How old should children be before their doctors start annual depression screenings? According to revised guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the suggested age is 11. The national physician group also suggests pediatricians check middle school-age children's cholesterol levels, test 16 to 18-year-olds for HIV, and not perform pap smears in girls younger than 21.
As reported in a Health Day story:
The changes attempt to address several pressing health issues affecting U.S. families today. The nation's obesity epidemic means that children are developing high cholesterol levels -- a risk factor for heart disease -- at earlier ages. And depression is linked to higher risk for teen suicides and murder.
"One in five kids will, at some point in time, meet the criteria for depression," said [Joseph Hagan, MD, co-editor of the guidelines and] a professor in pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.
The article continues with explanations for specific changes. A full version of the updated guidelines was published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics.