An updated pediatric schedule released this week includes several changes and new additions to the recommended screenings and health assessments done between infancy and adolescence.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released the new guidelines on Feb. 23, recommending for the first time that healthy teens are screened for new conditions at their check ups, and that routine screenings for some conditions, such as depression, begin at a younger age.
The last time the guidelines were updated was in 2007.
- Cholesterol testing recommended for youths between ages 9 and 11
All children ages 9 to 11 years old, regardless of their family history of heart disease or risk factors, are being advised to have their total and HDL cholesterol checked. The previous guidelines set the age of 18 to begin screening.
- New guidelines for doctors to evaluate risk for drug and alcohol
Previous recommendations called for assessing young people, ages 11 to 21, for their risk of drug and alcohol use; but pediatricians lacked guidelines for the evaluation.
- Teens should be screened for HIV
It’s recommended that sexually active people ages 11 to 21 are screened for sexually transmitted infections. The newest guidelines have added HIV testing, suggesting that all teens over age 16 should be screened for HIV.
- Youths should be screened for depression
For the first time, 11 year-old patients will be asked a few quick questions about their moods.
- Screening young women for cervical problems delayed until age 21
Routine testing in teenage girls for precancerous signs in the cervix is no longer advised because it’s rare at younger ages.
- Newborns should have blood oxygen levels checked before leaving the hospital
Babies need to be tested early in life for serious heart defects present at birth.
- Iron-deficiency anemia screening should be done for 15- to 30-month-old children
Early detection of low iron levels in toddlers could help prevent learning delays.
“The goal is to help kids grow up healthier by more effectively screening them for health and developmental issues that can have a real impact on their health during childhood and as adults,” guidelines co-author Dr. Geoffrey Simon, a pediatrician at Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Wilmington, Delaware, told Fox News.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at www.SCRhyne.com