Health Team

Teen health check-ups important but often neglected

Posted June 4, 2013

— From newborn screening to required school vaccinations, young children tend to get regular medical attention.

It's when they become teenagers that many of them miss key visits with their doctors.

Chapel Hill pediatrician Dr. Janelle Shumate says too many parents think that after their children get vaccinations at the age of 10 or 11, all is well unless they get sick.

But she says teenagers have needs, ranging from vaccines to lifestyle factors that should be addressed as well.

"We can protect your child against meningitis, and we really like to do that as they're entering middle school and then again before they go off to college," Shumate said.

Female adolescents also need to consider the HPV, or human papilloma virus, vaccine as well as a vaccine to help prevent hepatitis A.

Many teens do get sports physicals, which focus on muscular-skeletal and heart health, but they don't cover other aspects of health.

"It's not going to focus so much on those questions like, 'How are you coping with school?' and 'Do you have your vaccines up to date?'" Shumate said.

Shumate says she also wants to check on teens' diets and exercise habits as well as their mental statuses.

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  • Mom2two Jun 5, 2013

    I have made sure that my teenage girls had a "well physical" every year, and when they were 5th grade or so, I began suggesting that I leave the room in case she had any questions that she didn't want to ask in front of me. Just like wearing seatbelts, it is important to have a "habit" of taking care of herself (especially girls) and to develop a good, comfortable relationship with a doctor.