Monday marks the release of the new screening guidelines for babies by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The news seems good for children when seen in terms of health as it encourages more preventive testing in children from HIV to cholesterol. As per the new updated guidelines, children will be tested for cholesterol, congenital heart disease, anemia, teeth, HIV testing, depression, drugs and alcohol, vision and cervical dysplasia.
The new guidelines state that children aged between 9 and 11 should be screened for high blood cholesterol levels. The pediatricians believe that the screening children for high cholesterol levels will reflect concerns about the epidemic of obesity in children. Dr. Geoffrey Simon, Nemours DuPont Pediatrics in Wilmington, Delaware, said determining cholesterol levels at early age does not mean that the kids are obese. It is simply a step to identify risk factors early on.
Dr. Stephen Daniels, spokesperson of the American Heart Association and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado, said the new step is just the way not to focus on children but also to focus the whole family. The new guidelines also include screening for critical congenital heart disease using pulse oximetry that needs to be performed in the hospital before newborn discharge. The third recommendation that has been added to guidelines is screening of teeth for 6 months baby to 5 years old child. The fourth recommendation, for children aged between 11 and 21, that has been added to guidelines in depression, which is the leading cause of deaths in adolescents.
Earlier recommendable age for screening of vision is 18 years, which has now been changed based on the evidence that fewer vision problems arise in low-risk young adults. Another recommendation included in guidelines involves screening for the presence of pre-cancerous cells on the surface of the cervix, only at 21 years of age. The last but not the least recommendation included in the guideline involves the testing of HIV. Teens as young as 16-18 are advised to have HIV screening at least once in a health care setting. The latest statistical report shows that one in four HIV infections are at the age of 13 to 24 years with 60% of infected teens are unaware of the fact that they are the victim of the disease.
Dr. Lee Beers, Medical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs, Children's National Health System, said "We know from national surveys that adolescents are having sex and are not good about having protection. They don't think long term."