Knowledge is Power: What to ask at your child’s next physical

By Amy Vergin

Scheduling your child’s physical, typically right before every school year, is a breeze. But when the appointment day arrives and you’re in your healthcare professional’s office, you might find yourself with “white coat brain lock.” Instead of getting tongue-tied, find everything you need here to make your next well-child exam a success.

HOW DO I MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE APPOINTMENT?

Nothing is worse than getting to the doctor’s office and losing your ability to ask questions, getting hit with an inferiority complex, or simply running out of time. To make matters worse, a study conducted by the Annals of Family Medicine found a physician will spend 17.5 minutes per patient for routine exams, giving you less than 20 minutes to find answers to the questions you have. When it comes to your child’s health, these questions might be the most important part of the visit. What can you do? The following is a list of tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your child’s physicals.

Be early. This seems like a simple enough task, but the reality is that many people struggle to get there on time, especially with kids in tow. Difficult though it may be, it is crucial: Arriving even 15 minutes early allows you to fill out important paperwork ahead of time. If your physician is running ahead of schedule, you’ll be prepared.

Time it right. Want to make sure things are running smoothly? Try scheduling your appointments earlier in the day or right after lunch. These times tend to be less busy, giving you less of a wait and potentially more time with the doctor. Avoid usual naptimes as well. The visit will go more smoothly if your child is well-rested and not fighting to stay awake.

Be prepared. Physicians do their best when you can provide them with the right information. Bring medical records, x-rays, or whatever else might be helpful. If your child is experiencing an illness, bring photos, videos, a list of symptoms, and a list of other medications if some have been used already. This makes it easier for the doctor to get to the root of the illness.

Ask quest ions. Doctors use medical jargon without meaning to, but this often leaves parents with more questions than answers. Speak up! If they are talking too quickly or you are not able to understand them, more often than not, your doctor will be willing to restate what they are saying.

Be honest. Not giving the physician the full scoop on your child’s habits will make their jobs harder in giving the all-clear and an A+ for health. What they’ve been eating, what activities they’ve been participating in, what they do for fun—all of these things could be important when it comes to the wellbeing of your children.

Write down questions. Remember the “white coat brain lock?” Avoid it by writing down questions before heading to the office. Also doing research to familiarize yourself with a few medical terms might help you understand what the doctor is saying.

Check your resources. Are you in your car and headed home when you remember something you were dying to ask about? Don’t worry! Call the office later—there will usually be a medical assistant or nurse who can try to answer your questions.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE PHYSICAL?

According to healthfinder.gov, children need to have seven regular checkups between the ages of 1 to 4. The times are: 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 2 1/2 years, three years, and four years, plus the times they need to be brought in for illnesses.

Each physical will look a little different as your child matures from a newborn into adulthood, but they are all based on the guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Physicians will typically check height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse. Then they check major organs like heart, lungs, abdomen, skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, and throat to make sure there are no abnormalities. Screenings will also take place, first to check for scoliosis and hernias, and then to also check your child’s physical maturity, reflexes, fine-motor, and gross-motor development.

Another aspect of the visit will be to review the child’s medical history. This is the time to pull out any of those documents, x-rays, and lists of medications we mentioned previously. The doctor is checking for any chronic illnesses or diseases.

There are also a handful of other screenings that will check your child for diabetes, bad cholesterol, lead poisoning, and tuberculosis.

Finally, vaccines are given periodically.

SHOULD MY CHILD HAVE VACCINES?

Vaccines are a hot topic right now in the US, and with good reason. With concerns about vaccines causing autism and other troubling health issues, more parents are questioning whether vaccines are the way to good health for a child. A 2011 study in Pediatrics concluded that 10 percent of parents of young children either refused or delayed vaccinations. Most who delayed the vaccine schedule set by CDC did so because they felt that it was safer.

Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), has pushed hard for vaccine reforms and informed consent protections in the public health system for the last three decades. Fisher noted in a statement to the Institute of Medicine that “the 2011 IOM report, Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence & Causality, is one of the most important because it reviewed both biological mechanism and epidemiological evidence for eight vaccines recommended and mandated by government for universal use by children and adults.” Fisher went on to say that the 2011 reports reaffirmed previous IOM reports that vaccines can cause brain and immune system dysfunction and “vaccine science gaps hamper complete understanding and evaluation of adverse effects.”

