Well Child Care
A well visit, also known as a routine physical or medical checkup, is recommended for children of all ages. Regular well visit examinations are important for keeping children healthy and up-to-date on their immunizations. A well visit is also an opportunity to communicate with the doctor about growth and developmental issues and any concerns about a child's overall health. While they may be scheduled more frequently when they are younger, when a child reaches the age of 3, a well care visit should be scheduled annually with a pediatrician. Preventative care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for a child.
During the Visit
During a well-care visit, a complete physical examination is performed to monitor growth and development as well as detect any changes or abnormalities. The child's height and weight are measured and recorded, and compared against a normal pattern of growth. Any necessary immunizations may be administered. Additional tests often include:
- Hearing test
- Vision test
- Blood tests for anemia
- Urine test
- Blood pressure measurements
- Pulse rate
- Respiration rate
Older children may also be checked for scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and for signs of puberty. The pediatrician may also ask about the child's sleep patterns, exercise routine, and eating habits and stress the importance of personal care and hygiene to maintain good health. If a doctor suspects that a child is growing or developing too slowly, they may order additional tests to check for medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency, or other genetic conditions that can affect growth.
Well visits are also opportunities to discuss topics such as behavioral issues, learning problems, emotional problems or difficulties at school. Doctors may be able to provide counseling or referrals to specialists who can address many of these more serious issues. Well visits are an important part of the health and well-being of children and their families.
A developmental screening is a routine monitoring process used to identify any potential developmental delays in children. Early detection is a valuable tool in terms of treating health and development issues. Developmental screenings can help to identify delays in mental or physical abilities that may indicate a diagnosis of autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental or physical disabilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development at the ages of 9, 18, 24 and 30 months, or whenever a parent has a concern.
The Developmental Screening Process
Developmental monitoring and screening is most often performed by the child's pediatrician, during routine well visits or check-ups. Screenings are performed through simple questions and observations to ensure that the child is progressing at a normal rate. Standard developmental screenings include:
- Reviewing any parental concerns
- Recording a developmental history
- Observing the child's behavior and physical abilities
- Identifying risks and protective factors
Once the child is screened, the pediatrician documents the findings. If a potential developmental problem is suspected, further evaluation is often necessary. Depending on the specific concerns, the child may be referred to a pediatric neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist for additional and more in-depth screenings and evaluation.
Early diagnosis of a developmental disorder and any underlying causes is extremely important for planning any necessary medical treatment or early intervention services. Developmental screening in children is imperative in identifying and treating early developmental conditions.
While infants are protected from certain diseases at birth because of antibodies passed on to them from the mother, this maternal protection is only temporary. Continuing immunity against many diseases can be achieved through vaccinations, most often administered as injections, but sometimes administered orally or nasally. Vaccinations use small amounts of killed or weakened microorganisms that cause the targeted diseases. Introducing these altered pathogens into the body assists the immune system in developing antibodies as if it were fighting off the actual disease. These antibodies provide the patient with long-term protection.
Some of the vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention include those for the prevention of:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Diptheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP)
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
- Measle, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningitis for college students or others in dormitories
Certain immunizations are required or recommended for public school or college attendance, in order to enter the military or before traveling to other countries. Vaccinations are also recommended for certain populations, such as infants, adolescents, older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic medical conditions.
Child and Adolescent Counseling
Mental health is an important part of a child's overall health and has a profound impact on a child's physical health and his or her ability to succeed in school and in society. The mental health of a child is as important as the child's physical health in affecting how the child thinks, feels, and acts, both on the inside and outside. Mental health issues can have a long term impact on a child's ability to fulfill his or her potential as an adolescent and as an adult.
Our professional staff is trained to consider the complete spectrum of a child's or adolescent's mental development in the areas of identity, emotions, social relations, cognition, and biology and genetics. Counseling and therapy can help children and adolescents meet the challenges of growing up, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and a variety of emotional and behavioral issues.
Having the ears pierced is a very common procedure, but poor after-care can lead to infections that may have permanent effects on the health and appearance of the ears. Ear piercings should only be performed by a properly trained and licensed person using a new, sterile needle. The most important part of caring for newly pierced ears is keeping the piercing clean. The ear lobe can become infected if the area is exposed to bacteria. The ideal method of cleaning is to soak a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide and apply it to both sides of the ears, once in the morning and once in the evening each day.