A pediatrics group called The American Academy of Pediatrics will be including more preventative tests in a new set of guidelines for children’s checkups that were released today. These tests affect children from infants to teenagers. One of the tests is a screening that looks for congenital heart disease in newborns; that test is performed before an infant goes home from the hospital. The test itself is an oxygen saturation test called a pulse oximitry that will be given to all newborns. Dr. Joseph Hagan, a co-author of the guidelines, said that this test is currently performed but the recommendation for the test was written more formally.
Children between the ages of 11 and 21 will be screened for depression by asking the adolescent a few questions. Dr. Hagan said that if the test points to depression then doctors can decide how severe the depression is as well as refer the child to a social worker or psychologist for further evaluations and treatment. The doctor might also prescribe antidepressants if they feel it is necessary. He also says that the main question doctors should ask is if the parents have any firearms in the home. If they do, then the doctor should ask the parents to move the firearms to another house. They should not lock up the firearms or keep the ammunition separate from the firearms. He says that a smart and determined adolescent will find them.
Children between the ages of 9 to 11 will be screened for cholesterol. The pediatrics group says that it is more difficult to get the proper readings for cholesterol during adolescence because of hormonal changes. Children’s LDL and total cholesterol levels will be checked in the test only once. Before doctors did not check cholesterol until children were between age 18 to age 21. Dr. Geoffrey Simon, another co-author of the guidelines and a pediatrician at Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Wilmington, Delaware, said that the test was changed because doctors are aware that children are at an immense risk for an inherited condition called familial hyperlipidemia as well as heart disease; these children do not have risk factors that are identifiable in adulthood. He also says that some children might look healthy so it is important to screen them earlier in life. Hagan says that lifestyle changes will be recommended instead of medications to avoid potential heart risks. He also says that the test can show cholesterol problems that may have been passed down from the child’s parents.
Dr. Simon said that the guidelines that were released today are meant to benefit kids to grow up healthier by screening them more effectively for developmental and health issues that can impact them as a child and as an adult. Dr. Simon, the chairman for the committee who wrote the guidelines, said that these changes are minor. The new updated guidelines that are followed during checkups were published today and is going to appear in the journal titled Pediatrics in March.
A new set of guidelines released by The American Academy of Pediatrics will help diagnose children better. The group’s guidelines include preventative tests for both children and adolescents that screen for cholesterol, depression as well as other health problems. Infants who are 15 to 30 months old will be screened for iron-deficiency anemia. If low iron levels are caught early toddlers can avoid learning delays. Young women will not be screened for cervical ailments until the age of 21. Young women will are not screened before that age for pre-cancerous signs of the cervix because cervical cancer is rare at young ages. Dr. Hagan says that the guidelines are recommended content for children’s well-visit checkups. He says that some of these changes are small while others will get people’s attention.
By Jordan Bonte