One moment your child is born and the next moment they are sitting up, saying their first word and taking their first steps. It’s amazing just how many milestones your child will reach in just the first few years of their life, and in order to ensure that your child reaches all of these milestones it’s important to visit their pediatrician regularly for routine wellness visits.
Seeing the doctor isn’t just for moments when your child has a fever or the sniffles, it’s also important that they visit the doctor often for well-child checkups. The benefits of these regular visits include,
- Vaccinating your child and preventing a variety of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases
- Screening them for certain health problems
- Checking their vision and hearing
- Reducing your child’s risk of getting sick
- Monitoring and treating preexisting conditions
- Detecting health problems early on and treat them quickly
- Improving your child’s health and their quality of life
There are many things that go into a well-child visit. When your child visits the pediatrician here are some things to expect,
- Monitoring of vital signs, which includes taking their temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
- Recording their height and weight
- Asking questions about your child’s current health status, physical activity level, diet, sleeping patterns, etc.
- A comprehensive physical examination
- Administering immunizations
Additional screenings, vaccines and other elements may also be included in certain well-child checkups depending on their age. For example, most children will start getting a hearing and vision screening at around three years old.
These checkups won’t just detect physical health problems but also developmental disabilities such as ADHD and learning disorders. Bringing your child in for regular wellness checkups allows your child’s pediatrician to continue to monitor their speech to pinpoint early signs that there could be a developmental delay or disability present. All children should be screened for developmental delays by the time they are 9 months old, and again at 24 and 30 months.
Bringing your child in regularly will also get them comfortable with the doctor’s office. Your child’s first visit should happen just a few days after they are born. From there, your newborn will continue to visit the pediatrician at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months.
Once they reach their first birthday, they will come into our office at 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months and 3 years. From 4 to 21 years old, children and teens should visit their pediatrician once a year for a checkup.
When was the last time your child saw the doctor? Keeping them healthy means keeping up with these routine checkups. Schedule your child’s next wellness visit today.
Truth is, anyone with an appendix can get appendicitis—even our children. Appendicitis is a painful inflammation of the hollow, finger-shaped organ attached to the end of the large intestine. If left untreated, an inflamed appendix can rupture, leading to a lengthy hospital stay for complications including abdominal infection and bowel obstruction.
When your child complains of stomach pain, consult your pediatrician for proper diagnosis and to ensure the health of your child. Since appendicitis is potentially life-threatening, it is important to understand the symptoms so that you can spot appendicitis in your child. In order of appearance, the symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Unfortunately, symptoms of appendicitis might also be hidden by a viral or bacterial infection that preceded it. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever may appear before the typical pain of appendicitis, which makes the diagnosis much more difficult.
Your child’s discomfort might also disappear, which will persuade you that they are better. However, this disappearance of pain could also mean that the appendix has just broken open or ruptured. The pain might leave for several hours, but this is the moment when appendicitis becomes dangerous, making it more important than ever to visit your pediatrician for immediate care for your child.
When your pediatrician diagnoses your child with appendicitis, surgery is usually needed as soon as possible. Surgically removing the appendix is usually the treatment of choice, as it is important to eliminate the inflamed appendix before it bursts.
While most children with abdominal pain do not have appendicitis, you can never be too safe when it comes to the health of your child. Visit your pediatrician for further diagnosis of this serious problem and to take the next steps toward a healthy child.
A hit to the head during a soccer game or a hard fall from skateboarding may result in a serious head injury and even a concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes a concussion as any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis. These injuries are typically caused by a blow to the head, most often occurring while playing contact sports such as football, hockey, soccer, wrestling or skateboarding.
For some children, concussions only last for a short while. Other times, a person can have symptoms of a concussion that last for several days or weeks following the injury. Not all symptoms of concussions will be obvious, and in some cases take several hours to set in. Look for these signs of a concussion if your child suffers a head injury:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory loss or confusion
- Poor concentration
- Vision problems
- Irritability or changes in mood
- Sensitivity to light or noise
Seek Medical Attention
If your child injures his head or you believe he may have a concussion, it is important that the child discontinues play immediately and visits a healthcare provider for an evaluation. All concussions are serious and should be monitored right away. A pediatrician can properly diagnose the concussion and its severity, and then make appropriate treatment recommendations.
