During cold, flu, and allergy seasons, sick teens and their parents are more likely to make time to see the doctor.
However, these visits tend to focus on a specific illness rather than the teen's general health and well-being.
Annual checkups, on the other hand, can provide an opportunity for teens and their doctors to discuss important health topics, such as weight, sexual health, vaccines and stress-related conditions.
Statistics show that as children get older, they are less likely to get an annual checkup. As many as 25 to 30 percent of teens may not be getting an annual checkup, despite the fact that they are recommended for adolescents by the American Medical Association and other professional societies.
In a national online survey conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and Pfizer, 85 percent of parents surveyed believe that annual checkups are important for children before age 5, yet only 61 percent of parents believed the same is true for teens.
The survey included 504 teens aged 13 to 17 years, 500 parents of teens aged 13 to 17 years and 1,325 healthcare professionals, and was fielded by Harris Interactive between Dec. 27, 2012, and Jan. 23, 2013.
Many parents may not even realize how important staying healthy is to teens. The same national online survey found that more than six out of 10 teens surveyed say they worry a lot or a great deal about staying healthy, but only three out of 10 parents surveyed think their teens worry about it.
Teens who do not get annual checkups and forego the opportunity for preventive care may be at increased risk for short- and long-term health problems.
The teen years are also an important time of physical and emotional development.
Even if teens look or feel healthy, they are going through many changes, and an annual checkup can give them the opportunity to ask questions and have a confidential conversation with a doctor about topics such as:
n Height and weight
n Alcohol and drug use
n Recommended vaccines
n Sexual health, including screening for sexually transmitted infections
For more information on the importance of an annual visit for teens, as well as tips, strategies and additional information to help navigate teen health, visit MyTeensHealth.com.