Getting tweens and teens the care they need

Getting tweens and teens the care they need

They have stopped playing with dolls and toy trucks, and now they need a weekend curfew. They are tweens and teens. Neither children nor adults, adolescents are dealing with important physical and emotional changes. Their health care needs are changing, too, as they cross that bridge from pediatrician to adult-care physician.

Troubling transitions

Unfortunately, that journey is often a bumpy one. A significant number of pediatricians responding to a recent national survey indicated they do not provide transition support services for adolescents who are moving to adult providers. As a result, many adult-care physicians feel unprepared to accept some of these patients, particularly those with complex conditions.

Enter the specialist

As medical doctors certified in internal medicine or pediatrics, adolescent medicine specialists have extra training in adolescent health issues and provide all aspects of care – from physical exams and treating illness to attention problems and nutrition. They specialize in the physical, sexual, psychological and social development of patients ages 11 to 21.

Rina Lazebnik, MD, Chief of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, is board-certified in adolescent medicine and in general pediatrics. She says, “Adolescent medicine specialists work with other physicians and parents to help patients switch smoothly from pediatric care to a more adult setting. The goal is to help adolescents become more independent in their own health care decisions. And gain understanding of their medical problems.”

Clued-in on adolescents’ concerns

Adolescent medicine specialists like Dr. Lazebnik are well-trained in the health issues so common to tweens and teens, including:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Eating disorders
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Birth control and pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Growth problems
  • Eye and ear disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

According to Dr. Lazebnik, fatigue is a common concern. “Many teens often feel so exhausted that they miss school and cannot play sports or go out with friends,” she says.

For many tweens and teens, some of these issues are hard to talk about with adults. But adolescent medicine specialists are there for them and their families. “We know how to make them feel comfortable and are able to facilitate improved communication between themselves and their parents,” says Dr. Lazebnik.

Be there for your child

Do you feel that your child could benefit from an adolescent medicine specialist? Ask your primary care physician for a referral to one. Work with this new doctor and your child as a team. Together you can take steps to help your tween or teen gain control and independence in managing his or her health care.

Specialized care is just a phone call away

To schedule an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital or an adolescent gynecologist at UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, call 216-844-5437. Or request an appointment online at RainbowBabies.org.

Rina Lazebnik

RINA LAZEBNIK, MD
Chief, General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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