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While your teen may have outgrown the tiny chairs and the dog-eared picture books in your pediatrician's waiting room, experts urge parents to think twice before transitioning a teen to an adult physician.
"Even high school kids can benefit from seeing a pediatrician," explained Stephen Daniels, MD, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Children's Hospital Colorado and Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "While teens may look like adults, they're still growing and developing, and often their emotional needs require the expertise of a pediatrician or family practice doctor until after college."
For kids with special health needs, it may be appropriate to delay the transition even longer.
"We see patients with cystic fibrosis, heart issues or other complex conditions into their mid-twenties and beyond," Dr. Daniels said.
If you sense your child may be ready to begin seeing an adult physician, explore some options with your child's doctor.
"Sometimes teens get the message that they no longer fit in with a pediatric practice," said David W. Kaplan, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Section Head of Adolescent Medicine at Children's and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "We have a clinic just for teens featuring staff who specialize in adolescent medicine. The clinic offers expertise in teen issues, including sensitive subjects like sex, alcohol or drug use, and behavioral matters."