Health tips: Back-to-school checkup checklist

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You've filled new backpacks with school supplies, replaced worn-out shoes and scheduled haircuts for...

You've filled new backpacks with school supplies, replaced worn-out shoes and scheduled haircuts for the kids. Now it's time to get down to business and schedule back-to-school checkups for each child. Add a quick trip to the pediatrician, dentist and eye doctor to your summer to-do list. It's back-to-school time in Georgia!

1. Medical checkups

  • Getting shots: Most schools require a series of vaccines and immunizations before a child can enroll. If you're new to the school district or have a young child starting classes for the first time, ask the school for a list of medical requirements. These may differ from the shots your pediatrician will recommend. If your religion bars you from these types of medical treatments, get a letter from your clergy to explain this to the school administration.
  • Medications: The school nurse will want an official list of medications that your child needs to take daily. Have the doctor include both over-the-counter and prescription medications and their exact dosages. Include a list of food allergies and your approval for the school to apply sunscreen to the child when he will be outside for extended periods of time.
  • Sports physical: If your child will take part in sports, she will need a separate sports physical. Let the doctor know which sports the child will participate in and that you need a signed form stating the child is fit for physical activity.

2. Dental checkups

  • Routine cleaning: Schedule a routine 6-month dental cleaning during the summer so you don't have to take the child out of classes for an appointment during the school year. This is also a good time for your dentist to do an exam for proper teeth alignment and positioning. If the doctor finds any abnormalities, he may refer you to an orthodontist or for a complete exam. Is it time to think about oral braces?
  • Oral surgery: If your child is entering his teenage years, a dental exam may prove that it's time to think about having his wisdom teeth removed. A dental X-ray can show if the teeth need to be removed. If so, plan on visiting an oral surgeon for a further assessment and the surgical procedure. The child will need to heal for up to two weeks before starting school.
  • Sports prep: Is your child playing football or participating in wrestling? Ask your dentist about making a custom-fit mouth guard. This protects your child's smile and saves on future dental costs in the event of an oral injury.

3. Vision checkups

  • Eye exam: Children rarely complain of vision problems. This is why it's essential to have the child's vision tested at least once a year. You may be surprised to find out that the child is having trouble reading the board in the front of the classroom or seeing fine print text in a book.
  • New glasses: If your child wears contact lenses or glasses, have him fitted before the new school year starts. His old pair may be squeezing into his temples if he had a growth spurt over the summer. If the child wears disposable contacts, make sure she has a steady supply on order to make it through the school year.

4. Hearing tests

  • Basic screening: In addition to screening your child's vision, have his ears checked. Children don't realize what they're not hearing. Schedule a routine checkup with an audiologist, who will test your child's recognition of several types of sounds.
  • Hearing aids: If your child is hard of hearing, it's time to stock up on batteries for her hearing aid and make sure the unit still fits properly. Plan to meet with the child's teacher and the school nurse to teach them basic functions of the hearing aid, such as helping the child change a battery or how to reinsert the device.

5. Preschool screenings

  • Initial assessment: Children starting school for the first time often attend an initial assessment with physical and cognitive therapists at the school before classes start. This summer screening looks for both physical and mental delays in the child's development. The scores of these tests will determine if your child is ready to start preschool. The assessment also serves as an early indicator of medical issues that may require further attention.

Call an Atlanta-based pediatrician to get your back-to-school checkup started. Allow a few weeks to take care of these checkups since you may get referred to a specialist or need to make follow-up appointments before being allowed to register the child for school.


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