When it comes to preventative healthcare, the United States is still far behind many other countries. Millions of children and infants are deprived of basic preventative care. Only 14% of children receive preventative dental care while only 21% undergo developmental screening in a given year.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, parents must schedule six appointments for children before they turn one. This is known as a ‘well-baby’ visit. This visit is not the same as the one you make for an illness. In this visit, the doctor makes sure your child is healthy and is developing normally.
Let’s take a look at some of the common concerns that can be addressed if parents pay the right attention to preventative healthcare:
As a parent, you should know that you need to get your child’s vision checked even if they don’t show any visible signs of weak eyesight. Ideally, your child should first get their eyes tested between the ages of three and five.
Other than a weak eyesight, the doctor will look for signs of two main problems:
- Lazy eye: This condition is also known as amblyopia and usually develops during infancy or early childhood. Lazy eye causes blurred vision that can’t be fixed with the help of contact lenses or powered spectacles.
- Crossed eyes: The medical term for this condition is strabismus. Children who deal with this condition have difficulty keeping both their eyes aligned.
According to the American Optometric Association, both of these conditions are completely treatable if they’re detected at an early age.
When you take your child for their first preventative healthcare visit, the doctor will lay out an immunization schedule. These vaccines need to be administered at the right time to keep the children safe from a number of ailments.
Newborns inherit antibodies from their mothers during the gestation period. However, during the first year of their life, this immunity is lost and can only be replaced through vaccination. Preventative vaccination not only helps keep your child safe but also helps avoid the cost of hospitalization and medications.
Up till the child turns two months old, the CDC recommends getting them vaccinated for Hepatitis B, polio, Pneumococcal (PCV), Rotavirus (RV), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). The child must be taken for another dose after they turn 4 months old and 6 months old. After 6 months, the flu preventative vaccine starts and it must be taken once every year. Once the child turns one, the doctor will recommend getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Chickenpox (Varicella), Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
These assessments are important if your child behaves in a way that might be concerning. There is no single behavioral assessment test and no yes or no for an answer. Your child’s doctor will carry out multiple tests and assessments to learn more about the underlying causes. These are mostly developmental delays, ADHD, or mental health problems.
One of the most widely used behavioral assessment scale is the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. This test helps the doctor understand how the child’s physical and cognitive abilities differ compared to their peers. Another test called the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist also gauges how well the child does socially and academically.
These tests are not the same as a diagnosis. You don’t have to take your child to a behavioral specialist only if you feel the need to. They’re more of preventative measures that highlight areas of strengths and weaknesses. This information helps parents and teachers understand and deal with the child better.