This article reviews the biologic, cognitive, and sociocultural changes that occur during adolescence. Providing appropriate health care to adolescents in an effective manner requires an in-depth understanding of these changes, both in terms of preventing the onset of health-risking behaviors and promoting a healthy lifestyle. As many chronic diseases of adults have their origins during adolescence, this approach holds promise for reducing morbidity and mortality in later life as well as during young adulthood. There is an emerging consensus regarding the scope and content of preventive services for adolescents. The approach to incorporating these services into the health maintenance visit for young people is reviewed.
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