Experts Urge Checkups for Florida Kids, Including Mental Health

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Health experts say making sure children are current with all their check-ups is important to their health and academic success. File photo: SeventyFour, Shutter Stock, licensed.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Experts are reminding parents to schedule time to get health screenings for kids – and to also think beyond the basic back-to-school physical.

There’s so much to think about for safeguarding kids’ health, and Dr. Candice Jones – a board-certified, Orlando-based pediatrician – said parents should enlist a doctor’s help so they don’t have to navigate any health complications alone.

Jones said a doctor can help with monitoring mental and behavioral changes for a child who’s had a difficult time through the pandemic. She said a wellness check should be comprehensive.

“That maybe parent don’t think about to make sure things are being done,” said Jones. “‘Have you seen the dentist? Have you had an eye check? Are you going to play some sports? Oh, we need to do a sports pre-participation clearance for that as well, which would also require a cardiac screen if you’re at the middle- or high-school level.'”

A pediatrician can also ask questions specific to a child’s age to make sure they’re at a healthy weight, with good nutritional support. Jones added that a simple health checklist includes making sure a child is up-to-date on their immunizations, including flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Experts also urge parents to not overlook kids’ oral health. Dr. Donna O’Shea – national chief medical officer for population health with UnitedHealthcare – said routine dentist visits, and making sure teeth are being brushed twice a day, is the best way to keep smiles healthy and bright.

“Tooth decay is largely preventable, but unfortunately it ranks as the most common chronic disease among children,” said O’Shea. “In fact, by age five, nearly 50% of children have at least one cavity.”

Other recommendations include scheduling a comprehensive eye exam and a hearing test.

O’Shea said it’s important to use ear protection at sporting events or concerts, and to follow the “60-60 rule,” which means limiting the use of earbuds or headphones to no more than 60 minutes, at no more than 60% of the player’s maximum volume.

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