Did You Know?

When it comes to the nation’s 42 million adolescents, there are many opportunities for adults to contribute to adolescents’ health and healthy development. The second decade is the time of life when bodies, minds, and emotions are changing and growing more rapidly than at any time other than infancy, and when guidance and interventions can really make a difference. During this natural transition to adulthood, adolescents begin to make more of their own health choices, from what they eat to how they spend their time — choices that can have implications for their short- and long-term health.

And although adolescents no longer need constant supervision, they do still need and even want support, guidance, and information from adults they can trust.

Individuals and organizations that care about young people are urged to join this effort and identify ways to promote the health and healthy development of adolescents.


Adolescents grow an additional 15 to 20 percent of their adult height, gain about half of their adult body weight, and build up 40 percent of their bone mass. The need for healthy nutrients increases, to fuel growth and build a foundation for lifelong health.


Adolescent brains are under construction into their early 20s. Teens' brains are still developing into their early 20s, which explains why teens may be more vulnerable to injuries or risky, impulsive behaviors than adults. Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use takes a greater toll on young, developing brains than on adult brains.


Teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. Growing bodies need sleep, and changes in the brain cause changes in sleep patterns. Because of these changes in sleep patterns, teens typically fall asleep later at night and are more tired in the morning than younger children.


Physically, teens reach sexual maturity. Typically, girls start to mature in early adolescence (about ages 11-14) and boys about two years later, but normal age ranges for puberty are wide.


Though generally healthy, teens benefit from regular medical and dental care. Regular contact with health care providers means teens get routine preventive care recommended for their age and get screened for signs of any risky behaviors early enough that guidance and counseling brings benefits. Healthcare providers are another example of reliable adults who can help guide a young person’s development.


 

Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® and the logo design are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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