American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its updated
list of recommended health care screenings for children, which
includes checking for depression, high cholesterol and HIV.
Mayo Clinic Children’s Center pediatrician Dr. Angela Mattke
says the revised recommendations are a "firm affirmative
to pediatricians that doing these screenings or testing will
be beneficial to the child’s health."
visits are another name for routine checkups or physicals.
"Much of the AAP Preventive Health Care Screening and
Assessment Schedule for Children’s Checkups includes
screening as opposed to skipping straight to testing,"
Mattke says. "Screening usually involves asking questions
pertaining to the subject or using a validated screening tool
such as the CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Forget, Friends, Trouble) for
drug and alcohol use or PHQ-9 Modified (depression screening
tool) to make sure questions are asked in such a way that have
been shown to pick up children and teens at risk for whatever
they are screening for."
stresses that screening children is necessary because some
children are at risk for these health conditions, the rate of
the conditions is increasing in younger age groups, and
without screening, they may go undiagnosed and suffer serious
SCREENING EVERY YEAR FROM AGES 11 THROUGH 21
screening is so important. Mood disorders and suicide rates
increased over the last couple of decades," Mattke says.
"At least 10 percent of my practice is treating children
with depression and anxiety. If we don’t ask them about it
in a safe manner, they may not disclose."
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING FOR CHILDREN BETWEEN 9 AND 11 YEARS
or screening children beginning at age 9 for high blood
cholesterol levels may help reduce the national trend of
increased childhood obesity. Mattke says by addressing high
cholesterol in childhood, we can impact their adult risk
factors for early coronary artery disease. She adds that
teaching children and families about healthy diets and the
importance of physical activity is a start.
SCREENING FOR ADOLESCENTS BETWEEN 16 AND 18 YEARS
rates are still increasing in this age group. Catching it
early can mean a large difference in their overall health and
ability to give it to other people through unprotected
sex," Mattke says.
PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS
recommendations, says Mattke, should "give confidence to
parents and guardians that their pediatricians are trying to
give their children the best, evidence-based care. We do these
screenings because they can impact the health and well-being
of their child in a positive way."
IN THE SCREENING GUIDELINES
recommendation for routine vision screening at age 18 has been
changed to risk-based assessment, based on evidence showing
that fewer new vision problems develop in low-risk young
help reduce dental cavities, the top chronic disease affecting
young children, a recommendation has been added for fluoride
varnish applications from six months through 5 years.
Pediatricians are advised to use the CRAFFT (Car, Relax,
Alone, Friends, Trouble) screening questionnaire as a tool to
screen adolescents for drug and alcohol use.
Depression screening has been added, with suggested screenings
every year from ages 11 through 21. Suicide is now a leading
cause of death among adolescents.
screening for dyslipidemia, or high blood cholesterol levels,
has been added for patients between 9 and 11 years old. The
change reflected concerns about the growing epidemic of
obesity in children.
risk assessment has been added at 15 and 30 months for
hematocrit or hemoglobin screening to help detect anemia, an
HIV screen was added for adolescents between 16 and 18 years
to address federal statistics showing that 1 in 4 new HIV
infections occurs in youth ages 13 to 24 years old, and that
about 60 percent of all youth with HIV do not know they are
Screen for cervical dysplasia, the presence of precancerous
cells on the surface of the cervix, only at 21 years (instead
of risk assessment every year from ages 11 through 21).
screening for critical congenital heart disease using pulse
oximetry has been added and should be performed in the
hospital before newborn discharge.