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American Academy of Pediatrics Announces First Recommendations on Body Modification in Youth

American Academy of Pediatrics Announces First Recommendations on Body Modification in Youth

The AAP's report gives an overview of types and methods, as well as possible complications of body modifications.

With the rise in popularity of tattoos, piercings, and body modification, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first-ever recommendations on body modification Sept. 18. The clinical report gives an overview of the types and methods used for tattoos, piercings, and body modification, as well as details on possible medical complications. The AAP suggests parents and children discuss these possible complications with their pediatrician.

“Tattooing is much more accepted than it was 15 to 20 years ago,” said Lead author Cora C. Breuner, M.D., chair of the AAP Committee on Adolescence, in a press release. “In many states, teens have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo, but the regulations vary from place to place. When counseling teens, I tell them to do some research, and to think hard about why they want a tattoo, and where on their body they want it.”

Other key findings in the tattoo, piercing, and body modification recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics include:

  • Though tattoos, piercings, and body modification have become more mainstream and socially acceptable, a 2014 survey revealed that 76 percent of those surveyed said they believed a tattoo or piercing hurt their chances of getting a job.
  • While body modification was often associated with adolescent high-risk behaviors, the scientific link between tattoos and risky behaviors is less consistent today.
  • Complications from tattoo placement are unknown, and the most serious complication from any form of body modification is infection.
  • Anyone getting a tattoo or piercing should make sure the salon is sterile, clean, and reputable. The facility should be regulated by the state and provide care tips while the tattoo or piercing is healing. The salon should also practice infection control like at a doctor’s office, so check that the tattoo artist or piercer is using new, clean instruments.
  • Those considering a tattoo or piercing should ensure their immunizations are up-to-date, and that they aren’t taking medication that compromises their immunity.

“In most cases, teens just enjoy the look of the tattoo or piercing, but we do advise them to talk any decision over with their parents or another adult first,” said David Levine, M.D., co-author of the report in the press release. “They may not realize how expensive it is to remove a tattoo, or how a piercing on your tongue might result in a chipped tooth.”


Tattoos and Piercings: What Parents Should Know

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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the former editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has 20+ years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. To unplug in her free time, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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