Top 10 Health Concerns for Girls

  • Girls Having Fun
    What to Look for and Ways to Protect Her Health
    Girls spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, and not necessarily about what is good or bad for them. But many teen and preteen girls are at risk of potentially serious health problems. Some conditions, such as obesity and depression, can affect girls no matter what their age. Other health concerns, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and dating violence, typically affect older girls. Get the facts on what's facing girls in today's world and what you and your daughter can do about it.  
  • overweight-women-relaxing-at-home
    1. Obesity
    Some 23.9 million children and teens are overweight—30.4% are girls. And 12.7 million are obese—with 15% of them girls. Being overweight or obese is linked to chronic health conditions and can cause health problems that are unusual for children and teens. In addition, overweight or obese girls are at risk of abnormal periods and polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition causing infertility, excess hair growth, acne, and male-type baldness. Fortunately, obesity and its consequences are usually preventable and reversible. If your child has a problem with overweight or obesity, open up a discussion with your daughter’s primary care doctor if you haven’t already.
  • unhappy teen
    2. Alcohol and Drug Abuse
    Almost half of high school girls drink alcohol, more than 25% of them smoke and binge drink, one in five use marijuana, and roughly 4% use cocaine and inhalants. Prescription drug abuse is also a problem. Peer pressure, stress, and feeling invincible are a few reasons kids experiment with alcohol and drugs. But experimentation is more likely to lead to abuse in girls. This puts them at risk of serious health issues, including depression, suicide or injury, lung and brain damage, and risky sexual behavior. Talk to your daughter about substance abuse and know the signs. Be sure to always leave ample time in the conversation to listen!
  • Group of teenagers in car laughing
    3. Injuries
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for U.S. girls ages 10 to 19. Most unintentional injuries are due to motor-vehicle accidents, drowning, poisoning, burns, falls, sports and recreational activities, misuse of firearms, choking, suffocation, and animal bites. Texting and driving is a new dangerous combination, particularly among teen drivers. Unlike accidents that occur by chance, unintentional injuries are predictable and preventable with safety measures. Find out more about preventing injuries.
  • depressed-teen-on-bed
    4. Depression and Anxiety
    Teen and preteen girls can suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, more than one-third of high school girls say they regularly feel sad or hopeless. And anxiety disorders affect about 8% of teens 13 to 18 years old. Untreated mental health problems can have dire consequences, including suicide. Fortunately, with early intervention, most mental health problems can be treated successfully. Learn to spot the warning signs of depression and find out how to help.
  • girl-with-weight-scale
    5. Eating Disorders
    The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both stem from an obsessive fear of weight gain. One to two out of every 100 teens suffers with an eating disorder, which usually start between 13 and 17 years of age. An eating disorder is a real illness that can lead to serious health problems, such as heart conditions, kidney failure, and death. Eating disorders can go undetected for years, creating deep-seeded habits that are difficult to break. But eating disorders can be overcome, so learn the signs.
  • Young Caucasian woman looking upset or angry as boyfriend or husband tries to comfort her
    6. Dating Violence
    Dating violence is a situation in which a boyfriend purposely hurts or scares a girl. In the United States, one in 10 high school girls admits that a partner has physically abused her in the past year. But dating violence can take many forms—physical, emotional and sexual—and can cause serious harm. What’s more, teenage girls in abusive relationships are much more likely to get pregnant. Because they lack experience, teen girls need help identifying unhealthy relationships and leaving them. Find out more 
  • Multi-ethnic teenaged couple eating candied apples
    7. STDs and Teen Pregnancy
    Seven out of 10 teens lose their virginity by age 19. And each year, some 750,000 teen girls get pregnant, accounting for 10% of U.S. births. Teen pregnancy poses health risks to girls and interferes with their education. In addition, sexually active girls are at risk of getting STDs, which can lead to serious health problems, including infertility and cervical cancer. So start a conversation with your daughter today, because teens who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity, have fewer partners, and use birth control when they do have sex.
  • Young Caucasian woman at desk in front of electric fan and fanning herself with folder
    8. Internet and Smartphone Risks
    Cyberspace can be a dangerous place and the risks are real. Behind the screen can lurk pedophiles and other criminals who misrepresent themselves. Kids may not realize that the photos, texts and information they post are permanent. Screenshots can capture almost anything. What’s more, strangers can often access these postings. But predators are not always strangers. Cyberspace can provide a forum for bullying, a major cause of depression. Talk to your daughter about safety in cyberspace.
  • Girl tanning on the beach
    9. Teen Tanning
    One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And the damage starts early. One severe burn as a child increases your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. And tanning beds aren't safe alternatives. In fact, they may be even more dangerous than natural sunlight. The machine’s ultraviolet radiation can be stronger and there is no filter like ozone in the atmosphere. Encourage your daughter to take the risk of skin cancer seriously and care for her skin by avoiding tanning.
  • tattoo-parlor
    10. Tattoos and Piercing
    More and more young people are using tattoos and body piercing as a means of self-expression. If an experienced professional performs the tattooing or piercing in a safe and clean environment, the risks can be minimized. However, without proper precautions, girls are at risk of getting an infection. The infections associated with tattoos and piercings can be serious and include hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. If you consent to a tattoo or piercing, do your research and find a reputable professional.
  • girl-at-music-festival-with-friends
    What You Can Do Now
    You could easily become overwhelmed worrying about your teenage daughter’s health and well-being. Instead of worrying, talk to your daughter and be an active listener when she responds. Teens often lack the maturity and judgment skills needed to navigate many of these concerns. Make sure there are other trustworthy adults—relatives, teachers, youth leaders, coaches, doctors—she can turn to if she’s hesitant to talk to you.
Top 10 Health Concerns for Girls
  1. CDC Data & Statistics - Overweight and Obesity
  2. When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem. TeensHealth from Nemours.
  3. The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls And Young Women Ages 8-22. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
  4. Leading Cause of Death by Age Group, All Females-United States 2009. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. Children and Teens. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents
  6. Depression in Children and Adolescents. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health.
  7. Depression in Women. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health.
  8. Eating Disorders. TeensHealth from Nemours.
  9. Childhood obesity and risk of pediatric multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome. Langer-Gould A, et al. Neurology, 2013;80(6):548-52.
  10. Body Piercing. TeensHealth from Nemours.
  11. Tattoos. TeensHealth from Nemours.
  12. About Sexually Transmitted Diseases. TeensHealth from Nemours.
  13. American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health. Guttmacher Institute.
  14. Skin Cancer Myths vs. Facts. Skin Cancer Foundation.
  15. Skin Cancer Myths and Facts. Texas Oncology.
  16. What You Need to Know About Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute.
  17. Dating violence. Office on Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  18. Internet Safety for Teens. University of Florida.
  19. Talking to Kids About Sex and Sexuality. Planned Parenthood.
  20. Distracted Driving Is Dangerous. Federal Communications Commission.
  21. 8 Way to Talk With Your Teen About Drugs and Alcohol. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
  22. Preventing Unintentional Injuries Overview. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  23. Online Safety. TeensHealth from Nemours.

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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.