As 2017 begins, families all over the world are penning New Year’s resolutions, which include health and fitness promises for both parents and kids. Beside eating more organic vegetables, taking more family walks and having more tech-free Fridays, we should also be scheduling in more preventative check-ups for the kids, says paediatrician Dr. Rania Ayat Hawayek. Here, we find out why...
How often should a child get a well-child check-up, and why?
According to all the leading paediatric institutions, such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the American Academy of Paediatrics, up to the age of two years, a child should have a preventive paediatric check-up every few months, and then annually from three years. When the child is well and not presenting with acute symptoms, the paediatrician is able to focus more on the other, perhaps less obvious, aspects of the child’s health, such as growth measurements, development and behaviour, vision and hearing, oral health and, with older children, risk of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, with obesity being a major concern nowadays.
So even if we’ve been recently for illness we should still do one?
Yes, because, invariably, when a child feels unwell, they’re not as cooperative as is necessary to do a detailed preventive assessment, and the parents are usually exhausted from looking after their sick child. Therefore, the paediatrician is unable to complete the check-up, which entails lots of discussion and a lengthier examination.
what should a check-up include?
In addition to vision, hearing, oral health, and so on, an in-depth assessment of growth (weight, height, BMI), as well as a dietary discussion to assess growth and nutritional status. The physical examination also includes the back, with an assessment of scoliosis risk, a thorough examination looking for masses, organ and lymph node enlargement (cancer screening) and a psychosocial assessment, looking for signs of depression, for example.
What questions should we ask?
In advance of your child’s wellness check, it’s worth making a rough food diary, in order to discuss whether or not the portions and variety are age-appropriate and healthy. You should also make a note of any questions; however unimportant they seem. These can range from which bath products are best used for skin health and how much milk they should consume, to how to arrange hearing and vision assessment and who the best paediatric dentist is.
what are the most common serious illnesses that can be picked up?
We can pick up signs of developmental delay, which may point to serious genetic or metabolic diseases. In the older child, developmental and physical assessment can highlight signs of autism, organ and lymph node enlargement, which may be cancerous and signs of nutritional deficiency which, if not addressed, can lead to long-term health and growth problems.
Contact Dr. Rania Ayat Hawayek at Infinity the Family Medicine Clinic, Village Mall, Jumeirah 1 (04 343 6684).