Start Testing Children for Depression and Other Disorders at Age 11

Regular doctor visits are necessary for children no matter what their age. But regular screening for diseases and disorders like depression, HIV, and high cholesterol are also recommended for children. Although these disorders are usually considered adult concerns, evidence now shows that individuals are showing greater tendency toward obesity, contracting HIV, and depression at earlier ages. The sooner you get you child checked, the sooner you can put your mind at ease knowing your child is healthy and happy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes a summary of recommendations every year to advise pediatricians on health screenings. Their most recent Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care was published on December 7, 2015 in the journal Pediatrics. The guidelines “emphasize the great importance of continuity of care in comprehensive health supervision and the need to avoid fragmentation of care.” Of course, each child is different, emphasizes the AAP, and should therefore be screened on an as-needed basis. If circumstances suggest other than a normal care of the child, additional screenings may be warranted.

2016’s recommendations show the following:

  • Body Mass Index should be screened every year starting at 24 months
  • Sensory screening including vision and hearing should be conducted regularly from birth
  • Drug and alcohol use risk assessment should be conducted as early as 11 years 
  • Depression screening should take place at 11 years 
  • Dyslipidemia screening for high blood cholesterol should begin at 24 months and take place every two years after that until age eight, when screening should take place every year hence
  • HIV screening is recommended at 11 years
  • Cervical dysplasia screening for pre-cancerous cells should take place at 21 years

New stats for disorders and diseases

If you think your child is at risk, it is important to talk to a doctor and have your child screened. The AAP has determined the following regarding new statistics for disorders and diseases:

  • Evidence shows that fewer new vision problems develop in low-risk young adults.
  • Dental cavities are the top chronic disease affecting young children.
  • Pediatricians are advised to use the CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Forget, Friends, Trouble) screening questionnaire as a tool to screen adolescents for drug and alcohol use.
  • Suicide is now a leading cause of death among adolescents.
  • Obesity in children is a growing concern.
  • Federal statistics show that 1 in 4 new HIV infections occurs in youth ages 13 to 24 years old, and that about 60% of all youth with HIV do not know they are infected.

All changes to the 2016 screening recommendations are in reaction to statistics that have been discovered over the past two years. Changes have been made to these recommendations since 2007, but the most significant have been from 2014. The AAP gleans their research mainly from their own doctors but also from various other sites, including the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute and The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. All aspects of a person’s health is included in the recommendations, from oral health to gynecological health, cardiovascular health, and brain health. Put your concerns at rest by following the guidelines set in place by the AAP.