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Health concerns of sexual minority adolescent girls

Brown, Joanna Da,c; Melchiono, Maurice Wb,d

doi: 10.1097/01.mop.0000236382.41531.c7
Adolescent medicine

Purpose of review The goal of this article is to provide an overview of up-to-date health information about sexual minority female youth so that healthcare practitioners can better serve their healthcare needs.

Recent findings Sexual minority adolescent girls may follow diverse sexual developmental trajectories. Many in this population are quite healthy, but some may be disproportionately vulnerable to health risks, perhaps because of the stigma associated with minority sexuality in society. If sexually active, girls in this population often have sex with boys as well as girls and confront risks attendant with sex with both genders. They may demonstrate fluidity in their sexual identity as they move through adolescence. Data suggest that sexual minority adolescent girls are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs compared with girls who are heterosexual. They may be more likely to be victims of violence or victimization or to be depressed or suicidal.

Summary Sexual minority adolescent girls may be quite resilient, but they face a range of possible adverse health risks. Healthcare practitioners should keep their health issues in mind so they can offer healthcare and counseling that is sensitive, comprehensive, and appropriate.

aDivision of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, USA

bNursing Director, Ambulatory Medicine Programs, Children's Hospital Boston, USA

cHarvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

dClinical Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Joanna D. Brown, MD, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, LO-306, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA Tel: +1 617 355 7181; fax: +1 617 730 0184; e-mail:

Supported in part by the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training grant # 5 T71MC00009-14-00 from Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.