HealthDay News — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for major depressive disorder (MDD) in children aged 12 to 18 years, but the evidence is currently inadequate to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for younger children. These findings form the basis of a final recommendation statement published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In order to update the 2009 USPSTF recommendation on screening for MDD in children and adolescents, Albert L. Siu, MD, MSPH, and colleagues from the USPSTF reviewed the evidence on the benefits and harms of screening. They examined the accuracy of screening tests, as well as the benefits and harms of treatment with psychotherapy, medications, and collaborative care models.

The Task Force recommends MDD screening for adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. To ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up, screening should be implemented with adequate systems in place (B recommendation). For children aged 11 years and younger, the USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of MDD screening.

“There is not enough evidence for the Task Force to make a recommendation for or against screening for major depressive disorder in children 11 and younger,” USPSTF member Alex Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement. “However, it is important to take any concern about depression seriously, regardless of age.”

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Siu AL. Screening for Depression in Children and Adolescents: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Annal Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.7326/M15-2957.

Forman-Hoffman V, et al. Screening for Major Depressive Disorder in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Annal Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.7326/M15-2259.