The specialty of adolescent medicine has developed in response to the unique health care needs of adolescents. Knowledge of the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes that adolescents undergo, as well as the disease processes that occur during adolescence, is vital when caring for patients in this age group.
Causes of adolescent morbidity and mortality are often a result of negative behavioral and social forces. Accidental injuries, suicide, and homicide now account for more than 75 percent of all adolescent deaths. It is estimated that nearly one-fourth of all adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17 are at very high risk for substance abuse, delinquency, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases or school failure. Substance abuse, including alcohol, drug and tobacco use, often begins during the teen years. Many of the new AIDS cases reported in the United States are individuals in their twenties. It is likely that these young people acquired their infection during their adolescent years.
Chronic illness also affects increasing numbers of adolescents as physicians are able to deal more effectively with diseases in children. Most investigators estimate the prevalence of chronic disease in the adolescent population to be approximately 10 percent. These adolescents must deal with their illnesses while trying to achieve the tasks of normal adolescent development.
Lifestyle and behavioral decisions made during the adolescent years may profoundly and permanently affect adult health and well-being. Choices and behaviors can be influenced by education and counseling during adolescence.
The Adolescent Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital was created in July 1996 to meet the complex growing health care needs of adolescents. The Center was expanded to Missouri Baptist Medical Center in November 1998.
Provide care for patients aged 12-21 years and serve as a resource for health care professionals with questions or other needs related to adolescent health care.
Provide teaching in adolescent medicine.
Develop areas of clinical research in adolescent medicine.
Collaborate with groups to improve the health of our youth.