Parents often wonder just how often to have their children seen by their family doctor when they are healthy and do not have any complaints.
Here is a guideline:
Initially, infants are seen at 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, and 18 months for immunizations and height and weight screenings.
Age 2-6 children can be seen yearly
Age 7-10 children can be seen every 2 years unless there is a problem
Age 11-18 children should be seen yearly again. This is the growth span and puberty time when hormones are changing, eating disorders become of more concern, girls start menstruating, and boys may grow taller and bones may need evaluation. Yearly exams at this time of growth and development helps to prevent or recognize potential problems during the teen years.
Vision screening should be annual for children aged 5-18
Hearing screening should be done before age 5 and repeated if a problem develops
Scoliosis screening should be done during the physical for children age 10-18
Pap smear for females 10-18 if sexually active. ( I know I believe a 10 year old is too young but unfortunately, in the real world, 10 and 11 year old girls are more sexually active then we want to believe and their health is at risk for this behavior)
Screen for depression, family violence, and drug or tobacco use with every physical exam
Blood pressure at every physical exam or more often if a strong family history of hypertension
Lead screening at 12 months for high risk infants and at other ages if symptoms warrant
Dental exams 2-18 yearly for health and prevention of dental cavities.
This gives parents a brief idea of when those physicals are needed. When your child appears healthy, you may be tempted to skip a well visit, but I encourage you to keep the well visits as part of your child's growth progress. It is those physicals where a physician or nurse may pick up on subtle changes or symptoms that may indicate a potential problem. Prevention is so important in early diagnosis and treatment of otherwise potentially dangerous childhood illnesses and cancers.