Thirteen and Fourteen Year Visit
Congratulations! You are entering the most exciting time of your life, full of changes and choices. Your health class at school has detailed the physical changes in your body. We would like to make you aware of the changes in relationships and some choices available.
One if the most significant changes in your life will be the importance of your friends as an influence on your feelings and behavior. Sometimes it will be difficult to choose between the different interests of parents and friends. It is important to discuss these differences openly with your parents. Usually a fair solution can be found. Similarly, you should talk with your parents about the strong feelings that often occur during the next few years. Your parents also had these feelings as they went through this time in their lives. They can understand your concerns.
You should also be aware that your behavior and choices now will strongly influence your health for years to come. Many risks to your good health are avoidable. Therefore, we recommend that you think seriously about your decisions regarding smoking, drinking, drug use, driving, and sexual relationships. Although most people your age feel that “it won’t happen to me”, automobile accidents and sexually transmitted disease are the most serious and common threats to your immediate good health. Smoking, which is highly addicting, puts you at high risk for frequent lung illness and cancer. Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment and lead you to act in ways that you would not if you were thinking clearly. In addition, they in themselves can cause damage to your liver and other organs. Please don’t make casual decisions regarding these behaviors.
The media (magazines, movies and especially TV) may carry many subtle but strong messages designed to influence you in ways that profit the advertiser and not be good for your health. In addition, they often show violence and sex without regard for their consequences. Be aware of these attempts to “sell” you.
School is your job so participation in extracurricular activities is really needed so that you are doing something for you that is fun: sports, music, drama, dance, or clubs, whatever interests you-go for it.
We would like to be a resource for you during this exciting and challenging time. We are available to speak confidentially with you about any concerns, problems, or questions you may have. We can provide information about your health, answer your questions about illness, and talk with you about many new feelings and emotions you are experiencing and how to deal with them. Just ask!
The AAP recommends vitamin D supplementation for all children/adolescents. After reviewing the literature, it certainly looks like many people may benefit from vitamin D, although not everyone necessarily needs it. Some risk factors that might make you vitamin D deficient include: dark skin (African-americans, Indians, Hispanics), time spent indoors and not out in the sunlight (particularly in the winter months), low amount of milk consumption (less than 16 oz a day – about 2 glasses), and obesity. Talk to your parents about picking some up for you. The recommended dose is 400 IU (international units) once daily. This can be bought over the counter in either liquid, chewable, or pill form. Another option would be a multivitamin.
Immunizations that will be given during the next several years will be chicken pox booster, Hepatitis A series if not already given (2 shots given 6 months apart), and the HPV vaccine (3 shots in the series). A yearly flu shot is still recommended.