Adolescent medicine

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Adolescent medicine or Hebiatrics is a medical subspecialty that focuses on care of patients who are in the adolescent period of development, generally ranging from the last years of elementary school until graduation from high school (some doctors in this subspecialty treat young adults attending college at area clinics, in the subfield of college health). Patients have generally entered puberty, which typically begins between the ages of 9 to 11 for girls, and 11 to 13 for boys.

In developed nations, the period of adolescence is extended both by an earlier start, as onset of puberty is beginning earlier, and a later end, requiring more years of education or training before economic independence from parents.[1]

Issues with a high prevalence during adolescence are frequently addressed by providers. These include:

Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth[edit]

Adolescents who are gay, lesbian or bisexual tend to demonstrate more risky health behaviors and have worse health outcomes compared to heterosexual youth, including:[2]

  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidality
  • Eating disorders and body image
  • Sexual behaviors, including unintended pregnancy involvement (Contrary to assumptions, gay, bisexual or lesbian youth are more likely to report involvement in pregnancy compared to their heterosexual peers)[3]
  • Homelessness, which affects health and access to care

Chronic conditions[edit]

The rising dominance of chronic conditions over acute conditions, along with dramatic improvement in life expectancy, has made the management of such chronic conditions in adolescence of greater importance: Chronic conditions and adolescent development are mutually impactful.

Chronic conditions often cause delay in onset of puberty and temporary or permanent impediments to growth; conversely the growth and hormonal changes can destabilize treatment for the chronic condition. An increase in independence can lead to gaps in self-management, for example, in the decreased management of diabetes.[4]

Young peoples' access to health care[edit]

In addition, issues of medical ethics, particularly related to confidentiality and the right to consent for medical care, are pertinent to the practice of adolescent medicine.[5]


Adolescent medicine providers are generally drawn from the specialties of pediatrics, internal medicine, med/peds or family medicine. The certifying boards for these different specialties have varying requirements for certification, though all require successful completion of a fellowship and a passing score on a certifying exam. The American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Internal Medicine require evidence of scholarly achievement by candidates for subspecialty certification, usually in the form of an original research study.

In the United States, subspecialty medical board certification in adolescent medicine is available through the specialty boards of American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians, the American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics.[6]

List of adolescent health centers in the United States[edit]

Many subspecialists practice as part of general specialty clinics or practices, or in high school or college clinics. In addition, many major metropolitan areas have clinics that offer adolescent-specific care. A partial list includes:

Kansas City, Missouri

New York City

Rochester, New York

Los Angeles

San Francisco area





Cincinnati, Ohio

Richmond, Virginia

List of adolescent health centers in Australia[edit]

These hospitals offer adolescent-specific care:


Professional organizations[edit]

In addition to membership in the organizations for their various specialties, adolescent medicine providers often belong to The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and/or The North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Founded in 1987, the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) is a multidisciplinary, non-government organization with a broad focus on youth health.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Child and Adolescent Health, Credo Encyclopedia". Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ Coker, TR; Austin, SB; Schuster, MA (2010). "The Health and Health Care of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents". Annual Review of Public Health 31. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103636. 
  3. ^ Saewyc, EM; Poon, CS; Homma, Y; et al. (2008). "Stigma management? The links between enacted stigma and teen pregnancy trends among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students in British Columbia". Can J Hum Sex 17. 
  4. ^ Michaud, PA; Suris, JC; Viner, R (2007). "The Adolescent with a Chronic Condition: Epidemiology, developmental issues and health care provision" (PDF). World Health Organization. 
  5. ^ Chown P, Kang M, Sanci L, Newnham V and Bennett D (2008) Adolescent Health: GP Resource Kit. Enhancing the skills of General Practitioners in caring for young people from culturally diverse backgrounds, 2nd edition, NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health and Transcultural Mental Health Centre. Available at: [ Accessed on: October 14, 2008.
  6. ^ "Specialties & Subspecialties". American Osteopathic Association. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 

External links[edit]