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7 Key Benefits of Annual Well-Child Visits

7 Key Benefits of Annual Well-Child Visits

You have a busy schedule and, most likely, so does your child. With school, playdates, after-school activities, and sports practice, making it to a well-child visit seems unnecessary and inconvenient, especially if your child appears to be thriving. 

Well-child visits are critical to your child’s long-term health, however. Here’s why our team at Penguin Pediatrics, consisting of Dr. Umesh Kodu and Dr. Andrea McKennon, wholeheartedly recommends annual well-child visits. These visits are essential to your child’s preventive care and can catch potentially major issues before they escalate. 

There are seven key things that annual well-child visits can do for your child. 

1. Track growth and development

One of the most important things we do at annual well-child visits is track your child’s growth. We also want to make sure your child’s development stays on track. We’ll check height, weight, hearing, and vision as well as other important markers.

If growth and development is irregular, it may indicate a potential problem. Detecting these early on means your child has the best chance of treatment. 

2. Keep immunizations up to date

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends many essential vaccines be administered between birth and age 4 years. During this time, you schedule well-child visits every few months. From ages 4-6 years, many children still need essential vaccine boosters, but the pattern of well-child visits slows to just once per year.

If you skip your child’s annual well-child visit, they may be missing out on important immunizations. Other vaccinations, like for the flu or COVID-19, need to be administered yearly. 

As your child reaches adolescence, additional important vaccines, like boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (TDAP); the meningococcus vaccine; and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine should be administered to protect them from serious diseases. 

3. Help you with sleep and safety

Annual well-child visits are a time to talk about your child’s sleep habits. Children from ages 3-5 need 10-13 hours a night and ages 6-13 need 9-11 hours. If your child is falling short, we can offer strategies to help them get better slumber.

Being safe includes making sure they are using car seats, seat belts, helmets, and appropriate sports gear. These small measures help your child avoid preventable injuries. 

4. Help with nutrition and weight

In the last 30 years, the number of children with obesity has tripled. One out of every three children is overweight or obese. We offer recommendations for proper nutrition and how to keep your child from gaining excess weight, even if you have a busy schedule. 

Being overweight or obese can have a very real effect on your child’s overall health and put them at risk of developing chronic problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

5. Catch conditions early

A healthy-looking child may have underlying conditions that can cause serious health concerns later on. At annual physicals, we’re on the lookout for asthma, heart issues, and problems with eyesight and hearing. 

6. Prepare your child for school

There’s a reason annual physicals are often timed with the start of school. A physical can help assure you that your child is ready for school. You can be prepared if they need corrective eyewear or have a learning challenge that may require specific interventions from your school’s administration. Annual physicals also assess your child’s readiness for certain sports.

7. Evaluate social and emotional needs

Annual well-child visits don’t just examine your child’s physical health. We also consider their mental well-being. We can ask questions to make sure that issues like peer pressure, bullying, social media, eating disorders, and substance use are addressed. 

If your child is due for their annual well-child visit, contact Penguin Pediatrics in Ashburn or Stone Ridge, Virginia, to schedule the appointment. We welcome children of all ages to visit us every year, including school-age children and adolescents. 

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