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Back to School Physicals

Posted on Jul 18, 2017

Dr. Rachel Dawkins
Many parents and kids may not think about heading back to school during the middle of summer, but it’s a good time to make sure children are up to date on their health records and prepared for the first day of school. Rachel Dawkins, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and medical director of the pediatric and adolescent medicine clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains the importance of back-to-school physicals.

Why is it important to schedule a visit now?

In August, pediatrician offices are packed with the rush of kids who need an annual physical or vaccines in time for the start of school or the sports season. If you haven’t already made an appointment with your child’s pediatrician, it’s a good idea to make sure kids are up to date on their vaccines and have an exam for any new or recurring health issues.

What is typically discussed at a preventative care visit?

The pediatrician usually discusses all aspects of the child’s growth and development including:

  • development
  • learning and behavior
  • growth spurts/puberty
  • nutrition and exercise
  • vision and hearing

Your child’s doctor also will talk about safety issues, including switching from car seats to booster seats or making sure your child always wears a helmet when bike riding.

When are immunizations required for school?

There are several vaccines your child should receive throughout their childhood. It’s important to make sure they receive these at the correct times to protect them from harmful diseases. Many daycare centers, schools and camps also require shot records to be up to date, so it’s a good idea to get a copy of your child’s immunizations at their annual visit. The state of Florida requires children to be up to date by kindergarten and seventh grade.

It’s a good idea to check in once every year with your child’s pediatrician for the comprehensive visit and so they make sure your child is up to date on vaccines.

Many student athletes are coming in for sports physicals. What is special about a sports physical?

An annual exam is important for young athletes. During the sports physical we focus on a quite few things like:

  • Family history: sudden cardiac death or any other heart concerns
  • Past history of sports injuries and concussions
  • Physical exam: good heart, neurological and musculoskeletal/joint exam

We will also talk about sports safety and topics like preventing injuries and keeping hydrated.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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