Four new recommendations for adolescent health

The annual ‘check-up’ is the perfect time (perhaps the only one) to not only see how children are growing and give the necessary injections, but to see how they are doing more generally – and to make sure they grow up healthy and happy. adults. After all, prevention is really what pediatrics is.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a checklist for pediatricians called “Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care.” These recommendations, which are updated every few years, are based on the latest research on children’s health now and in the future.

While the last version includes new recommendations for young children, such as putting fluoride varnish on the teeth of children under 5 and taking a simple test for heart defects in newborns, most of the changes this time around are for teenagers . Here’s what the AAP thinks pediatricians should do with their preadolescent and adolescent patients:

  • Lipid screening. Sometimes high cholesterol runs in families, but parents and other relatives may not have had theirs checked or may not be aware of the test results of other family members. Since high cholesterol can cause real damage to blood vessels over time and lead to heart disease and stroke, it is recommended that all young people have their cholesterol levels checked between the ages of 9 and 11. Doctors can do it before or again depending on the risk, but the AAP wants to make sure everyone is checked at least once.
  • Screening for drug and alcohol abuse. As we all know, teenagers commonly experiment with drugs and alcohol. For some young people, this can lead to difficult and even deadly consequences. The AAP recommends asking six simple questions (called the CRAFFT screen) that can bring out really important information and enable really important conversations.
  • Screening for depression (for example, with a questionnaire). Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers – and depression is a treatable condition. But to treat it, we need to know it’s there.
  • HIV screening between 16 and 18 years old. This is important because one in four new HIV infections occurs among young people between the ages of 13 and 24, and 60% of all HIV-positive young people do not know they are infected. If they don’t know, not only can they not get help, but they can spread the infection to others.

I can imagine some parents saying, “My child doesn’t need it—our family is healthy and my child is a good, happy child who knows how to stay out of trouble.” But the simple truth is that we can never know everything about our family history or our child – and when it comes to the health and well-being of our children, prevention is always better than cure.

If you have any questions about these recommendations or anything else that does or does not happen during your child’s exam, talk to your doctor.

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