According to Fisher, it’s not in the public’s best interest for physicians around the world to apply the “one-size-fits-all approach” to administering vaccines to children.

Aristo Vojdani, PhD—founder and CEO of Immunosciences Lab, Inc—has a different perspective. He believes that, though vaccines serve a purpose, they can and should be delayed. Instead of following the CDC-approved schedule, Vojdani chose to limit his children’s vaccinations to one every three months in order to avoid overwhelming their immune and detoxification systems.

Whether you are an advocate for vaccines or not, vaccines have the potential to help protect children against 14 different diseases by the time they hit two years of age.

WHERE SHOULD MY KID BE?

There is a multitude of milestones your child should hit during certain months and years of their life. Research these milestones and see which ones your child accomplishes. If something doesn’t seem right, remember to ask your physician about this at their next appointment. The only way to make sure your child receives a proper physical exam is to be an informed advocate for them. Shock your doctor at the next visit with all the new information you’ve acquired!

KIDS AND VITAMINS

Kids and vitamins have always seemed to go hand in hand. The gummies, the chewables, and liquid vitamins are what come to mind, but how do you know which one is the best? The most popular children’s vitamin on the market right now is shockingly the worst for your family to be using. Flintstones Vitamins contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), aspartame, aluminum, artificial colors, and a multitude of other toxic chemicals. Moreover, many ingredients that are found in the Flintstones Vitamins are considered hazardous and are banned in the European Union. So what are the options?

For starters, parents should stay away from the synthetic vitamins and aim for food-based ones. Synthetic vitamins are manufactured in a lab with chemicals and do not come from edible products. The body usually cannot absorb them as easily as food-based vitamins. You will be able to tell the difference between the two vitamins because it will be labeled appropriately. If it does not say “food-based” then it was made synthetically.

When picking your vitamin, look for ones that are multi-vitamin, multi-mineral, contain essential fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, probiotics, and antioxidants. That should cover the basic needs of your child.

Head to our website at naturalsolutionsmag.com and look for article “Demystifying the Multivitamin” in the search bar to learn even more about what you and your children should be taking!

 

More quick tips and fast facts:

>>Bring a notepad to take notes. This will help you remember the answers to your questions later on!

>>Types of exams: Well-child visits, physical exams, and sports exams are all essentially the same thing, though the focus may be slightly different.

>>7 regular checkups by age 4: According to healthfinder.gov, children need to have seven regular checkups between the ages of 1 to 4. The times are: 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 2 ½ years, three years, and four years, plus the times they need to be brought in for illnesses.

>>Exams and school: Specific immunizations are required for children to enter certain grade levels, and physicals are recommended a few times before your child enters high school.

 

Questions to Ask

For children 1-4:

>>How do I get them to try new foods?

>>What is a healthy weight for my child at this age?

>>How do I make sure my children are getting enough physical activity?

>>What do I do about changes in their sleeping habits?

For children 11 to 14:

>>What are some of the physical changes that will occur at this age?

>>How do I talk to my child about sex?

>>How will I know my child is growing and developing on schedule?

For more questions, look online at healthfinder.gov

 

Questions your physician or nurse will ask

>>Does your child have trouble following directions?

>>Does your child complain of headaches/pain?

>>Does your child always sit in the backseat and in a safety seat?

>>What kinds of games and activities does your child do with other kids?

>>What does your child eat on a normal day?

>>Have there been any major changes in the family recently?

 

Vaccines available for your child:

>> Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP)

>> Hepatitis A (Hep A)

>> Hepatitis B (Hep B)

>> Human papillomavirus (HPV)

>> Haemophilus influenza (Hib)

>> Inactivated poliovirus (IPV)

>> Influenza (IV)

>> Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

>> Meningococcal conjugate, or meningitis (MCV4)

>> Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)

>> Rotavirus (RV)

>> Varicella, or chickenpox (VAR)

Note: These are what the CDC currently lists as possible vaccines. These are also not in the order your child should take them.

Your Choice: The decision about whether or not to vaccinate your children is a highly personal choice that can only be made after considering the individual circumstances of each child or family and weighing the risks and benefits involved. By presenting this information, Natural Solutions hopes to assist you in coming to your own decision—one that is best for your family—whichever direction you choose to pursue. For additional information we have provided additional links on our website concerning this issue.