Adolescent medicine: Special attention for a sensitive time

Joseph-DiCaprio-JuliaYour child has been visiting the same doctor’s office for the past 13 years. The picture books and small chairs have been there even longer. When is it time for your child to have a “grown-up” relationship with a physician?

Hennepin County Medical Center’s Julia Joseph-Di Caprio, MD, is a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent health. She says, “Not every teen needs to see a specialist, but if you see changes in your child that concern you – like risky sexual behavior, depression, excessive moodiness or learning problems that weren’t there before – a specialist in adolescent medicine could help.

“There usually are signals that things aren’t going well and it is good to rule out health problems as a first step,” Di Caprio says. “Maybe your good student is struggling in school or has a sudden weight loss or change in appearance. Maybe they are tearful when they are usually happy. Sometimes teachers or coaches will mention things to parents that they haven’t noticed at home. They really should be evaluated by a provider.”

Families are welcome to attend treatment. “Parents and children can be seen together for the first part of the visit, after which we can visit with the adolescent privately,” Dr. Di Caprio says. “This gives the young person a chance to ask us questions on their own.”

Hennepin recently opened a new clinic for adolescents at the Richfield Clinic on Tuesday evenings, which joins the other adolescent clinics in the Hennepin Pediatric Clinic. For more information or to book an appointment, call 612-873-6963.

 

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