You’ve bought them new books, all their stationery, the shoes and the backpacks they wanted. You’ve washed and ironed their new uniforms. The new school term is just a weekend away, and you’re ready –– or, are you?
One of the island’s paediatricians is prescribing that investing in your child’s health for the new term is as vital as all the above. And Dr Ranita Jhagaroo says that your child’s annual health check is a must.
“It is important because the reality is once school starts and you get into the swing of things, that these things will be put away on the back burner,” Dr Jhagaroo told Health TODAY.
Despite this, parents who have not yet taken the child/children for their annual check, are being advised that that doctor’s visit be made, so that “you know what is ahead for the year, and you can plan”.
And Dr Jhagaroo has given a checklist of what needs to be done.
“During that visit, one of the things that they will often do is review the year that has just passed in terms of health issues. If the child, for example, has had any chronic health conditions such as asthma, allergies, eczema, and things like that, then the paediatrician will go over what has happened over the year.
“This ensures that you, as a parent, are comfortable in terms of the frequency, duration and dosage of any medication, as well as any avoidance of any of the triggers that may be needed.”
“[Paediatricians] often assess the growth of your child over the last year because, remember, this is usually an annual thing; so when this assessment is done, it is comparable to the one from the year before.
“So they will be checking their weight and their height, and, for older children, what is known as the body mass index and of course fluctuations in weight gain according to the growth percentiles.”
“The big area, of course, is immunization; so walk with your green books so that you can make sure they are all up to date in terms of their vaccines and if there is anything that is missing, it can be given before September starts.”
The vision test.
“There are a few screens that we often recommend when it comes to kids. There is something known as the vision screen; this is usually done most accurately from the age of four years and onwards . . . . It could be done by any optician and ideally this is done annually –– especially if there is a family history of visual problems such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, or anything like that.”
The hearing test.
“The hearing screen is also important. That is usually done in preschool in the private sector; but if it hasn’t been done, then again that is something that should be done by the time the child is three years of age.
“And the reason behind that is that if there is a problem, it can be picked up early; and if there is a problem
with speech, then it can often be picked up at that assessment.
“Now things like vision in particular are very important because children, like adults, would not appreciate that they would be having difficulty in school in terms of vision. Often a child who is having difficulty seeing the blackboard, the whiteboard in certain cases, or even their work in front of them, will just become disinterested in their schoolwork, and the teachers will often say there was a child who was performing well and now he is not performing as well, and
they are distracted . . . .
“And it can be something as simple as they are not seeing as clearly and it is difficult to focus, and that’s why
they are not managing.”
“As adults, we see the dentist every six months; and children are renowned for not brushing their teeth properly; so going to the dentist every year, every six months is important. Older children should definitely be seen by the dentist, the hygienist, and be given a clean bill, at least annually as well,” Dr Jhagaroo advised.