Playtimes April 2014 - page 79

may find it useful to share a book with
your child, which can form the basis
for discussion. There are also many
books available to prepare parents for
questions their child may have, and
you can shop around for an approach
you feel comfortable with.
Up: It’s a Girl Thing
by Mavis Jukes is
a good book to buy for your daughter
and then discuss with her afterwards.
For boys, the same author has written
The Guy Book: An Owner’s Manual
. Or,
you might try
The Body Book for Boys
Rebecca Paley, Grace Norwich and
Jonathan Mar.
The teen years are a period of
intense growth for your child, not
only physically, but emotionally and
intellectually, too. It’s understandable
that these years can also be a time
of confusion and upheaval for many
Reminding yourself of the physical
changes your child will experience
during puberty will help you navigate
them through any anxieties they might
In girls, puberty can begin as
early as six or seven years, but most
often starts at around 11. In boys,
puberty typically begins at around
age 12, but may start as early as nine.
As you might recall from your own
adolescence, puberty is a process that
goes on for several years. Most girls
are physically mature by about age 14,
whereas boys typically mature at about
15 or 16.
In girls, breasts will usually
develop first. Then hair will start
growing in the pubic area and the
armpits. Some girls may experience
acne as well. Menstruation (the period)
usually happens last.
In boys, the testicles and penis
usually get bigger first. Then hair will
grow in the pubic area, armpits and
face. The voice will become deeper,
and they may experience acne.
Keep current
At around 11 to 12 years, your child
will require a booster vaccination
for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
(whooping cough) and polio, following
on from the doses they had in infancy
and early childhood. They may also
need a hepatitis B booster. These
are essential to give the immune
system a “reminder” and ensure life-
long protection. Without boosters,
immunity to these diseases often
wanes, leaving many people susceptible
as they enter adolescence and young
adulthood. This has been a particular
problem with pertussis, which for
this reason is now included with the
adolescent tetanus booster.
Another vaccine that is strongly
recommended for girls from nine
years onwards is the human papilloma
virus (HPV) vaccine, to protect
against cervical cancer. Your doctor
will discuss the two different vaccines
available, Gardasil and Cervarix. Boys
can also be vaccinated against HPV,
usually with the Gardasil vaccine.
It is also worth considering the
meningococcal vaccine. This is
especially relevant if your child will
be attending school or university
outside Hong Kong, for example in
Europe and North America, where
meningococcal meningitis is relatively
common. You should know that
vaccines given elsewhere may not cover
strains that are prevalent in China,
and from which your child should
also be protected. Australia and many
European countries only vaccinate
against meningitis C, whereas the
A strain is also found in Asia. The
best option may be the Menactra
or Nimenrix vaccine, both of which
provide long-lasting immunity against
meningitis A, C, W and Y strains.
This vaccine is a requirement for
attendance at most US universities. A
newly developed vaccine against the B
April 2014
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