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Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they become an adult. Girls develop breasts and start their periods, and boys develop a deeper voice and start to look like men.
The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11, while for boys the average age is 12. But there’s no set timetable, so don’t worry if your child reaches puberty before or after their friends. It’s completely normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages of 8 to 14. The process takes about four years overall.
Children who begin puberty either very early (before the age of 8) or very late (after 14) should see a doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.
Read more about puberty problems.
This page covers:
After a year or so of puberty beginning, and for the next couple of years:
After a year or so of puberty starting, and for the next couple of years:
Puberty can be a difficult time for children. They're coping with changes in their body, and possibly acne or body odour as well, at a time when they feel self-conscious.
Puberty can also be an exciting time, as children develop new emotions and feelings. But the "emotional rollercoaster" they’re on can have psychological and emotional effects, such as:
If children are worried or confused about any part of puberty, it may help them to talk to a close friend or relative.
Over recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK. Evidence is still developing on how effective they are, but many people have found them helpful for quitting.
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking.
E-cigarettes work by heating and creating a vapour from a solution that typically contains nicotine; a thick, colourless liquid called propylene glycol and/or glycerine; and flavourings. As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar and carbon monoxide – two of the main toxins in conventional cigarette smoke. The vapour from e-cigarettes has been found to contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
E-cigarettes are still fairly new and we won’t have a full picture on their safety until they have been in use for many years. However, on current evidence, they carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and they can help you stop smoking.
If you want to use an e-cigarette to help you quit, you’ll give yourself the best chance if you get expert support from your local NHS stop smoking service.
Find your nearest NHS stop smoking service from the NHS Smokefree website, or call the Smokefree National Helpline to speak to a trained adviser on 0300 123 1044.
In the year up to April 2015, two out of three people who used e-cigarettes in combination with the NHS stop smoking service quit smoking successfully.
Different things work for different people and, particularly if you’ve already tried other methods of quitting smoking without success, you might want to give e-cigarettes a go.
Read more about stopping smoking using e-cigarettes.
Currently, there are no e-cigarettes on the market that are licensed as medicines, meaning they are not available on prescription from the NHS.
Once medicinally licensed e-cigarette products come onto the market, GPs and stop smoking services will be able to prescribe them alongside other stop smoking medicines.
Read about other stop smoking treatments.
Most of us need to eat more fibre and have fewer added sugars in our diet. Eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
Government guidelines published in July 2015 say that our dietary fibre intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet. As most adults are only eating an average of about 18g day, we need to find ways of increasing our intake.
Children under the age of 16 don't need as much fibre in their diet as older teenagers and adults, but they still need more than they get currently:
On average, children and teenagers are only getting around 15g or less of fibre a day. Encouraging them to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods (choosing wholegrain versions and potatoes with the skins on where possible) can help to ensure they are eating enough fibre.
Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.
Find out more about the importance of fibre and when you may need to reduce your intake, in Why is fibre important?
It's important to get fibre from a variety of sources, as eating too much of one type of food may not provide you with a healthy balanced diet.
To increase your fibre intake you could:
Listed below is the fibre content of some example meals.
Two thick slices of wholemeal toasted bread (6.5g of fibre) topped with one sliced banana (1.4g) and a small glass of fruit smoothie drink (1.5g) will give you around 9.4g of fibre.
A baked jacket potato with the skin on (2.6g) with a 200g portion of reduced-sugar and reduced-salt baked beans in tomato sauce (9.8g) followed by an apple (1.2g) will give you around 13.6g of fibre.
Mixed vegetable tomato-based curry cooked with onion and spices (3.3g) with wholegrain rice (2.8g) followed by a lower fat fruit yoghurt (0.4g) will give you around 6.5g of fibre. Bear in mind that fruit yoghurts can sometimes be high in added sugars, so check the label and try to choose lower-sugar versions.
A small handful of nuts can have up to 3g of fibre. Make sure you choose unsalted nuts, such as plain almonds, without added sugars.
Total: Around 32.5g of fibre
The above example is only an illustration, as the amount of fibre in any food can depend on how it is made or prepared and on how much of it you eat. Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label on the side or back of the packaging, which often gives you a guide about how much dietary fibre the food contains.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous, especially for children. The best way to protect loved ones is to quit smoking. At the very least, make sure you have a smokefree home and car.
When you smoke a cigarette (or roll-up, pipe or cigar), most of the smoke doesn't go into your lungs, it goes into the air around you where anyone nearby can breathe it in.
Secondhand smoke is the smoke that you exhale plus the 'sidestream' smoke created by the lit end of your cigarette.
When friends and family breathe in your secondhand smoke – what we call passive smoking – it isn't just unpleasant for them, it can damage their health too.
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke are more prone to premature birth and their baby is more at risk of low birthweight and cot death.
The only surefire way to protect your friends and family from secondhand smoke is to keep the environment around them smoke free.
The best way to do that is to quit smoking completely. If you're not ready to quit, make every effort to keep your cigarette smoke away from other people and never smoke indoors or in the car.
Secondhand smoke is a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances.
Most secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you're being, people around you still breathe in the harmful poisons.
Opening windows and doors or smoking in another room in the house doesn't protect people. Smoke can linger in the air for two to three hours after you've finished a cigarette, even with a window open. And even if you limit smoking to one room, the smoke will spread to the rest of the house where people can inhale it.
Passive smoking is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
It's estimated that more than one in five children in the UK live in a household where at least one person smokes and, as a result, they're more likely to develop:
Children are particularly vulnerable in the family car where secondhand smoke can reach hazardous levels even with the windows open.
It's estimated that smoking in cars produces concentrations of toxins up to 11 times higher than you used to find in the average smoky pub.
To protect children, there is a new ban on smoking in cars and other vehicles carrying children. From October 1 2015 it is against the law to smoke in a private vehicle if there’s a young person under-18 present.
Read about the new law on smoking in private vehicles.
E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke so the risks of passive smoking with conventional cigarettes don't apply to e-cigs.
Research into this area is ongoing, but it seems that e-cigs release negligible amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere and the limited evidence available suggests that any risk from passive vaping to bystanders is small relative to tobacco cigarettes.
In England, the Government has no plans to ban vaping indoors (although some employers have banned them in the workplace) but some health professionals recommend avoiding using them around pregnant women, babies and children.
Read about the safety of e-cigarettes.
Your GP can give you advice about quitting smoking.
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