Should I take my child for an annual check up?
We are all aware that as adults, with the passing of years, an annual checkup with our GP or physician is vital... Aside from the doctor examining us, we evaluate our cholesterol, blood pressure, prostate, mammogram etc depending on age, gender and family history.
A question I get asked often is does my child need an annual check up? The answer is yes. This sounds odd when your child is probably running around like an energizer bunny, happy and healthy. But the reasons for a check up are important, and different from those in adults. What do we monitor and look out for in your child's annual check?
1. Growth. Your doctor should note at least your child's height and weight. This gives us clues as to your child's general health and nutrition. But also, changes in growth patterns over the long term can be indicators of problems including sudden and severe illness, chronic conditions like asthma or childhood diabetes ,chronic infections like TB, or early signs of genetic conditions.
2. Development. Assessing childhood development is essential in understanding a child's physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Your doctor needs to asses gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognition, language, and social and emotional development as your child grows. When development is on track for your child's age, as well as medical and home history (every child is different... Premature babies, unwell children, environmental factors all affect development), you and your doctor will have reassurance of a child with good overall wellbeing. Where problems are detected and persist, further investigation and early referral can take place.
2. Double checking. Are vaccinations up to date? (there will be a follow up blog on the vital importance of vaccines!), has your child recently been dewormed (every six months!), a full physical exam by the doctor, are there perhaps changes the parents haven't noticed?
3. Questions and queries. As parents we all have questions about our child's health and development that pop in and out of our heads while we do the school run. Write them down and save them for your child's check up. When you book the check up with either your GP or pediatrician, ask for a longer consultation. Take the time to go through everything you need to. You know your child better than anyone, and your input should be one of the most important factors in the doctor's assessment of your child.
Book an annual check up for your little ones here