New Health Screening Guidelines, TelemedicineApp, Asthma Rates Drop


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The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines with some changes and additions to recommended health screenings for children and adolescents. Here are some of the highlighted recommendations:

• Depression screening should occur annually for ages 11-21.

• High cholesterol screening should begin at ages 9-11.

• HIV screening should begin at ages 16-18.

Other important recommendations and changes include adding a fluoride varnish application to children’s teeth at ages 6 months to 5 years; and changing routine vision screenings at age 18 to a risk-based assessment, since few new vision problems develop in low-risk young adults.

For more information on the screening recommendations, go to

Kids’ Asthma Rates Decline

After a 10-year-long increase, asthma rates in children ages 17 and younger are on the decline, according to a long-term study of children from 2001 to 2013 that was published in the Dec. 28, 2015 edition of Pediatrics.

The rate of asthma in children climbed from 2001 to 2009, when it peaked at 9.7 percent. It then began to decline and by the end of the study, the asthma rate had fallen to 8.3 percent.

Though researchers are not sure of the reasons for the decline, what appears to be a recent possible plateau in childhood obesity rates and declines in air pollution may be among contributing factors.

Asthma rates in poor children, however, continue to increase. Reasons for this may include exposure to environmental factors that increase their risk for asthma, including tobacco smoke, mold, mildew, pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches and smog.

New App Helps Connect Patients With Providers

A new telemedicine app called TouchCare is making it possible for patients who require continuity of care, but cannot always travel, to see their doctors. Telemedicine services like TouchCare can offer convenience, after-hours care, follow-up appointments and ongoing counseling. 

All virtual video appointments through TouchCare are conducted through a secure platform that complies with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy requirements. TouchCare is free, and appointments can be as quick and convenient as a FaceTime call.

Psychiatrists and other health care providers in North Carolina and other states are using apps such as this to:

• Provide better access by connecting with existing and new patients in a new way.

• Strengthen relationships by improving patient satisfaction and communication.

• Increase compliance by encouraging follow-up care.

• Improve efficiency by utilizing clinic/after-hours time effectively.

Learn more at


13 percent: The percentage of daily calories Americans get from sugar each day.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill.

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