KELLIE KRUGER, M.D., AND
ERIC CURCIO, M.D.
Labor Day is here, and with it comes the end of summer vacation and the start of the school year. In addition to making sure your kids have their pens, pencils, notebooks and folders for the classroom, make sure they have all of their medical care in order, too.
Once children start kindergarten, it’s easy to forget that they still need check-ups. Additionally, most children have completed their routine vaccinations by age four, so they no longer need to be seen by a doctor every few months. So, why is it so important to continue doctor visits, even when they’re feeling well?
Most pediatricians perform vision and hearing screenings at each yearly check-up. This is one of the most common ways of detecting vision problems in school-aged children, and an abnormal exam will prompt a discussion between you and your pediatrician. Hearing abnormalities, while less common, are still picked up during routine office visits each year.
Did you know that your pediatrician is charting your child’s height, weight and body-mass index at each visit? If your child is over- or under-weight, your pediatrician is your consultant to discuss making healthy lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to ensure your child stays healthy as a teenager and adult.
Your pediatrician is committed to helping your child live a healthy life, and that includes excelling in school. That’s why we ask about school performance at every check-up — to make sure things are going well and determine if your child needs help to succeed. Sudden changes in school performance or behavior can indicate more serious physical or emotional issues that need to be addressed, and your pediatrician is a good person to consult with on these issues.
At any age, and particularly during teen years, it’s important to ensure your children make good decisions about friends and social activities, outside of home and school. Their annual physicals are a good time to discuss any of your concerns, while also allowing them to meet one-on-one with their pediatrician and discuss certain issues in confidence.
Believe it or not, your child may still need a vaccine at his or her next visit! Most routine vaccinations are completed by age four, but there are a handful of vaccines that are recommended for pre-teens as well as teenagers. Additionally, there are new recommendations every year regarding flu shots and other health topics, and this year is no different. Pertussis, also called “whooping cough,” is making a loud comeback this year and your annual check-up is the perfect opportunity to discuss vaccines and boosters with your pediatrician to ensure your child remains well-protected.
So as you pack their lunches and see them off on the first day, don’t forget to schedule their annual check-ups. It’s one of the best ways to ensure a healthy and successful school year — for your children and for you.
Drs. Kellie Kruger and Eric Curcio are dual trained in internal medicine and pediatrics and are co-directors of the new UCLA Santa Monica Internal Medicine and Pediatrics practice. For additional information, please call 310. 315.8900.