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3 new screenings for tweens and teens

Posted 6/13/2016 by JO ANN JACKSON, MD
Pediatrician, University Premier Pediatricians
Clinical Instructor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Jo Ann Jackson, MD

Jo Ann Jackson, MD

Height, weight, hearing, vision – by the time your child is a tween, you’re used to the drill of a regular checkup. Next time you head to the pediatrician, though, you may notice a few new screenings. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised the schedule of preventive care all kids should receive. Now, they say, pediatricians should check kids annually for three grown-up-sounding health problems:

HIV

“Teens and young adults account for about one-fourth of all new HIV cases,” says Jo Ann Jackson, MD, a University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s primary care pediatrician at University Premier Pediatricians. “A shocking 60 percent of them have no idea they’re infected. Symptoms may not develop until 10 or 11 years later. Meanwhile, an infected young person can spread HIV to others without knowing it.”

High cholesterol

You might not think kids need to worry about clogged arteries. But as obesity spreads, more youth than ever score high on cholesterol tests. Dr. Jackson adds, “Children with high cholesterol often turn into adults with the same problem and a high risk for heart disease.”

Anxiety and depression

Suicide now ranks as a leading cause of death among teens. Doctors hope they can reverse this trend by detecting anxiety and depression early. “Seek treatment immediately if you hear talk of wanting to ‘disappear,’ ‘end it,’ or ‘die.’ Make a trip to the emergency room if you fear your child will hurt himself or others,” says Dr. Jackson.

Here are the screening guidelines for each condition, including diagnosis and treatment:
Condition Screening age Diagnosis Treatment
HIV Teens, ages 16 to 18 Blood test There is no cure for HIV, however medications can lower the levels of the virus in the blood and treat related health problems
High cholesterol Adolescents, ages 9 to 11 Blood test Regular exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Anxiety and depression Adolescents and young adults, ages 11 to 21 Evaluation to identify symptoms, such as lack of energy, trouble focusing or changes in sleep and eating habits Prescription medication, counseling or both

Schedule that checkup. Regular checkups are important to maintain your child's health. Go to Rainbow.org/PrimaryCare to find a Rainbow doctor at a location near you.


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