The number of U.S. kids receiving well-child care has increased in the past 10 years. An estimate from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that the rate of children age 10 to 17 who did not receive a well-child checkup in the past year dropped from 31 to 21 percent.
That’s great news. It means an increasing number of tweens and teens are getting preventive health care. Having good childhood care bodes well for lifelong health.
Wondering whether your teenager still needs well-child visits? Here are some compelling reasons why they do.
Tracking and Testing
Routine visits on a regular schedule help a pediatrician establish what “normal” means for your child. Every person has characteristics unique to them, like their normal temperature, rate of growth, diet preferences, and history of injuries. Well-child visits establish this baseline information.
Over time, your pediatrician can track these kinds of factors and make recommendations. Consistent visits make it more obvious when something isn’t right. Your doctor has the data they need to recommend follow-up tests or lifestyle changes.
It’s Good for Mental Health
Research shows well-child visits are good for mental health, especially in older children. Doctors report that these visits provide an opportunity for kids to express emotional concerns that might not otherwise be addressed.
Routine checkups can reveal signs of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and alcohol and drug abuse. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends routine depression screenings for adolescents, after research showed 50% of cases of depression were missed by family doctors.
Early Warning Signs
There are also other early warning signs that can be caught during a routine well-child visit. Abnormal cholesterol and high blood pressure, for example, are quite serious in children - and aren’t things you’d necessarily notice from your child’s appearance or behavior.
Catching these early warning signs is crucial for limiting the risk of long-term health issues. You could prevent something that would affect your child years or decades down the road.
Well-child visits are a time for parents - and kids - to raise general health concerns. If something has been nagging at you, but you weren’t sure if it merited a doctor’s visit, now’s the time to bring it up.
Perhaps your teen is extremely picky about food, or recently adopted a vegan diet. As a parent, you might wonder what the pediatrician thinks about their nutritional needs. A well-child visit is a great time to talk about it.
Remember, your child might prefer to discuss their concerns privately with the doctor. This is especially true when it comes to sexual health issues like STDs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends annual well-child visits between the ages of 3 and 21 years (and more frequently before age 3). Many family doctors don’t take patients under age 16 or 18, so it’s important to stay connected with your pediatrician.Need to make a well-child appointment for your child? Contact Johnson Memorial Pediatric Specialists today.