August 17, 2009
Summer is here, and the last thing most parents think about is scheduling a school physical for the coming year. It’s a great time for back-to-school and sports physicals, however, as most kids are just getting started on summer break activities, and it is one less activity to worry about in September, when kids return to school.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an annual check-up for children aged two to 18. For very young children, physicians will plot weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI) to be sure they are growing appropriately. Kids who are overweight by age five are likely to be overweight as teenagers and adults, too. Children between two and six will also be screened for language development and fine motor skills that can be treated before the child begins school. Well child visits are a time for physicians to educate parents about the importance of car seats and accident prevention, including drowning, which is a leading cause of death for this age group.
Puberty comes at different times for different kids, but during physicals for teenagers, doctors will address issues such as moodiness, increased appetite and sleep requirements, and for girls, their menstrual cycles. In addition to scoliosis, anemia, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, the doctor may also open a discussion regarding peer pressure, the use of tobacco and alcohol, driving and difficulties at school. Teenagers may prefer to have these conversations without a parent in the room.
You may think your child is up to date on vaccines, but recommendations change frequently. In the last two years, new vaccines for meningococcal disease and human papilloma virus have been recommended for eleven – to twelve-year-olds. Just last year, flu shots were recommended for all children between six months and eighteen years.
Last year, the Wisconsin Student Immunization law was changed. Two new requirements for the 2009-2010 school year include:
Students who have received the Tdap vaccine within the last five years are compliant and do not need to be revaccinated, and students who’ve had the chickenpox, even after the first varicella dose, do not require further doses. For a listing of recommended vaccinations by age, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.ckc.gov/vaccines. Parents with questions are encouraged to call their school nurse or family practitioner.
Taking your child to the doctor for an annual exam has many more benefits than meeting your school district’s sports physical requirement. Make an appointment today to avoid the Fall back-to-school rush. To find a pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner in your area, search Fort HealthCare’s "Find a Physician" link at www.forthealthcare.com.