Puberty and Health.
Puberty is a public concern, as in Nepalese cultural/traditional/religious society attaining puberty for young age girls is not less concerned than any religious event whereas, puberty is a developmental stage which begins around 8-14 year on girls and 10-16 on boys. This is a stage where younger children gain sexual maturity and their body achieve reproductive fertility including series of physiological changes to accompany secondary sexual characteristics.
Puberty onset is influenced by heredity, body weight (obesity/malnourished), height, and diet because such factors directly influence hormonal secretion on the body. Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary gland which acts on gonads(ovaries/testicles) to release estrogen/progesterone and testosterone to support gametogenesis. A protein-rich diet like meat, fish, egg, beans, nuts, oats, dairy products are prioritized along with fruits, vegetables, and a balanced amount of carbohydrate-rich food like potatoes, rice, grains, starchy vegetables, pasta, etc. This plays a vital role in a child's physical growth and reproductive health. Regular physical activities, weight, and height monitoring according to age, yoga, meditation supports the body to prepare for healthy puberty.
Young children as well as parents should be well aware of growth and development and should take part accordingly which helps younger ones to accept and achieve changes. Physical changes, developmental changes, physiological changes, brain changes, social and emotional changes take place at their peak during adolescence. Girls start developing breasts, growth spurt, body shape changes, external genitals(vulva) and pubic hair starts to grow at age of 10-11years whereas underarm hairs, vaginal whitish discharge, menstruation cycle begins at age of 12-14years. Boys at 11-13 gains external genitals growth (penis, testes, scrotum), pubic hair appears whereas at 12-14 years of age they show growth spurt, minor breast development and at age 13-15 years hair growth on different parts of the body, sperm formation, and production take place. Accordingly, boys encounter voice changes at age of 14-15years.
The role of parents in our community basis is fragile. Most of the typical Nepalese families in a rural area rather ignore and follow superstitious practices during the puberty of their children. Having a conversation about reproductive health is considered as immoral talks on many families. Social norms, values, and religious practices made people shy to express their concern on puberty health of their own children. At the same time, younger children are found struggling to adjust and understand developmental changes within themselves. Parents should act as mentors in this developmental process of an adult form of your child. They should accept child’s need for privacy, show a positive attitude, stay interested in their needs or when they want to talk, stay calm (mood changes may take place), talk about their problems like acne, pain, cramps of menstruation, social relationship, fear, insecurities, physical shape, reproductive health care, and cleanliness. Parents can foster positive independence during puberty.
Key points :
• Puberty is a dynamic period of development.
• Diet and physical activeness improve growth and development.
• Awareness of growth and development are equally important to younger children and parents.
• Physiological and physical changes are vital where guidance/counseling, support/care, understanding of growth and development is important.
• Parents are the best mentors for shaping adolescent behavioral and moral well-being.
• Psychological struggle of adjustment and understanding of teenagers can be addressed by social and family support.
• Love and affection with close monitoring allowing them privacy plays a major role.
• Independence on basic activities and self-care gained by children can be guided and monitored at this age.
• Listening to younger children's insecurities and the hazards they are facing are vital.
• Physical health is directly proportional to mental health and social well-being.
RN Binita Khatiwada Itahari-9, Sunsari,