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health & wellness
Health news for the whole family
To help your child get a smart start on the academic year, send them back to school in tip-top health. This is a great time to get dental, hearing and vision checkups for your kids (and even yourself).
VISION TESTS. As much as 80 percent of learning is visual, so ensuring children can see properly will help them to reach their full potential in the classroom. And while eyesight plays an essential role in learning, many children have a vision problem and aren’t aware of it (such as eye coordination, lazy eye, and near or farsightedness).
Have your child’s vision tested before he starts kindergarten (ideally by age 3) and annually until age 18. Invest in one-piece wrap-around polycarbonate sports frames for protection if your child will participate in contact sports.
HEARING/SPEECH SCREENING. If you suspect your child may have a hearing or speech problem, check with your doctor for a referral to an audiologist and/or speech specialist. An undetected problem could interfere with your child’s learning.
DENTAL CHECKUP. More than 40 percent of kids have some form of tooth decay by the time they start kindergarten, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Regular dental checkups should begin by age 3. A yearly checkup before school starts is a good way to detect and prevent serious dental problems.
Many kids, especially those entering school for the first time and those switching schools, experience some anxiety about the first day of school. Parents can help ease this by talking about what to expect. Attend an open house or take a tour of the school prior to the first day to add familiarity to what’s to come. Remind your child that he is not the only student who is uneasy about the first day of school. Give your child the first few weeks of school to settle in. If worries aren’t gradually decreasing, or they are interfering with other areas of life (such as a sudden clinginess, trouble sleeping, etc.), talk to your child’s teacher, family doctor or a mental health professional.
Screen All Kids for Heart Problems, says AAP
All children should be screened for conditions that may put them at risk for cardiac
arrest or death, a new American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement recommends. The screening should be done whether or not kids play sports, and it is particularly important as they begin middle school or junior high, AAP says.
About 2,000 people in the U.S. under age 25 suffer sudden cardiac death each year. Many had structural heart anomalies, research shows, but the causes for up to 40 percent of such deaths are unexplained.
AAP recommends pediatricians and other primary care providers ask whether a child or teen has ever fainted, had an unexplained seizure, or experienced chest pain or shortness of breath, or if a family member has a history of heart conditions or death before age 50.
If there is a concern, an electrocardiogram should be the first test, and it should be interpreted by a doctor trained to recognize electrical heart disease. The doctor should factor in a patient’s clinical history and consider referral to a specialist.
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