In 2021, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) considered 13 topics and made a total of 23 recommendations. They reviewed only 1 new topic. The other 12 were updates of topics previously addressed; no changes were made in 9 of them. In 3, the recommended age of screening or the criteria for screening were expanded. This Practice Alert will review the recommendations made and highlight new recommendations and any changes to previous ones. All complete recommendation statements, rationales, clinical considerations, and evidence reports can be found on the USPSTF website at https://uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/home.1
Dental caries in children
Dental caries affect about 23% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 years and are associated with multiple adverse social outcomes and medical conditions.2 The best way to prevent tooth decay, other than regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, is to drink water with recommended amounts of fluoride (≥ 0.6 parts fluoride per million parts water).2 The USPSTF reaffirmed its recommendation from 2014 that stated when a local water supply lacks sufficient fluoride, primary care clinicians should prescribe oral supplementation for infants and children in the form of fluoride drops starting at age 6 months. The dosage of fluoride depends on patient age and fluoride concentration in the local water (TABLE 13). The USPSTF also recommends applying topical fluoride as 5% sodium fluoride varnish, every 6 months, starting when the primary teeth erupt.2
In addition to fluoride supplements and topical varnish, should clinicians perform screening examinations looking for dental caries? The USPSTF feels there is not enough evidence to assess this practice and gives it an “I” rating (insufficient evidence).
Preventive interventions in pregnancy
In 2021, the USPSTF assessed 3 topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
Screening for gestational diabetes. The USPSTF gave a “B” recommendation for screening at 24 weeks of pregnancy or after, but an “I” statement for screening prior to 24 weeks.4 Screening can involve a 1-step or 2-step protocol.
The 2-step protocol is most commonly used in the United States. It involves first measuring serum glucose after a nonfasting 50-g oral glucose challenge; if the resulting level is high, the second step is a 75- or 100-g oral glucose tolerance test lasting 3 hours. The 1-step protocol involves measuring a fasting glucose level, followed by a 75-g oral glucose challenge with glucose levels measured at 1 and 2 hours.
Healthy weight gain in pregnancy. This was the only new topic the USPSTF assessed last year. The resulting recommendation is to offer pregnant women behavioral counseling to promote healthy weight gain and to prevent excessive weight gain in pregnancy. The recommended weight gain depends on the mother’s prepregnancy weight status: 28 to 40 lbs if the mother is underweight; 25 to 35 lbs if she is not under- or overweight; 15 to 25 lbs if she is overweight; and 11 to 20 lbs if she is obese.5 Healthy weight gain contributes to preventing gestational diabetes, emergency cesarean sections, and infant macrosomia.
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