The pediatric well-child care is designed to identify health problems and to promote the wellbeing of children. Parents already know who they should see when their child is sick, but these same pediatric visits are just as important when your child is seemingly healthy. Well-child visits usually start a few days after children are born and continue until your child turns 18.
The many benefits:
• Prevention. Your child gets scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. You also can ask your pediatrician about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.
• Tracking growth and development. See how much your child has grown in the time since your last visit and speak with your doctor about your child’s development. You can discuss your child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.
• Raising concerns. Make a list of topics you want to discuss during the visit such as development, behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with other family members. Bring your top three to five questions or concerns with you to talk with your pediatrician at the start of the visit.
• Team approach. Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships between pediatrician, parent and child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits as a way for pediatricians and parents to best serve the health needs of children. This team approach fosters optimal physical, mental and social health of a child.
“Back to school” checkups, as they are commonly called, are often the only visit most children and teens have with their pediatrician throughout the year. The annual physical gives the pediatrician a chance to give the child a thorough physical exam and address any emotional, developmental or social concerns. It is also a good time to address important questions privately between doctor and older teens, who might not feel comfortable discussing adolescent issues with their parents, such as drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity and depression.
During a well-child visit, your doctor will:
• perform a physical exam
• give the child any necessary shots (immunizations or vaccinations)
• track how your child is growing and developing
• talk about illness prevention, diet and physical fitness, and health and safety issues
• discuss how to handle emergencies and sudden illness
A complete history should address any concerns from the patient and family, and screen for lifestyle habits, including diet, physical activity, daily screen time (e.g., television, computer, video games), hours of sleep per night, dental care and safety habits.
The well-child visit is your best opportunity to bring up any worries about your child’s growth and development, especially if your child is not reaching important milestones. Remember, your doctor may be an expert on children’s health but you are the expert on your child.
If the child is struggling in school, referral for formal testing for learning disabilities should be considered. Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder often present in school-aged children as the complexity of schoolwork increases. Problems with vision or hearing may impact success in the classroom. School performance may also be affected if the child is experiencing stress at home or in school.
Rates of childhood overweight and obesity have been steadily increasing over the past three decades. It is recommended to begin measuring body mass index (BMI) in children starting at six years of age.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, medical or otherwise. Your child’s doctor can give you valuable advice on how to promote your child’s learning and development, how to potty train, tips on playground safety and more.
FirstMed welcomes everyone back from their summer holidays. Now is a great time to schedule your child’s school physical examination or well-child check.
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