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Teenage girls may need two annual preventive health checkups

June 23, 2010 |  6:00 am

Teengirl Most kids have a well-child medical check-up once a year. That's what the experts recommend for school-age children and teenagers. But one medical group suggests that teenage girls should have two annual preventive health visits: one a general checkup with a primary care doctor and a second "dedicated" reproductive health visit.

The idea is proposed in the July issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology by an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee. The group recommends a girl have her first visit with an ob-gyn between the ages of 13 and 15. The visit should be primarily educational and a chance to establish a relationship with the doctor, according to the paper. Topics of discussion could include puberty, menstruation, healthy eating habits, sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy prevention, sexual orientation and gender identity. A pelvic exam would be performed only if warranted. The visit should include a discussion involving the teenager, a parent and the doctor about patient confidentiality.

Such a visit would "assist an adolescent in negotiating entry into the health care system when she has a specific reproductive health care need," the authors wrote. In a news release, Dr. Diane F. Merritt, chairwoman of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' committee on adolescent health care, added: "Given the high pregnancy and STD rates among adolescent girls in the U.S. compared with other developed countries, we continue to encourage parents to bring their daughters to an ob-gyn for their first visit earlier rather than later."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a resource for teens and their parents called Tool Kit for Teen Care.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Mark Boster  /  Los Angeles Times