Screening for cholesterol, depression and HIV may sound like cautionary tests doctors take for their adult patients. But new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for some of these tests to begin routinely as young as the age of 9.
Health Day reports about the new guidelines published in the journal Pediatrics that encourages doctors to begin screening children for depression, high cholesterol and HIV. The recommendations make clear that the new screenings should be for all children within certain age groups regardless of their risk factors or background.
It is now recommended that children between the ages of 9 and 11 begin to get cholesterol screenings. These new guidelines for cholesterol screenings come from new studies that show 20% of teens have high cholesterol levels and this trend can start even earlier. Pediatrician Dr. Amanda Porro explains, “We do see high cholesterol in kids as young as 9 or 10. It's not just adults anymore.” But unlike adults, who often go on cholesterol lowering meds, Dr. Porro says that more exercise and a healthier diet can be prescribed to children who have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
The new guidelines also say that kids as young as 11 should begin having annual screenings for depression. Since suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents, looking for the early signs of depression can make a huge difference for the future of a lot of kids. Early symptoms like inability to sleep and loss of appetite are often overlooked by parents. Doctors also explain that catching depression early can make it possible for doctors to intervene and treat without the necessity for anti-depressant medications.
The HIV screenings are recommended for teens ages 16 - 18 that have divulged about previous drug use or sexual activity. The 13 - 24 age group account for 25% of new HIV cases and getting teens used to going for routine screenings can greatly reduce these numbers.
What do you think of the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics?
Do you think some of these tests are being given too young or are they right on track?