An­nual phys­i­cals are the cor­ner­stone of a healthy school year

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - YOU AT YOUR BEST - SPE­CIAL TO NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

There are many things that must be done be­fore send­ing your child back to school. In ad­di­tion to buy­ing new clothes and stock­ing your child’s back­pack with the right sup­plies, make sure she or he has an an­nual phys­i­cal and the proper im­mu­niza­tions to start the new school year on a healthy foun­da­tion.

“An­nual check­ups al­low a physi­cian get to know the med­i­cal his­tory of your child and mon­i­tor their de­vel­op­ment from year to year,” said Mil­li­cent Ford, M.D., pe­di­a­tri­cian at The Chil­dren’s Clinic at Spring­dale. “Es­tab­lish­ing base­line in­for­ma­tion and his­tory makes it eas­ier to iden­tify po­ten­tial con­cerns over time. These vis­its are very im­por­tant to main­tain­ing the health of your child.”

Chil­dren should re­ceive an an­nual checkup with their physi­cian even if they are healthy. At a checkup, your child will re­ceive a full phys­i­cal exam in­clud­ing mea­sure­ments, such as height and weight. This is a good time for par­ents to dis­cuss any de­vel­op­men­tal, emo­tional or so­cial con­cerns with the physi­cian. Most in­sur­ance plans, in­clud­ing Med­i­caid, cover a free an­nual well-child visit.

Im­mu­niza­tions are an­other im­por­tant way to pro­tect your child’s health. Many chil­dren be­gin­ning school for the rst time are re­quired to have re­ceived cer­tain vac­ci­na­tions. Re­ceiv­ing the right shots at the right time will help pro­tect your child from con­tract­ing var­i­ous dis­eases and help pre­vent the spread to oth­ers. Talk with your physi­cian to learn what vac­ci­na­tions your child should re­ceive and at what age.

“It is es­sen­tial for chil­dren to re­ceive the right im­mu­niza­tions at the right time, es­pe­cially be­fore be­gin­ning school,” Dr. Ford said. “There is a very low chance that your child will ex­pe­ri­ence side ef­fects af­ter re­ceiv­ing any im­mu­niza­tion, but re­mem­ber these shots will pro­tect your child in the long run.”

If your child or teenager is in­volved in sports or other phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, their coaches may re­quire a sports phys­i­cal be­fore they be­gin to play. A sports exam is sim­i­lar to an an­nual phys­i­cal exam, with the ad­di­tion of the physi­cian’s re­view of sports-re­lated mat­ters, such as nu­tri­tion and in­juries. A pri­mary care physi­cian, such as a fam­ily prac­tice or pe­di­a­tri­cian, will be able to con­duct a sports phys­i­cal for your child.

If you or a fam­ily mem­ber is look­ing for a pe­di­a­tri­cian, Dr. Ford is tak­ing new pa­tients. Call 479-751-2522 or visit

NW-Physi­cians.com to make an ap­point­ment.

Dr. Mil­li­cent Ford

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