Often we parents start out being very good about taking our babies to the doctor for their checkups. But once they start walking, talking and going to school, life can get really busy. Sure, we take our kids to the doctor when they’re sick. But are those yearly appointments really necessary?
It may feel like a hassle to take off of work and school to make it to these appointments. I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely worth it. These checkups are very important for children’s health. This is especially true for kids who are between the ages of 0 and 5 years old.
Well visits with a pediatrician or family doctor help make sure that your child has everything he or she needs to be healthy. It’s also a great time for parents to ask the doctor questions and learn about proper nutrition, safety, shots and other important health subjects.
Going to the doctor when a child is well helps to prevent sickness, which translates into fewer missed school days for kids and work days for parents, and healthier children overall.
Well-Child Checkups Just as Important as Sick Visits. During the first five years of life, children grow and develop at a lightning pace! A doctor can help look at your child’s growth to make sure they’re on track for their age. If there is an issue, the doctor can help address it early on so that it does not become a bigger problem down the road.
Let’s talk about asthma for a minute. Asthma is a health problem that many kids in Baltimore struggle with. It is a health condition that can send a child to the ER. It involves swelling of airways in the lungs, sometimes making it hard to breathe. Regular checkups with a doctor can help prevent asthma flare-ups and ER visits. A doctor can help a child with asthma by prescribing medication to manage the condition. A doctor can also help find out what triggers your child’s asthma. These can be things like smoke, dust mites, animals, pollution and mold. Knowing what makes a child’s asthma worsen is helpful. Knowing means you can avoid these triggers as much as possible.
What Happens at a Well-Child Checkup?
The doctor will:
•Examine your child to make sure he’s growing and developing properly. In general, the doctor will check your child’s head, ears, eyes, mouth, skin, heart and lungs, belly, hips and legs, and private parts.
•Give your child any necessary vaccines or immunizations (shots).
•Track how your child is growing and ask you about development and behavior.
•Talk about how to prevent sickness, including eating healthy and exercise.
•Manage your child’s existing medical conditions.
•Talk about how to stay safe including the proper car seat for your child’s size, seat belts, fire prevention and safety, safe firearm storage and setting screen time limits.
•Talk about how to handle health emergencies and sudden illness.
Are Vaccines Safe?
Yes! Vaccines are not only safe, but they are a very important part of keeping kids healthy. You may have heard that shots can lead to autism and other health issues. That is a myth. Here’s the truth: Scientists have studied this extensively, and found that there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. The fact is, the flu shot prevents millions of doctor visits each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Making time for your child’s yearly checkups will save you time off from work in the long run, and help keep your child feeling good and ready to learn at school.
Mutiat Onigbanjo, MD is a pediatrician at the University of Maryland Pediatrics at Midtown, 827 Linden Ave. Suite A, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. To reach her office, call 410-225-8780.