(NEW YORK) -- It's never too early to start screening kids for medical conditions more associated with adults such as high cholesterol and depression. That's the latest recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which issued new guidelines for youngsters and adolescents in the journal Pediatrics. Dr. Joseph Hagan, co-editor of the guidelines, acknowledged, "Some changes are small, some will get people's attention."
Among the most significant changes is depression screening at ages 11 through 21 because "One in five kids will, at some point in time, meet the criteria for depression," according to Hagan. In some instances, anti-depressants might be advised.
In order to combat the obesity epidemic, the guidelines suggest having children screened for cholesterol between ages 9 and 11. Waiting longer could skew readings caused by hormonal changes that occur during puberty.
If there is a problem with high cholesterol, it can usually be dealt with through lifestyle changes rather than prescription medications.
Other health guidelines urged by the AAP include screening for HIV between 16- and 18-years-old with so many adolescents becoming sexually active. However, the group does not recommend PAP smears for girls until age 21 because it's "not unusual to find abnormalities" in younger females.
The academy also formalized a recommendation in which all newborns should undergo congenital heart disease screening that includes an oxygen saturation test called pulse oximetry.
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