Screening Tests for Teens (Ages 13-18)

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Not everyone in this age group may need screening for every condition listed here. Click on the links above to read more about each condition and to determine if screening may be appropriate for you or your family member. You should discuss screening options with your health care practitioner.

Overview

Adolescents are often thought of as the healthiest age group. However, habits formed during the teen years will likely affect your teen's health well into adulthood. For example, helping an overweight or obese teen reduce his or her weight can prevent diabetes and heart disease in later years.

For teens, annual "well care" visits don't involve many laboratory screening tests. Rather, the emphasis is on preparing for teen health issues, such as accident and injury prevention, sexual health, and avoiding substance abuse. Preventive medicine for teens should emphasize healthy lifestyle choices that help protect against diseases that occur in adulthood. 

The menu above links you to articles on the few conditions and diseases for which teens 13 to 18 years old may be screened. The articles summarize the recommendations from various authorities on screening tests for teens, and there is consensus in many areas, but not all. Therefore, when discussing screening with your teen's health care provider and making decisions about testing, it is important to consider your teen's individual health situation and risk factors.

For more information on what happens at your teen's medical exams, see Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Pocket Guide.

For more information on preventive medicine and steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy, read Wellness and Prevention in an Era of Patient Responsibility.


General Sources

American Academy of Family Physicians. Preventive services for healthy living. Reviewed/updated 2/10. Available online through http://familydoctor.org. Accessed April 2012.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Recommendations for preventive pediatric health care (policy statement). Dec 2007. Pediatrics 120(6);1376. Available online through http://pediatrics.aappublications.org. Accessed Jan 2008.

Hagan JF, Shaw JS and Duncan PM, eds. Bright Futures Guidelines: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents (3rd ed.). 2008. Elk Grove Village, Ill: American Academy of Pediatrics, Pp. 211-218.

Biagioli FE and DeVoe JE. What are appropriate screening tests for adolescents? Oct 2006. J Family Practice 55(10):907-913. Available online through http://www.jfponline.com. Accessed Jan 2008.