Children with behavioral or emotional disorders often suffer symptoms for years before being diagnosed. A new AAP clinical report focuses on the need to increase behavioral screening to improve mental health treatment of pediatric patients.

The report, Promoting Optimal Development: Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems (

), gives pediatricians a blueprint for routine mental health screening and serves as a call to action, offering information that can be used in advocating for referral resources, said Carol Weitzman, M.D., FAAP, a lead author.

A new CPT billing code for brief behavioral assessment — 96127 — now allows for separate reporting and payment for this service, and was developed by the report’s other lead author, Lynn Mowbray Wegner, M.D., FAAP.

At any given time, up to 20% of U.S. children are grappling with a behavioral or emotional disorder. By the time they turn 16,...

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