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Adolescents are often thought of as the healthiest age group. 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 as well as on emphasizing healthy lifestyle choices that can help protect against diseases that occur in adulthood. If the health care provider identifies risk factors, however, appropriate screening tests will be recommended. Additional tests and exams may be appropriate due to menstruation or sexual activity (to screen for anemia and infections, for example).

The menu above links you to articles on the few conditions and diseases for which teens 13 to 18 years old may be screened. All teens should be routinely screened for obesity, but the rest of the tests are selective. That is, your health care provider will suggest a screening test if the teen has an above-average risk for a particular health problem.

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 Staying Healthy in an Era of Patient Responsibility.


General Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics. Recommendations for preventive pediatric health care (policy statement). Dec 2007. Pediatrics 120(6);1376. Available on the Internet at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org. Accessed 28 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 on the Internet at http://www.jfponline.com. Accessed 18 Jan 2008.

American Academy of Family Physicians. Preventive services for healthy living. Review/update Aug 2007. Available on the Internet at http://familydoctor.org. Accessed 17 Jan 2008.