Don’t Forget Checkups in Your Back-to-School Planning

apc_9-00During an annual checkup, your doctor will make sure your child is meeting all relevant growth development and preventive care measures for his or her age–including making sure that all appropriate immunizations are up to date.

Some additions to your child’s back-to-school checklist are obvious ones. Trademarks of the season include new clothes shopping, stocking up on brown bag lunch items and trying to establish a regular bedtime routine after months of longer,Checkups for your children should be part of your back-to-school planning summer hours. But whether your child is off to school for the first time or heading back for the challenges of another grade, making sure he or she has a healthy kick-off to the new school year is one entry that’s a must for any list. That’s what makes this time of year a perfect opportunity to schedule your child’s annual medical exam.

During an annual checkup, your family doctor will ensure your child is meeting all relevant growth, development and preventive care measures for his or her age. For new students, one of the most important of these is making sure that your son or daughter has completed all appropriate immunizations that protect against common childhood illnesses. All states now require proof of these immunizations before allowing a child to start school. It is also important to keep these records on hand when your child approaches high school graduation, because many colleges and universities need to see the dates of these immunizations before they will accept your child.

The checkup additionally provides an opportunity for the doctor to answer questions your child has about physical changes he or she may be experiencing with increased maturity. The doctor can offer advice regarding the dangers of certain behaviors, like smoking or drug and alcohol abuse, and education about the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise.

Finally, back-to-school checkups start your child on a path towards valuing regular preventive medical care. Often, we forget that the doctor’s office isn’t just a place to go when you’re sick. The best medical care promotes healthy decisions that prevent illness and provides screenings that detect illnesses before they become larger problems. The doctor should provide education for your child on the importance of monitoring one’s weight and blood pressure, as well as conducting monthly self-breast examinations or self-testicular exams.

And yearly visits aren’t just recommended for younger students. Most schools now require an annual physical examination for students wishing to participate in sports programs. Many colleges and universities also require some kind of checkup prior to allowing incoming students to start classes. Check with your school for more specific information.

So, what should your child expect from the annual checkup? While everyone has unique needs based on individual and family medical history, the typical “well- child” examination includes some or all of the following:

  • Height, weight and blood pressure measurements
  • Vision and hearing screenings
  • Ear, nose, throat and chest inspections
  • Heart, lung and reflex checks
  • Other examinations as needed, including blood or urine analysis or tuberculosis tests

An annual checkup provides your child with a healthy start to the new school year. It’s one extra step parents can take to help ensure their child “makes the grade” in more ways than one.