to damaging UV (ultraviolet) rays will happen during his or her adolescent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a history of one or more sunburns in adolescence or childhood increases the risk of certain types of skin cancer as an adult.

Discussion of skin care and a skin exam are part of an annual visit. More than half of your child's lifetime exposure to damaging UV (ultraviolet) rays will happen during his or her adolescent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a history of one or more sunburns in adolescence or childhood increases the risk of certain types of skin cancer as an adult.

Sexual Health

Why it's important

In addition to talking about sexual health one-on-one with your teen, all adolescents should receive individualized guidance regarding responsible sexual behaviors annually, as appropriate, from health care providers. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity.

Your teen's sexual behaviors can have both short- and long-term impacts on his or her health and well-being. Health care providers can offer guidance and assistance to help your teen understand sexual development milestones, and they can encourage healthy behaviors to promote a safe sexual health transition into adulthood.

In addition to talking about sexual health one-on-one with your teen, all adolescents should receive individualized guidance regarding responsible sexual behaviors annually, as appropriate, from health care providers. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity.

Your teen's sexual behaviors can have both short- and long-term impacts on his or her health and well-being. Health care providers can offer guidance and assistance to help your teen understand sexual development milestones, and they can encourage healthy behaviors to promote a safe sexual health transition into adulthood.

Blood Pressure

Why it's important

Your teen’s blood pressure is taken and discussed at the annual checkup. According to the Mayo Clinic, children who have high blood pressure are likely to continue to have high blood pressure as adults unless they begin treatment. If high blood pressure does continue into adulthood, your teen could be at risk for several complications, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease.

If high blood pressure is diagnosed, your teen's health care provider can help manage the condition to help reduce the risk for future health issues.

Your teen’s blood pressure is taken and discussed at the annual checkup. According to the Mayo Clinic, children who have high blood pressure are likely to continue to have high blood pressure as adults unless they begin treatment. If high blood pressure does continue into adulthood, your teen could be at risk for several complications, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease.

If high blood pressure is diagnosed, your teen's health care provider can help manage the condition to help reduce the risk for future health issues.

Additional Screenings

Why they're important

As the parent, if you have any questions about the screenings your teen is receiving, be sure to ask!

Not all of the following screenings will occur annually. Your teen's health care provider should be able to answer any questions on when and how often certain screenings should occur.

  • Vision
  • Cholesterol and other lipids (fats in the blood)
  • Hearing
  • Anemia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV)*
  • Pregnancy*
  • Cervical dysplasia (PAP smear)*
  • Alcohol or drug use

*May be screened if your teen is sexually active.

As the parent, if you have any questions about the screenings your teen is receiving, be sure to ask!

Not all of the following screenings will occur annually. Your teen's health care provider should be able to answer any questions on when and how often certain screenings should occur.

  • Vision
  • Cholesterol and other lipids (fats in the blood)
  • Hearing
  • Anemia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV)*
  • Pregnancy*
  • Cervical dysplasia (PAP smear)*
  • Alcohol or drug use

*May be screened if your teen is sexually active.