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Screening tests for children

Screening tests function to detect potential health hazards in seemingly healthy children. It helps in early diagnosis and can encourage a child to live a healthy life with a proper diet and adequate exercise. If you find out that your child is overweight/obese, you can keep him from developing more serious health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by taking preventative measures accordingly. Screening is effective to assess vision impairments and hearing loss. It is not as successful in detecting congenital heart diseases and growth developments. In this article, we will cover the various screening processes available, and the common health risks children should be screened for.

Types of Screening Exams

  • Screening with the help of physical examination – Physical examinations are performed to screen for congenital dislocation of the hip, problems with genitalia such as undescended testes, spinal defects, adolescent scoliosis, and congenital heart disease.
  • Screening via objective measurements – Monitoring height-weight-head circumference, blood pressure and screening for vision and hearing loss fall under screenings that involve objective measurements.
  • Biochemical screening – Screening for cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, PKU, muscular dystrophy, lead intoxication, maternal HIV and other inherited metabolic disorders.
  • Screening that involves knowledge of child development – Detecting speech, language and communication disorders, behavioral disorders, emotional disorders, motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and existing mental health risks that run in the family.

Recommended Screenings

  • Lead poisoning – Your child should be tested for lead poisoning at 1-2 years of age. Lead can damage your child’s body parts and slow down their mental and physical growth. Children who happen to be exposed to old houses with peeling/chipping paint are at risk of developing lead poisoning.
  • Blood Tests for Cholesterol and Anemia – The recommended age for testing anemia in children is sometime around the first birthday. Children with parents who have a high cholesterol level or a history of heart disease in the family need to be screened for cholesterol when they are 2+ years old. The same goes for children who are obese or who have high blood pressure.

  • Blood Pressure – Start taking your child to the doctor’s to have his/her blood pressure checked regularly from when he/she attains 3 years of age. It isn’t normal for a child to have high blood pressure and is a cause for concern.
  • Vision – Test your child’s vision before sending them to school, at around 3-4 years of age.
  • Hearing – Similarly, have your child’s hearing ability checked at around the same time.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes is uncommon in children below 10 years of age, but it is wise to have your child checked for diabetes early on in life anyhow. You will be able to prevent complications related to diabetes in your child, by doing this. Consider screening for diabetes especially if your child is overweight.

Conclusion

Prevention is better than cure. So why wait to have your child diagnosed with a health problem before taking him/her to a doctor? Have these screening tests performed and keep your child in the peak of health.