Cholesterol testing, depression screening added to well-child visits

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Weight and height? Check. 

Need any vaccines? Check. 

Cholesterol test?  Check that, too.

The list of items "to do" at your child's next checkup is getting a little longer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is updating its checklist of things pediatricians should assess at each well-child visit.

The updated guidelines now call for cholesterol screening between ages 9 and 11.  Pediatricians say that one may surprise some parents.

"We're really not looking for the child that has a minor elevation of cholesterol. We're looking for the children that have a family problem with high cholesterol, and about half the people that do have a family problem with high cholesterol don't know it," said Dr. Michael Macknin, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. 

Depression screenings now are recommended between ages 11 and 21 and screening for HIV between age 16 and 18 years.

The new guidelines also include information about a specific screening tool to assess a teen's drug and alcohol use.

A risk assessment for hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues, was added for babies between 15 and 30 months.

There is also a call to screen all newborns for critical congenital heart defects by checking their oxygen level before they leave the hospital.

One test is being pushed back.

The guidelines say teenage girls should no longer be routinely screened for cervical dysplasia with a Pap test until age 21.

Macknin says parents should not be alarmed by the changes because they're simply preventative measures.

"The reason for doing these things is that there are a lot of children with all of these conditions -- the high cholesterol, depression, drugs, alcohol -- that have these various problems, and we don't know about it," said Macknin. "In this way, we are more likely to detect these problems and help future, more severe issues from occurring." 

To download the complete list of guidelines, click here. 

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