Depression, cholesterol and HIV tests for kids

Updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend for the first time that adolescents should be screened for depression and older teens should be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Last revised in 2008, the Periodicity Schedule advises pediatricians on the various tests and screenings children should get at routine wellness checkups from birth through 21 years.

Some of the key changes in the 2014 Recommendations for Pediatric Preventive Health Care:

  • Children ages 11 through 21 should be screened yearly for depression, an addition prompted by suicide being a leading cause of death among adolescents.
  • Teens should be screened for HIV once sometime between ages 16 and 18.
  • Children should be screened for abnormal cholesterol levels once between ages 9 and 11 years. Pediatricians didn’t routinely test cholesterol levels until at least age 18, but the earlier screening has been added because of increasing rates of childhood obesity.
  • Girls should not have Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer until they turn 21 (and presumably are no longer under a pediatrician’s care). Pap tests previously were done as early as age 11.
  • Newborns should be screened for congenital heart disease before they leave the hospital using a pulse oximeter (a probe placed on the finger that measures oxygen levels in the blood).

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