A new study finds that most American teenagers are not receiving adequate preventive health care, even though early intervention can set healthy patterns for life.
This study by University of California, San Francisco researchers found that among 8,500 young from age 10 to 17 who took part in a national survey, only 38 percent had a preventive health visit in the past year.
Preventive care might include counseling on various health issues such as dental care, healthy eating, the importance of regular exercise and of wearing a seat belt or bicycle helmet and exposure to second hand smoke.
These years are thought to create many lifelong healthy behaviors.
Fewer than half of the adolescents who did have preventive health care were counseling on some of these issues.
“The results were pretty shocking to us. With so many adolescents not receiving the recommended preventive care, it is clear we need to develop new strategies that will help increase the delivery of services," study first author Dr. Charles Irwin, director of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at UCSF Children's Hospital, said in a university news release.
Researchers find that the family income has some bearing on the amount of information a teen receives. 28 percent of high-income families had preventive healthcare over the past year, compared to 32 percent of low-income families. Adolescents with no health insurance were least likely to receive information.
Dr. Irwin recommends that children have some one-on-one time with their healthcare professional beginning at the age of 12 to discuss preventive care, sexual activity and drug use. Less than half of those in the survey had any time along with their doctors.
The study is published in the March 30 online edition of the journal Pediatrics. #