Knowing when to take young children to the doctor for well-baby and well-child checkups is easy, because the schedule for immunizations and development checks is fairly standard. However, beyond age 5, things are less clear because children do not need any immunizations until they are around 11 years old and fewer development milestones occur, according to Louis Miceli, D.O., a Family Physician with Porter Physician Group Primary Care.
Dr. Miceli believes an annual physical is an important part of a child’s overall health.
“All children should have a yearly physical exam, and children with a chronic or potentially chronic condition may need more than that,” he explains. “Office visits for a particular ailment are more limited to a defined problem, such as an ear ache, and could miss a significant hidden problem. A planned physical exam, on the other hand, provides us with an opportunity to address a child’s general well-being.”
Dr. Miceli uses the devoted time he has with children during physical exams to talk about age-appropriate safety and health information, such as wearing a bike helmet, computer time limits and healthy living and eating habits. “As I’m talking to the child, the parents are hearing the information, too,” he says. “It’s important education for both the child and parents. Children need to be guided by the parents to lead a positive, health-oriented lifestyle. They just aren’t going to do it on their own.”
He also reviews the child’s immunization record and talks with parents about any changes in the family history. “That can impact a child in so many ways,” he stresses. “You’d be surprised by how many children have high cholesterol because of their heredity and diet. If we find out early, we can address heart disease concerns so the child doesn’t have to follow in the same unhealthy footsteps down the road.”
The following are typically checked in a yearly exam:
- Height, weight and blood pressure
- Head and neck exam
- Abdominal exam
- Scoliosis check (ages 10-18)
- Extremities exam
- Lung exam
- Heart exam
- Cholesterol (depending on family history)
During the school day, students and teachers are occupying very close quarters. This makes it easier for germs to spread from one individual to another. “There is always a jump in colds and flus, once kids are back in school,” shares Ann Batagianis, Porter’s infection control analyst. “This is especially true as we get to the colder months when everyone is cooped up inside.”
Batagianis went on to say that good old soap and water are the first line of defense to help keep illness away. She adds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone six months or older should receive an annual flu vaccine (either the flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine). Flu season in the U.S. can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
Dr. Miceli agrees that everyone should have their yearly flu vaccination. “The flu can cause severe complications, especially for children, the elderly and the chronically ill. Not to mention a bad case of the flu could leave someone sick for weeks with residual problems that could last even longer. A child could fall severely behind in school. If we can do something to help protect children from that type of illness then there should be no question.”
Dr. Miceli is in practice at Porter Physician Group Primary Care, located at 3125 Willowcreek Road, in Portage. To schedule an appointment with him, call (219) 762-3175. For more information about Porter Physician Group, call 1-844-PPG-DOCS or visit PorterPhysicianGroup.com.
Porter Health Care System has two hospital campuses and seven outpatient facilities serving Porter, Lake, LaPorte, Starke and Jasper counties. With more than 350 physicians representing 50 medical specialties, Porter Health Care System is committed to medical excellence and personalized, patient-centered care. Porter is directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that proudly includes physician owners, including certain members of the hospital’s medical staff.