Age 10-24 years proposed as the new definition of adolescence


Dr KK Aggarwal    24 January 2018


An article published January 17, 2018 in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health has said that “rather than age 10–19 years, a definition of 10–24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase”.

This new definition reflects the changing patterns, both biologically as well as socially, because of lifestyle changes. The earlier occurrence of puberty has hastened the onset of adolescence. Parallel to this, the delayed timing of social role transitions, including completion of education, marriage and parenthood have shifted the perception of the age when transition to adulthood takes place. Today young people are getting married and having children much later. They are also becoming more economically independent later than ever. "Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later."

“An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies, and service systems”, say the authors.

Susan M Sawyer from the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, the lead author said, “Rather than age 10-19 years, a definition of 10-24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings.”

WHO defines an adolescent as an individual between the age of 10 and 19 years and Youth as individuals in the age group 15-24 years. The new proposed definition of adolescents falls within the definition of young people as per the WHO i.e. individuals aged between the age of 10 and 19 years.

Do adolescents come under the purview of Pediatrics or Internal Medicine? This has always been a contentious issue. If this definition gains acceptance, this age group would fall in the domain of Internal Medicine and not Pediatrics.

(Source: Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, bbc.com


Dr KK Aggarwal


Padma Shri Awardee Vice President CMAAO Group Editor-in-chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

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