New Screenings Your Kids and Teens Need

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised the schedule of preventive care all kids should receive. Now, it advises, doctors should check kids for three grown-up-sounding health problems. Here’s why.

1. HIV

Teens and young adults account for about one-fourth of all new HIV cases. Symptoms may not develop until 10 or 11 years later. Meanwhile an infected young person can spread HIV to others without knowing it.

Health experts suggest young people ages 16 to 18 be screened. Blood tests can spot antibodies to the virus or the virus itself. Though there’s no cure, medications can lower blood levels of the virus and also treat related health problems.

2. Cholesterol

As obesity spreads, more youth than ever score high on cholesterol tests. Children with high cholesterol often turn into adults with the same problem—and a high risk for heart disease.

The new guidelines advise that kids between ages 9 and 11 undergo cholesterol screening. If one blood test comes back high, the doctor will do another at least two weeks later to confirm. A healthy diet—including lots of fruits and vegetables—and regular exercise can help bring down your child’s numbers.

3. Depression

Suicide now ranks as a leading cause of death among teens. Doctors hope they can reverse this trend by finding depression early. Treatment includes medications, counseling or both.

Once a year from ages 11 to 21, the pediatrician may ask your child questions to uncover mood issues. Don’t wait for the next checkup to discuss warning signs with your child’s healthcare team, however. These include not enjoying things that used to bring happiness, lack of energy, changes in sleep and eating habits, and trouble focusing.

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