Studies show the proportion of children receiving well visits declines with age.
This may come as no surprise. Families with babies and young children are used to regular checkups for immunizations, development markers and concerns regarding things like teething, toilet training and temper tantrums.
But as kids get older, they may be up to date on vaccines and the urgency for checkups wanes. Factor in a COVID-19 pandemic and wellness visits may be overlooked if a child appears to be healthy.
“Due to these uncertain times, the annual well visit may fall off a family’s radar,” said Dr. David Karas, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Wadsworth. “This could mean real health issues aren’t being detected early so opportunities for treatment are being missed, leading to long-term health issues. Many families don’t realize the importance of regular preventive care for overall health and well-being.”
Yearly wellness checkups are an important way for parents and providers to keep kids healthy — physically, mentally and socially — from birth through age 21.
During a well visit, your child’s pediatrician will offer her preventive care by assessing and monitoring her physical, behavioral, developmental and emotional well-being as she grows. It’s a critical opportunity to detect possible developmental delays, and early detection and treatment can lessen the future impact on your child and family.
In addition, the pediatrician will keep her up to date on immunizations to prevent disease, assess a child’s body mass index (BMI) to ensure she’s at a healthy weight and perform a complete physical exam from head to toe.
Well visits also are a key time for parents to ask questions and address concerns, such as sleep or nutritional issues, and now stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teens and tweens need annual wellness visits, too
As kids reach adolescence, much of the time will be spent talking about what’s going on in her life. A provider may ask about social issues, academic performance, the home environment, sleep issues and safety concerns, such as texting and driving. In addition, pediatricians screen all adolescents for depression and suicidal thoughts.
Wellness visits can provide a safe space for teens to talk about risky behaviors, such as sex, drinking and drugs.
“Perhaps the most important part of the wellness visit for adolescents is the behavioral and emotional assessment,” said Dr. Karas. “While functioning independently for the first time, they are experiencing lots of stressors, from school troubles to mental illness to exploring sexuality.”
So, be sure to schedule a wellness checkup for your child once a year, every year, by calling our Appointment Center at 330-543-2778.