Getting ready to go back to school is also a reminder that it’s time for that yearly ‘well visit’ with the pediatrician

As you’re making that back-to-school checklist of things to do to get your kids ready, don’t forget to put a yearly physical examination.

While parents of kindergartners and sixth graders are motivated to schedule these appointments to take care of required immunizations and those who have kids in athletics need sports physicals, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an annual well-check physical for all children after age 4.

“Back-to-school checkups are often the only visit most kids and teenagers have with their doctor every year,” Dr. Paul Stricker said on the academy’s website. “The annual physical gives the pediatrician a chance to give the child a thorough physical exam. It’s also a good chance to address important questions, especially with teenagers, including adolescent issues of drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression.”

And while sports physicals offer important screening tools for potential athletic health problems, this type of physical does not address the child’s overall health and is not as detailed or in-depth as a pediatrician’s exam, Stricker said.

Here are other suggestions to help you make the most of your yearly well-visit with your pediatrician:

  • Bring any updated immunization records along if you have them
  • Bring your school’s required physical forms
  • Bring a list of questions about anything that you have concerns about including sleep, allergies, medications, behavior and development.
  • Ask to see your child’s growth chart and discuss your child’s nutrition/caloric intake and exercise needs
  • Be mentally prepared for any vaccinations that may be due.

“Though no one likes to get shots, vaccines are an integral part of keeping kids and our community safe. They work to safeguard children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases and protect our kids by helping prepare their bodies to fight often serious, and potentially deadly diseases,” Heidi Renner, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System, said in a press release.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Click here for a chart of Kentucky’s state requirements for immunizations.

“Yearly physicals are a great time to touch base with your child’s physician to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Renner said. ” Don’t hesitate to ask questions. We can’t help you if we don’t know a problem exists.”

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