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Annual Physicals Are Necessary for Children and Teens

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This question comes up all the time: “My child is up to date on shots. What is the need for a check-up?” Shots are not the only reasons for annual check-ups. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends yearly physicals from ages two to six years, at eight and ten years, and then annually thereafter. Here are important reasons why.

 

Young Children. While children between ages two and six are usually not big eaters, it is still important to look at their growth and diet. Kids who are overweight by age five are much more likely to be overweight as teenagers and adults. This predisposes them to all the related adult health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. By plotting weight, height, and Body Mass Index (BMI), we can be sure they are growing appropriately.

Young children develop rapidly. Children need to be screened for language development and fine and gross motor problems that, if found, can be addressed before the child starts school.

During well visits we can also reinforce car or booster seat use and gun and water safety. Accidents, including drowning, are the leading cause of death for kids two to six.

Teens. Adolescence has its own set of problems for parents and teens. Puberty comes at different times for different kids, which can cause concerns of growing too soon or not soon enough. The doctor can talk about what to expect during puberty: increased appetite, moodiness, increased sleep requirement, and, for girls, periods. Discussions can be started about peer pressure, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, driving, and difficulties at school. Your doctor may want to speak with your teenager in private.

Also, the doctor will screen your child for curvature of the spine (scoliosis), anemia, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and other familial diseases.

New Vaccines. And while you may think that your child is up to date on vaccines, recommendations are changing all the time. In the last two years, new vaccines for meningococcal disease (Menactra) and human papilloma virus (Gardisil) have been recommended for eleven- to twelve-year-olds. A second chicken pox vaccine is now required for kindergarten. Just last year, flu shots were recommended for all children between six months and eighteen years.

Taking your child to his or her physician works for health in so many ways. Make an appointment today.