The Optimal Ages to Start Different Preventative Care Procedures

Understanding when to seek preventive care and what services are best for different age groups can reduce your risk of disease and protect your health.


As we age, our medical needs change. Understanding when to seek preventive care and what services are important at what age can reduce your risk of disease and protect your health.

Pediatric Preventive Care

Beginning at birth, children should receive routine care from a pediatrician or another healthcare provider who specializes in pediatric patients. Until their teen years, all children should be measured at each visit, including their height and weight, and those under 24 months should also have their head circumference measured. In early to mid-childhood, children can also have their body mass index (BMI) measured alongside appropriate nutrition and physical exercise recommendations.

Young children can be screened for developmental, social, and behavioral concerns, including autism spectrum disorder. As children get older, they should undergo regular mental health screenings and tobacco, alcohol, and drug use assessments. Children also need immunizations to protect them from certain diseases. Most of these immunizations are given in infancy to early childhood, although some are annual, such as the flu vaccine.

It’s recommended for infants through 18 months of age to see a healthcare provider at least once every three months. At 24 months, the frequency can decrease to once every 12 months.

Adult Preventive Care

Adults also require preventive care and screenings as their risk of contracting certain diseases increases.

Physical Exam: Adulthood

Both men and women should undergo regular physical exams by trained healthcare providers. Females typically receive breast and pelvic exams to detect early signs of breast cancer and cancers of the reproductive organs. All patients should receive regular blood pressure and mental health screenings when consulting with their providers.

Some patients may undergo additional screening for sexually transmitted infections (STI), depending on their lifestyles and risk factors. After the age of 35 (in men) or 45 (in women), additional lipid panels may be performed to assess the risk of coronary heart disease.

By undergoing routine preventive screenings, you can get a clear picture of your overall health and well-being. For many diseases and ailments mentioned, early detection is a vital part of good outcomes, so follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for all necessary screenings.

Mammogram: Age 50

Mammography is specialized medical imaging that provides a view of the tissues of the breasts. A doctor can view the images to look for signs of breast cancer. For most women, mammograms are recommended starting at age 50, although individuals with an increased risk of breast cancer may start earlier.

Colonoscopy: Age 50

Both men and women typically start undergoing regular colonoscopies at the age of 50, which is a screening test for colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy is generally performed once every ten years and usually requires sedation. Preparing for a colonoscopy also involves taking a substance by mouth that clears the colon’s contents over a short period prior to the procedure.

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or gastrointestinal symptoms that require further investigation, you may undergo a colonoscopy earlier than age 50.

Prostate Cancer Screening: Age 55

Men are often screened for prostate cancer starting at age 55, which may involve a physical exam or measuring the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. This substance is produced by the prostate, so its levels in the blood can determine how well the prostate is functioning. Since prostate cancer is more common in men in their 60s and 70s, the screening process typically takes place multiple times in this age group.

Bone Mineral Density Screening: Age 65

Women over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of osteoporosis due to hormonal changes during menopause that impact bone density. Estrogen is a vital hormone in healthy, strong bones, but its level decreases in women who have gone through menopause.

A bone mineral density screening is a test typically performed on females at and after age 65 which provides an indication of bone strength and fracture risk. If a screening indicates that your bones are fragile or brittle, your healthcare provider may prescribe a bisphosphonate, or a medication used to limit the loss of bone density.

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