Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Should I Let My Teen Travel Abroad?

It is the fall, and teens have started school.  Many are involved in sports, music groups, church activities, or other extracurricular activities.  Often, the opportunity arises to travel abroad.  The teens almost always want to go!  Who wouldn’t want a chance to see the world with a group of friends? For parents, this opportunity to travel is exciting, but at the same time may cause concerns about costs, safety, food borne illness, and lack of adult supervision. In the midst of the end of the Amanda Knox trial and her return to Seattle, parents may be reconsidering allowing their teen to travel abroad.

So what do you as a parent do? It is relatively easy to determine which adults (and how many adults) will be going on the trip.  The cost will also be presented early on, but there are a lot of other unanswered questions… Read full post »

Teen Prescription Drug Use

How many adults have a medicine cabinet full of drugs?  Perhaps you’re saving that painkiller your dentist prescribed ‘just in case of emergency’ or the 10 pills for anxiety your doctor gave you for a case of stage fright? Maybe a grandparent has medications for blood pressure or a heart condition that were forgotten about.

Well, a friend recently told me a new term for a not-so-new trend in teen prescription drug use: “salad bowling”.  The concept is simple: teens go to their parents’ medicine cabinet and dump all the drugs into a salad bowl.  At the next party, set the bowl so friends can take a handful.  This trend is dangerous in its own right, but add alcohol to the mix and the consequences can be deadly. Read full post »

Teens Texting and Compromising Photos

In this age of technology, teens may be tempted to take photos of themselves in compromising positions and send those to friends.  These pictures may be of themselves at a party drinking alcohol or even a picture of them in their underwear (or less) to a boyfriend or girlfriend.  They may think it’s not a big deal to send a private picture to one recipient, but that one ‘innocent’ photo may then be passed along to friends via text messages or posts on social networking sites.  Even if the picture is posted on a social networking site with ‘private settings’ with teens thinking only their friends are seeing them, the recent media coverage on celebrity nude photos shows us just how those compromising pictures can come back to haunt them later. Read full post »

Adolescent Transition to Adult Health Care

Adolescent transition to adult health care is important for every teen. Teens with and without special health care needs may have difficulties with transitioning from pediatric to adult focused medical care. Think about the last time you visited your teen’s pediatric provider’s office… what did the waiting room look like?  Was there a fish tank?  Did the office have child friendly toys, magazines, and books?  Were the colors bright and cheerful?  Now consider your last visit to see your adult medical provider.  My guess is the walls were gray or muted, there was no fish tank, and the magazines included Newsweek and Golf.  Not exactly teen friendly!

Of course, the transition from pediatric to adult centered care involves much more than just a change in scenery.  It includes a shift in focus from the family making decisions, to the autonomy of being responsible for one’s self.  Teens and emerging adults will be expected to know how to make follow-up appointments, arrange for laboratory testing, and get prescriptions filled.  They’ll need to know what medications they take, what insurance coverage they have, and what their medical and family history consists of.  This transition is not just a challenge for the teens, it’s hard for the family to make the shift as well! Read full post »

Teen Marijuana Use

Teen marijuana use may seem like a normal part of the high school experience. How many of us know someone who uses or have personally have tried a blunt, a bowl, or a hit off of a friend’s bong?  I remember growing up and hearing my uncle talk about smoking a ‘joint’ with nostalgia as he recalled the 1970’s.  Well, marijuana is still extremely popular and when asked, many teens think it’s healthier than smoking cigarettes. However, marijuana can have major impacts on health and mood. Read full post »

Teen Dating Violence

 

Dating violence is something no parent or family would want for their teen. Deciding when a teen should be allowed to date is tough enough.  Thoughts going through a parent’s mind may include worries about sex or heart break, but how many parents think about abusive relationships?

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Body piercing: What Parents Need to Know

For teens, a body piercing may be a way to rebel or imitate peers, or they may just want another way to accessorize their wardrobe.  Parents and teens both should know a few facts before getting pierced.  From a medical perspective, a piercing is a wound that needs to heal, with all the associated complications that can arise.  Piercings that are not performed with sterilized tools can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  In this video link, we speak with a licensed professional body piercer based in Seattle  about what parents should know about body piercing.

 

Health Rights of Teens

Health rights of teens are important for every parent to understand. A major task during the teen years is to navigate the balance between autonomy and parental support.  Developmentally, teenagers are going through the process of maturing: they shift from concrete to more abstract thinking, they question boundaries, and they start to take responsibility for their own health.

This time can be amazingly fun and extremely challenging at the same time.  When it comes to health, teens may seek medical care less often, but when they go, they’ll often be accompanied by parents.  The question I hear from teens and parents alike is “How old do I need to be to consent for my own health care? Do I need to be 18?”  My answer is “It depends.” Read full post »

Chronic illness and transition

Chronic illness and transition to adult health care providers can be a challenging task for parents and teens. Working in a major children’s hospital, most of the teenagers I meet are faced with the daily struggle of living with a chronic illness.  Some of these youth look ‘normal’ on first glance and others might fit the more stereotyped idea of an unwell child.  Adolescence is tough enough to go through if you are completely healthy, but adding a chronic illness on top of that complicates things even more. This post isn’t meant to cover every aspect of living with chronic illness, but just to get parents thinking about how illness and disease can affect a teen that is living with it.

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Family meals equal healthier teens

 Sitting as a family at the same table may seem like a daunting task in our fast paced lives.  We are often racing to and from work, school, and extracurricular activities.  Eating occurs when it’s convenient, which means we sometimes in the car and often on the go.  Believe it or not, taking time to sit and eat as a family can have positive effects on health!

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