Well Child Visits
By Dr. Charity Robinson
Well-child visits are essential to help make sure children stay healthy and safe. Many parents think that well-child visits are only for vaccinations, and although vaccinations are very important, there are other important parts of the well-child visit even for those who decline or are not needing vaccinations, such as tracking growth and developmental milestones, discussing concerns about a child’s health, and reviewing prevention.
At the visit a thorough examination and review of history should be performed, including a review of growth charts. For infants and toddlers, developmental surveillance is performed at each visit to address speech, motor skills, social behaviors and learning development, including autism-specific screening at 18 to 24 months. For preschool age children, a one-time vision screening between three and five years of age is recommended. School age children will be screened for safe sports participation, while adolescents should be screened for depression and substance abuse.
Anticipatory guidance and education will also be provided at well-child visits. Safety precautions will be discussed including the use of bike helmets, seatbelts and car seats, water safety with life jackets, skin protection with sunscreen, stranger safety, fire detectors, emergency fire evacuation plan, and gun safety. Healthy lifestyle will also be addressed such as following a healthy balanced diet, limit juice while consuming plenty of milk and water, healthy meats, vegetables, fruits, no added sugars or candy except for special occasions, dental hygiene and fluoride use, daily reading, limit screen time and age appropriate education on substance abuse.
Vaccinations are needed to protect children from diseases like measles, pneumonia, and whooping cough. These diseases can be extremely contagious and can be very serious, especially for babies and young children. In recent years, there have been more outbreaks of these diseases, especially in communities with low vaccination rates such as ours. But, if a child is not going to be vaccinated, or is not due for vaccinations, it is still important to bring them in for a check up to review and discuss other important elements of childhood.