The transition from childhood to adolescence is a major milestone, and the adolescent years (starting with puberty) represent a critical period when many changes occur: biologically (body and brain), cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally. During this time, key areas of the brain are still developing and maturing with regard to structure, function, and connections. This provides opportunities for adolescents to explore their developing identity, form relationships with peers and adults, and navigate social and societal situations that will test the decisions they make. The transition to adolescence can be confusing and hard to navigate because adolescents are seeking more independence and might engage in risk-taking behaviors. They should not make this journey alone.

Although risk-taking might be a normal experience for adolescents, some health risks can have significant, negative, and long-term health consequences. The leading causes of death among adolescents 15 to 19 years of age continue to be accidents, suicide, and homicide.1  Working to improve outcomes for adolescents and young adults is an important task for our society as a whole, not just for the pediatricians involved in providingcare for this population.

Guidance and support from trusted adults help adolescents build a strong foundation for success into adulthood, and pediatricians play a key role in guiding and supporting the physical and mental health needs of this age group. Research indicates that unmet health care needs during adolescence is a predictor of poor health outcomes as well as a lower quality of life into adulthood.2  Promoting the importance of routine preventive health services and delivering adolescent-supportive care that meets their needs will encourage adolescents to seek needed services.3 

For >30 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Adolescent Health (SOAH), under the leadership of coeditors Drs Victor Strasburger and Donald Greydanus, produced Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews (AM:STARs), a triannual journal for SOAH members dedicated to providing in-depth information and covering ongoing advances on a wide range of topics for pediatricians to reference when caring for adolescents in the clinical setting; each issue featured 10 to 12 articles, offering a variety of perspectives on a specific topic. Publication of AM:STARs ceased in April 2019 with a final issue on contraception. We are grateful for the dedication of the coeditors and the incredible contributions of the invited experts who authored and edited the multitude of articles that were published in AM:STARs throughout the years. Discussions among SOAH leadership about a new format to provide current and practical information and advances on key topics in adolescent health led to the birth of this supplement.

The topics in and framework for the supplement were chosen by the SOAH Executive Committee and offer guidance on the approach pediatricians and adolescent medicine specialists could take to discuss and address current important topics affecting adolescents in their own practice settings. The articles are short and focus on the evidence for effective modalities for management of these issues, while also identifying the gaps in knowledge that exist for the topics covered in this supplement. The authors of the articles also suggest future directions to move the field of adolescent health forward.

The articles featured in this issue fall into several categories, all topical and critical for adolescent and young adult health. The supplement begins with articles addressing three of the most prevalent and concerning substances that are being used by youth today: opioids, marijuana, and electronic cigarettes. It then tackles a topic that is constantly changing and expanding dramatically: technology, both problematic Internet use by teenagers as well as use of technology to promote and improve adolescent health and wellness. Substance use and technology are issues that will require pediatricians to reflect and strategize, asking a new set of questions as they see their adolescent patients.

Continuing with the theme of mental health, the next article addresses the suicide epidemic and offers practical approaches within the office setting. Also included is an article addressing several issues affecting sleep among adolescents. Both suicide concerns and sleep issues are currently impacting large numbers of teenagers across the country. The next three articles address clinical issues that affect adolescents and are seen most commonly by pediatricians and other physicians: management of polycystic ovarian syndrome; screening, testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; and concepts involved in the evaluation and management of acne.

There were many people involved in the development of this supplement, whose contributions are greatly appreciated. The authors shared their knowledge and expertise and are well-respected experts on these topics. The SOAH Executive Committee provided leadership and input on the topics and encouraged and supported the development of this supplement. The editorial team (Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP; Margaret [Peggy] Stager, MD, FAAP; and Maria E. Trent, MD, MPH, FAAP) worked with us to select the final topics and provided guidance along the way in developing a publication that is relevant and timely. The SOAH staff manager, Karen Smith, was key in coordinating and facilitating the development of the supplement.

We are thrilled to expand our reach to readers of Pediatrics beyond the SOAH membership, to help you care for this population. We hope you will benefit from this supplement as you continue to work to improve the health and well-being of all adolescents and young adults in your practices.

Both authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Throughout the supplement, we use the term “pediatrician,” which refers to other physicians and subspecialists beyond pediatricians who are involved in the care of adolescents and young adults.

FUNDING: No external funding.

AM:STARs

Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews

SOAH

Section on Adolescent Health

1
NVSS
.
Deaths: leading causes for
2016
. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_06.pdf. Accessed December 16, 2019
2
Hargreaves
DS
,
Elliott
MN
,
Viner
RM
,
Richmond
TK
,
Schuster
MA
.
Unmet health care need in US adolescents and adult health outcomes
.
Pediatrics
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2015
;
136
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3
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513
520
3
Hagan
JF
,
Shaw
JS
,
Duncan
PM
, eds
.
Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents
, 4th ed.
Elk Grove Village, IL
:
American Academy of Pediatrics
;
2017

Competing Interests

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.