NEW BRUNSWICK - The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its prescreening guidelines for children and teenagers.

Health experts say that early screenings for issues like high cholesterol, heart disease and anemia will likely lower the rate of people who contract these ailments later in life. 

“There is a large obesity epidemic and associated with that is heart disease and strokes. There is a large impact on the community as the children get older,” says Dr. Christopher Haines, chief medical officer at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick. “If we begin to screen for it, then we can begin to treat it effectively and work on obesity and work on drugs that will help that.”

The AAP is also suggesting HIV and AIDS tests for teens as young as 16 years old. According to experts, 25 percent of all new HIV cases come from adolescents.

The academy also wants more aggressive screenings for drug and alcohol in teens and even suggests screening for depression in children as young as 11 years old.

Another guideline is to start cervical screenings in women at age 21.

Parents can read more about the screening changes at the academy’s website.