New Report: Adolescent Health Services

Posted by on February 2, 2009

Report sees steep drop-off in child wellness after age 10

A major new study by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine has concluded that the system of care for tweens and teens is fragmented and poorly designed, according to The Associated Press. Few doctors specialize in adolescents’ complex needs, or provide comprehensive care that earns their trust at a developmental stage that brings more rapid biological changes than any age except infancy. Most at risk are the poor. Although the past decade has seen declines in teen pregnancy and smoking, tweens and teens are increasingly overweight; their physical activity is dropping; chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes are on the rise; and injuries from car crashes remain this age’s leading cause of death. Few tweens and teens are screened for risky behavior so doctors can intervene before a problem arises, the report found, even though 10 to 20 percent of adolescents annually experience a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. Five million are uninsured, too often left out of federal-state programs designed to provide health coverage to children. “A 10-year-old is probably the healthiest person in America,” said Dr. Frederick Rivara, co-author of the report. “Something happens between age 10 and age 25.”

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