Eight Reasons Physicals Are Critical for Kids
Physical examinations, aka well-child exams, are known to most parents as the annual trek to the pediatrician to make sure kids are developing as expected. However, there is much more to it than that. While most parents understand the importance of having their babies seen during their first year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a specific well-child examination schedule. This is to ensure proper development, physically, emotionally and behaviorally.
Physicals are not just the time of year to get up to date on vaccinations. They are an essential part of helping raise healthy children. Here are eight reasons why physical exams are critical for kids.
Eight Reasons Why Physicals are Critical for Kids
- Developmental Check – Kids develop differently. During a well-child exam, the pediatrician will not only measure your child physically but also check for any developmental delays.
- Skin Check – The skin is our largest organ and is susceptible to many different conditions. The most life-threatening is skin cancer, which can happen at any age. During a physical, your child’s pediatrician will examine their skin and notate any new moles or other growths in their record. This necessary documentation allows them to track any changes in the skin, which is often a sign of skin cancer. They are also checking the skin for rashes and other conditions that may worsen if left untreated. If needed, they will refer the child to a dermatologist.
- Immunizations – Whether your child is a baby, toddler, or is school-aged, immunizations are an essential part of maintaining their health and wellness. At various stages of life, vaccines are recommended by the AAP. The purpose of vaccines is to prevent not only illness in your child, but also protect against outbreaks in the community. While some vaccines are recommended, others are required. It is important that parents understand this, so they are adhering to state requirements. Details on vaccines that are required versus recommended in North Carolina can be found here.
- Sensory Screening – Hearing and vision screening is of critical importance for growing children. The purpose of the screening is not only to identify any areas of weakness but to also benchmark against prior screenings. If screening results suggest that a vision or hearing issue may be present, the child is referred to a specialist for further testing. At Rainbow Pediatrics, we offer Spot Vision Screening. This technology can diagnose a variety of conditions including the early detection of amblyopic risk factors, which is critical for early intervention.
- Behavioral and Psychosocial Assessment – Mental health is a significant concern today, and early screening is vital for the overall well being of the child – for life. During a physical, the pediatrician asks specific age-appropriate questions to gauge the child’s strengths and difficulties. Some of the signs they look for include: depression, anxiety, social behaviors, and an inability to focus.
- Anticipatory Guidance – Helping parents raise healthy children is an important part of a pediatrician’s job. To achieve this, they must provide counseling to parents on a variety of topics, some of which include discipline, injury prevention, sleep, and nutrition. Parents can ask questions or concerns and get help from pediatric professionals.
- Age-Appropriate Counseling – As children grow into adolescence, they become more active in the well-child examination. The pediatrician will directly ask the child age-appropriate questions and provide counseling on these topics. For example, they may ask if they wear their seatbelt when in the car. They will then share why wearing a seatbelt is important. This helps reinforce what the parents are telling the kids.
- Sports Requirement – Many sports teams, both recreational and school-sponsored, require that children be in good physical health before participating. During a well-child exam, the pediatrician performs all of the screenings necessary for a sports physical. Therefore, kids can have a well-child exam and sports physical in one visit.
If your child is due for their annual physical, schedule an appointment today. While many adults see a variety of specialists annually for exams, pediatricians are the first line of defense in keeping your kids healthy. Help them do their job by ensuring your kids see the pediatrician for a physical every year.