Need to Know: April’s Top Teen Health Stories


As part of our never-ending quest to help you foster A+ mental, physical, and social/emotional health in your teenagers, we've compiled a brief roundup of April's need-to-know teen health news stories. (Click each heading to view the news source.)  

Teens Benefit Most From Doctor Visits When Parents Aren't Present 

What you should know: Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed parents of 13- to 18-year-olds around the country to find that only 34 percent of parents grant their teens the privacy of discussing health concerns alone with their doctor. Forty percent of parents admitted to asking all of the questions during doctor visits, and just over 90 percent said their teen cannot complete a medical history form on their own. 

What you can do: Without prying, let your teen know what to expect during a doctor visit (We've got four tips right here!), and inform them of your family's medical history. Then, take a step back. If you trust your teen now, they'll be apt to take responsibility for their health even when you're not around. (Hello, college!)

Teen Girls Begin Drinking Earlier Than Teen Boys 

What you should know: Data from 400,000 teens and young adults (ages 12-24) who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that adolescent girls start drinking at a younger age than their male counterparts. The survey found that 14- 15-year-old girls were about 25 percent more likely to have had a full alcoholic drink (not just a sip) than were boys their age. 

What you can do: Regardless of gender, alcohol is bad news—especially for teens, whose brain development is impeded by the drug. Explain to your teens the danger of just one drink, and use the chart in the story to help them devise an alcohol exit strategy for handling sticky situations. 

Suicide Rates Spike Among Teen Girls 

What you should know: According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, our country's suicide rate is on the incline, having increased by a quarter from 1999 to 2014. The demographic that's jumped the most? Girls ages 10-14, whose suicide rate tripled from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people in those 15 years. 

What you can do: Depression may not be visible to the untrained eye, but 1 in every 10 teens will struggle with it before graduating from high school. To help them recognize the different ways in which depression manifests, pass along these accounts from real teens who have been diagnosed and are getting help. Let your teen know that you're always open to listen and help them with whatever problems or feelings they may be experiencing—without judgment. 

Any more teen health trends we should know about? Tweet us @Choices_Mag