• Vol. 32 No. 1, 3–6
  • 15 January 2003

The Perils of Puberty

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ABSTRACT

Puberty and adolescence represent a transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, and are defined by the attainment of secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive capability, occurring concomitantly with psychological and social development. The perils of puberty lie in the difficult and complex inter-relationship of biological, psychological and social changes, as the adolescent strives to adjust to new social roles and identities, and new reproductive capacities. An appreciation of these changes in normal puberty is essential to all professionals caring for adolescents.


Adolescence is a biopsychosocial maturational process, with the biological changes including completion of linear growth and sexual maturation (puberty), maturation of enzyme systems such as cytochrome P450 systems, accretion of peak bone mass, and the development of sexually dimorphic adult patterns in blood lipids, blood pressure, haemoglobin and red cell indices. Puberty is defined as the attainment of secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive capability, and occurs alongside rapid psychological and social development during early and mid-adolescence.

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