Rest from all activities is the best treatment for concussions. Your pediatrician can make appropriate recommendations for when the child should return to future play. Recovery time depends on the child and the severity of the concussion.
Preventing Head Injuries
Not all head injuries can be avoided, but you can do a few important things to prevent them.
- Buckle Up. Make sure your child is properly buckled up in a seat belt, car seat or booster seat.
- Safety Gear. If your child plays sports, make sure he wears appropriate headgear and other safety equipment.
- Awareness. Children should be taught how to play safe and understand the importance of reporting any type of head injury to their parent or coach.
All head injuries should be taken seriously. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent serious complications. It’s never a bad idea to contact your pediatrician when you have questions or concerns about your child’s head injury.
Kids may complain about being restrained in the car, but car seats and booster seats save lives. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that using a car or booster seat in a passenger car reduces the risk of fatal injury 71 percent in children younger than 1 and 54 percent in toddlers ages 1 to 4. The statistics are just as impressive for older kids.
What type of seat should I use for my child?
Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the highest weight or height recommended by the manufacturer. In the past, children were routinely removed from rear-facing seats when they were 2, even if they didn't meet height or weight limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed their guidelines and now recommend that kids remain in the seats as long as possible.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers who have reached the maximum height or weight limits for rear-facing seats should use forward-facing car seats. Again, the seats should be used until the child reaches the maximum height and weight recommendations.
Once kids are too tall or heavy for car seats, they will transition to booster seats. Booster seats should be used until children are 4'9" tall and 8 to 12 years old. Older children can begin using seat belts at that point but should sit in the back seat when possible, particularly if they're younger than 13.
How can I tell if the car seat is installed correctly?
Both car and booster seats should be securely fashioned with a latch system or seat belt. If the seat moves back and forth freely, it's not installed correctly. Properly installed seats should move no more than an inch in any direction.
My child's legs seem too long for the car seat. What should I do?
You may wonder if your child should move up to the next seat or a booster seat if your child's feet touch the back of car seat. As long as your child is shorter than the maximum height for the seat, he or she should remain in the current seat.
Should my child use a secondhand car seat?
Passing a seat down to your next child can be a good idea if your children are only a few years apart in age. Before you reuse a seat for a younger child, make sure that it hasn't expired or been recalled since you bought it. Throw away car and booster seats after accidents, even minor ones. The seat may look perfectly fine but may be damaged internally.
Buying secondhand car seats online or at yard sales should be avoided. You won't necessarily know if the seat has been in an accident or if it has defective latches or restraints.
Using car seats consistently, whether you're going to the grocery store or taking a cross-country trip, can help your child avoid serious injuries due to traffic accidents. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you have questions about the seats.
You want to do everything you can to protect your child’s health, and well-child care exams are a vital tool to keep your child healthy. Regular well-child visits can help your pediatrician diagnose small medical issues before they can become serious medical problems or illnesses. Dr. Maria Francis at Old Fort Bay Pediatrics in Nassau, Bahamas offers a wide range of children’s healthcare services including well-child care exams to help your child stay healthy—read on to learn more.
How regular appointments help your child
Well-child care exams are an important way to ensure that your child is current on immunizations. Today’s vaccines protect against diseases like polio, measles, meningitis, and others. While these diseases used to cause fatal epidemics with thousands of casualties, your children can stay protected as long as they receive their immunizations.
In addition to administering vaccines, your children's doctor will also perform hearing/vision testing and record important milestones like your child’s height, weight, behavior, social development, and learning abilities. These milestones will then be tracked at regular visits to ensure that your child is on track for excellent growth and development.
The well-child care exam is also an excellent opportunity for you to discuss any concerns or ask any questions you might have about your child’s health, growth, development, or other issues.
The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes a schedule for recommended pediatric healthcare. To view or print the schedule, please click here: https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/periodicity_schedule.pdf
Time for an appointment? Give us a call!
Your child’s health is vitally important, but you don’t have to take care of it alone—Dr. Maria Francis is here to help. To find out more about the importance of well-child care exams and other pediatric services, call Old Fort Bay Pediatrics in Nassau, Bahamas. Dial (242) 377-7050 today to schedule an appointment with your local children's doctor.
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