Regular well-child exams are an important part of keeping kids healthy and up to
date on immunizations
against many serious childhood diseases.
Checkups also are a chance for
you and the doctor to talk about developmental and safety issues, and for you to get
answers to any questions about your child's overall health. As kids grow, they can
also ask their own questions about their health and changing body.
At yearly exams, kids are weighed and measured, and their results are plotted on
growth charts for weight, height,
and body mass index (BMI). Using
these charts, doctors can see how kids are growing compared with other kids the same
age and gender. The doctor will take a medical and family history and do a physical
During the visit, your child's blood pressure, vision,
and hearing will be checked. Your child
may be screened for anemia, tuberculosis, or high cholesterol.
The flu vaccine, given
before flu season each year, also is recommended.
The doctor might also ask about your child's sleep, exercise, and eating
habits. A yearly exam also lets older kids talk with their doctors about any
questions they have about puberty.
The doctor also might talk with your child about the importance of personal
care and hygiene; warn against using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs; and stress safety
(wearing a bicycle helmet, using seatbelts, etc.).
The doctor also may ask about and provide counseling on behavioral issues, learning
problems, difficulties at school, and other concerns.
As your child becomes a teen, the doctor may ask you to leave the room to allow a
more private conversation. It's an important part of kids moving toward independence
and taking responsibility
for their own health.
If You Suspect a Medical Problem
Parents usually can judge if their child is sick enough for a visit to the doctor.
Some symptoms that may require a doctor's attention include:
changes in weight or eating habits
changes in behavior or sleep patterns
failure to progress in height or pubertal development as expected
a fever and looking sick
frequent, long-lasting vomiting or diarrhea
signs of a skin infection or an unusual or lasting rash
stubborn cough, wheezing, or other breathing problems
Common Medical Problems
Common problems found in this age group include sleep disorders, bedwetting, strep throat, and colds.
Some preteens also may be injured playing sports or other activities, and some kids
develop stress-related stomachaches or headaches.
These are rarely serious, but if a problem persists, call your doctor.