Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - North Mississippi - 24
Parents may be hesitant to have
their children receive the human
papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine,
which protects against certain
types of cancer, because HPV is
transmitted through sexual activity and parents may think they can
wait until closer to the age their
children might become sexually
active. The vaccine is recommended
for both boys and girls beginning
at age 11, and girls can receive it
as early as age 9, says Margaret
Stager, MD, a spokeswoman for the
American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are valid reasons for
administering it early, Stager says.
"Our goal is to give it during the
age range where we see the best
immune response, and we know
from studies that children respond
best between 9 and 15," she says.
"Some parents say, 'She doesn't
need it now.' But now is the best
time. She has an incredible ability
to make a robust antibody response,
so if we do it now, if and whenever
she might be exposed, she has some
nice antibodies on board."
A lot changes in the adolescent years,
requiring a comprehensive approach to
3 Immunizations. Most teenagers
should see a doctor once a year for an
annual exam and any needed shots.
"Not all parents are aware, but teens
might need a tetanus booster, meningitis
booster and MMR [measles, mumps and
rubella] booster," says Margaret Stager,
MD, a spokeswoman for the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And girls
age 9 and older should receive the HPV
vaccine, which can help stop certain
cancers from developing.
3 Well-woman care and sexual
education. As girls transition through
puberty and begin to menstruate, their
doctors have new information and
concerns related to their reproductive health. "That's all part of wellness
and safety and making good, healthy
decisions during the teen years. We
have to talk about stuff
Stager says. Though
breast cancer risk
is very low for teens, Stager teaches
her patients how to perform a breast
self-exam when they are 18 or 19.
3 Stress-related illness and sleep.
The teenage years can be stressful,
especially for modern kids who feel
pulled in a million directions. The
ubiquity of cellphones, with their constant buzz of notifications, doesn't help
them get a good night's sleep, which is
a critical component of mental health.
"They are staying up later and not getting good-quality sleep, and the parents
aren't aware this is going on," Stager
says. She points out that bad sleep habits correlate with weight gain and poor
3 Online safety. Stager also checks in
with teenage girls-and their parents-
about their lives on the internet. "I talk
about parents monitoring social media,"
she says. "Most girls are not fully aware
of the great risks associated with communicating with someone they really
Find a Provider
Your primary care provider
will work with you to ensure
you have the screenings and
vaccines you need. To find a
doctor, call 800-THE DESK
(800-843-3375) or visit
www.nmhs.net and click
"Find a Physician."
to help adolescents
get adequate exercise,
sleep and in-person
PHOTO BY GLOW IMAGES
SUMM ER 2017