well child visits in Blacksburg vaWith school, youth groups, sports practices, and family events to coordinate, taking your teen to the doctor for a routine physical may be the last thing on your mind. When your little bundle of joy was fresh home from the hospital, trips to the pediatrician's office may have been higher on your to-do list, as you might have been more eager to make sure that every milestone was reached and every vaccine was dutifully given. Now that you're pretty sure your fifteen-year-old can roll from his back to his tummy, and that your thirteen-year-old can talk (or text) up a storm, as evidenced by your cell phone bill, it's often hard to find the reason why teen health screenings may be so important. Here are a few a reasons to consider reprioritizing the annual teen health check-up at New Beginnings Pediatrics in Blacksburg Va.
  1. Assess for potential health complications. Due to the rise of obesity and the associated health risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and high cholesterol that are becoming increasingly prevalent, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends universal testing of blood lipid levels at least once during the teenage years. Other lab tests may be ordered after a medical provider performs a risk assessment of health problems after gathering family history, activity levels, and health habits.
  2. Keep up with vaccines. If you've been keeping up with your teen's vaccines per the CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule, your teen won't be poked and prodded nearly as much as when they were a baby. The vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) is given at 11-years-old. If your teen hasn't received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine already, now is the time to start this vaccine series that can prevent cancers associated with HPV. The vaccine series preventing against meningococcal disease is typically given at 11-years-old, and then a booster is given at 16-years-old and is important especially if your teen plans on living in dorms during college. If your child isn't up to date on vaccines, now is the time to catch up!
  3. They may not listen to you. Well, they probably are listening, but instead are choosing not to heed your advice to turn off the phone, go exercise, or eat their vegetables. As their parent, you have been blessed with the responsibility to remind your teen of the health behaviors that prevent health complications each and every day of their (and your) lives. Having their medical provider reinforce these health messages can help validate all the "nagging" you are accused of by your teen.
  4. They may not tell you everything. While you may be the most patient and empathetic parent, chances are, your teen may not be 100% forthright in telling you if they are getting bullied, having trouble focusing in school, trying out alcohol, dating the boy or girl that you forbade, or occasionally taking a puff of marijuana. While this may be disturbing to stomach, try to remember when you were a teenager and how difficult it was for you to be completely transparent with your parents. Part of the health screen includes a detailed, confidential assessment of a teen's perception of safety, of their dietary and exercise habits, of exposure to and consumption of illicit substances, of their mental well-being, and of their choices with sexual expression. While you may think you have a right to know everything, health laws give protection to teens as long as they are not in imminent danger to themselves or others. Medical providers are trained to provide a safe space for your teen. They are mandated reporters, meaning if your child is battling a truly dangerous problem, reporting this to the appropriate channels is part of their job description. The medical professional performing this confidential exam may be the only safe adult that your child chooses to confide in and they can provide the necessary referrals and interventions that could save your teen's life.
In a few a years, your teen will be an adult, responsible for his or her own care and scheduling his or her own appointments. By choosing to prioritize this exam, you are setting a model of good health habits for years to come. Don't hesitate-- call New Beginnings Pediatrics to schedule your teen's next annual physical exam.