This morning, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an update of its Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care, otherwise known as the periodicity schedule. This document is used by pediatricians as a guideline for when healthy children should receive certain screenings and preventive health care. The periodicity schedule is updated yearly to encompass any new and revised recommendations published by the AAP. Several recommendations made by the APP throughout 2015 are reflected in the 2016 Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care. There were many changes made to the 2015 periodicity schedule, and only a few are highlighted below.
Multiple screening recommendations were added to the 2016 periodicity schedule. It is now recommended that children between 9 and 11 years old are screened for high blood cholesterol levels. The AAP indicates that this change was made due to concerns about America’s current childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, the AAP now recommends adolescents 16 to 18 years old receive an HIV screen. This recommendation is due to recent federal statistics indicating that 1 in 4 new HIV infections occurs in youth ages 13 to 24 years old.
The screening updates also include the recommendation that youth ages 11 to 21 receive a yearly depression screening. This is in response to the fact that suicide has become a leading cause of death among adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in 2013, more than 11,000 people between the age of 15 and 34 committed suicide, making suicide the second leading cause of death for people this age. Another update recommends pediatricians to use the CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Forget, Friends, Trouble) screening questionnaire to screen adolescents for drug and alcohol use. CRAFFT is a yes or no questionnaire given by a healthcare professional that helps indicate a patient’s risk for developing a substance abuse disorder.
Another important update involves screening for cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is a condition that often causes no symptoms, but can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. Previously the AAP has recommended that patients age 11 through 21 be assessed yearly for their risk of cervical dysplasia, however, it is now recommended a cervical dysplasia screening be done only at 21 years old. This is because the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has determined that screening women under the age of 21 for cervical dysplasia does not decrease the incidence of cervical cancer.
Visit the AAP’s page to read about all additional updates to the periodicity schedule.
Preventive health care is equally as important as receiving sick care. Appropriate screenings and risk assessments help detect health issues in their early stages, often leading to earlier treatment options and better outcomes. Receiving appropriate preventative health care in childhood sets children up to be healthy and happy adults. Talk to your doctor about the most appropriate screenings specific to your child and their needs.