Health screening tests are routine tests that check for problems before signs show up. Finding problems early can make treating them easier and more effective.
Health care providers screen for health problems during routine checkups. Many schools screen for health issues too, like when the school nurse does yearly hearing and vision tests. A screening test can be:
a series of questions or a questionnaire (like for tuberculosis)
part of the exam (like a blood pressure check)
a blood test (for example, to check cholesterol levels)
Screening tests help the nurse or doctor know how kids are doing so they can give them the care they need.
What Health Screening Tests Do Kids Get?
Newborns get their first screening tests soon after they’re born. Then children are screened for different things at each routine checkup or sick visit, and even at school. Your state or county may require that children get certain screening tests too.
As kids and teens grow and change, there’s a lot to keep track of. So, health care providers screen for different things at different times in a child’s life. They can do this in different ways.
During the exam, health care providers can screen for issues with a child’s:
Health care providers also screen families to see if they can get enough healthy food, feel safe in their home, and have a reliable way to get to medical visits. If needed, they can point a family to help and support in their community.
When Do We Get the Results of Screening Tests?
Questionnaire results are known right away. Blood test results may take a few days. The health care provider will let you know what to expect.
What Does a Positive Result Mean?
When a screening test shows a positive result, it means it may have found a problem. Sometimes a person can get treatment or services based on the positive screening test. For example, someone who says they have trouble getting enough healthy food for their child can be connected to a local food pantry right away.
Other times a follow-up test is needed to find out more information. For example, if a lead screening test shows a high lead level, the doctor will order a follow-up test to confirm the result.
How Can Parents Help?
Take your kids to all regular checkups so they get the screening tests they need on time. When your health care provider asks about lead exposure, safety, food, or transportation, they’re not being nosy and they won’t judge you. These questions are part of routine screening to keep your child and family as healthy as possible.