What is adolescent medicine?
Adolescent medicine is the care of people ages 12 to 21 years of age.
Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s
Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine features a multidisciplinary team of medical providers, nurses, medical assistants, registered dietitians and social workers who work together to deliver care tailored to the needs of each patient.
We have expertise in caring for the physical and emotional needs of young people from puberty through early adulthood. We provide consultation, evaluation and treatment of health issues that commonly arise during these years through our subspecialty Adolescent Medicine clinics in 5 key areas:
- Eating Disorders Recovery Program
- Gender Clinic
- Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
- Reproductive and Sexual Health
We also collaborate with healthcare providers from other clinics and settings, including mental health therapists and primary care providers.
Why choose Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine?
We work closely with you, your child and other members of the healthcare team to create care plans that consider your family’s needs.
At Seattle Children’s, your family has a team behind you, from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. From our pediatric nurses to our clinical providers, our team is specially trained to work with children, adolescents, young adults and their families.
Research shows that a person’s physical, emotional and social development during adolescence affects their health throughout their life.
Our providers have received specialized training in adolescent health and stay up-to-date on new developments in the field. This gives them a deeper understanding of the development that occurs during adolescence and into early adulthood. It helps us create a care plan that uniquely addresses your child’s development now and in the future.
Our team is involved in research that is transforming the diagnosis, treatment and care of medical and behavioral health issues affecting children, adolescents and young adults.
Some areas of expertise include integration of mental and behavioral health services, use of technology to improve adolescent health, gender-affirming care, services for youth in foster care or other underserved settings, substance use prevention, medical management of youth with eating disorders, biofeedback to manage chronic pain and stress and reproductive and sexual health.
Services and Treatments We Provide
Biofeedback is a technique that helps children, adolescents and young adults learn how to voluntarily control their body’s response to stress and pain to improve their health. Using breathing exercises, guided imagery and other techniques, patients can regulate their muscle tension, heart rate, skin temperature and other body functions to decrease chronic pain and manage their response to stress. In some cases, they may notice improvements in other symptoms, like sleeplessness, anxiety or lack of focus.
Eating disorder treatment with the Adolescent Medicine team addresses the medical and nutritional concerns related to disordered eating. Conditions we currently treat include:
- Anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia nervosa
- Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
- Bulimia nervosa
- Other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED)
We do not have psychologists or mental health therapists in our Adolescent Medicine clinic. We partner with mental health providers from Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine or from outside Seattle Children’s so your child receives the care they need.
At our Gender Clinic, we provide care for adolescents and young adults whose gender identity is different from their sex at birth and patients who do not identify with traditional definitions of male or female.
The Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology team treats conditions of the uterus, ovaries, vagina and vulva. Our team provides comprehensive evaluation and specialized treatment for gynecological conditions in children, adolescents and young adults. We often care for adolescents who are medically complex or may need surgical treatment.
Our Reproductive and Sexual Health team includes adolescent medicine specialists who offer medical evaluation and treatment of reproductive and sexual health conditions for patients of all genders ages 12 to 21, including:
- Menstrual management
- Contraception counseling
- Sexually transmitted infections
Confidentiality in Washington State
Parents and caregivers are very important for ensuring the growth and development of adolescents into healthy adults. We encourage our patients to speak with their parents or caregivers about their health.
As providers, we are also dedicated to helping children, adolescents and young adults develop independence and practice being involved in medical decisions. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, we offer our patients time in the Adolescent Medicine Clinic to talk with their provider alone.
Under Washington state law, adolescents have the right to seek medical care for the following conditions even without parent or caregiver consent if they are capable of making sound decisions:
- Birth control and pregnancy-related treatment
- Mental health conditions if 13 or older
- Alcohol and drug problems if 13 or older
- Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS testing, if 14 or older
Our patients’ medical records are private and confidential. They will need to consent to releasing medical information to anyone, including their parents or caregivers.
Washington state privacy laws make it complicated for parents and caregivers to access adolescent health information. If the health of our patients or someone else’s health or well-being is in immediate danger, however, we will tell parents and caregivers immediately and include them in the plan to keep everyone safe.
Resources for Patients and Families
- Reproductive Health 101 (18:56): Dr. Kate Debiec shares information about how to talk to tweens and teens about reproductive health at a Teenology 101 forum.
- Social Media’s Influence on Teens (23:19): Dr. Yolanda Evans shares information about social media use and its influence on tweens and teens at a Teenology 101 forum.
- Wellness, What’s That? (23:37): Dr. Jasmin Zavala shares general health and wellness information at a Teenology 101 forum.
For more information about our clinical services, contact Adolescent Medicine at 206-987-2028. If you would like an appointment, check with the Adolescent Medicine clinic to see if you need a referral from your child’s primary care provider.
Participate in Research
You can help us answer questions about childhood health and illness and help other children in the future. Learn more about clinical trials and research studies at Seattle Children’s.