NEWARK—Parents and children know the importance of choosing the perfect first-day-of-school outfit, but just as significant are the medical checkups and plans that help children to begin the year with the best health possible.
Nwando Anyaoku, M.D., MPH, Director of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, suggests that parents help their children to transition back to school with a clean bill of health.
“By compiling a back-to-school checklist of health issues to address with the pediatrician and school nurse, families can make sure that children are prepared to start another busy school year,” says Dr. Anyaoku. “Good health begins with medical checkups before the start of school.”
The following are some suggestions from CHoNJ:
· Have your child’s vision screened. A visit to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam is an important part of overall health. According to an American Optometric Association survey of K-12 teachers, 81 percent believe vision and learning are interdependent. And don’t forget to invest in one-piece, wrap-around, polycarbonate sports frames for all contact sports.
· Immunizations up-to-date? Be sure to review any missed or new immunizations at your child’s checkup. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website explains childhood vaccinations, advising what is needed at what age. If you have recently moved from another state, check with a pediatrician to see if your child meets the state’s regulations.
· Does your child receive medication on a regular basis for a chronic problem, or have a food allergy? Any health problems should be made known to the school. School nurses and teachers should be informed, especially if they are the ones to administer the medicine. Speak with them before school begins and work out an emergency action plan.
· Have your child’s hearing tested. If your child is listening to the television or music at a loud volume, or tends to favor one ear over the other when listening, it may be a sign of hearing loss.
· Update emergency contacts. Make sure your child’s emergency telephone number card is accurate and current. If you move or change a number, correct it the next day. The child’s physician and dentist need to be listed.
· Is your child apprehensive about the new school year? Remind your child that he or she is not the only student who is uneasy about the first day of school. If after a few weeks your child continues to be anxious, bring this to the attention of his or her teacher.
· Watch out for excessively heavy backpacks. The AAP advises parents not to strap an overweight backpack on their children— never more than 20 percent of the child’s body weight. Some children may even prefer a rolling backpack. Make sure all backpacks have wide straps for support.
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