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Back-to-School Physicals, The First Exam of the Academic Year


Dr. Jill Creighton, Pediatrician, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine
What parents should expect during their child’s annual medical exam

Between buying new backpacks and pencils, sneakers and jeans, parents should start thinking about getting their children into the pediatrician for a back-to-school medical exam.

Dr. Jill Creighton, Pediatrician at Stony Brook Children's Hospital says the back-to-school check-up should be an annual event, no matter how healthy your child appears to be at the time.

"A basic back-to-school physical will require a routine exam that is based on the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics,"says Dr. Creighton.

During this routine examination, physicians will record your child's height and weight, blood pressure and pulse. In addition, the physician will also check the heart, lungs, abdomen, skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth and throat of the child to ensure that your child is healthy and that nothing needs further attention. These physicals also typically screen the child for scoliosis, hernias and level of physical maturity according to expectancy for his or her age group. Your child's reflexes, fine-motor development and gross-motor development may also be evaluated.

"Your physician will often review the medical history of both your child and your family to detect patterns for chronic illnesses and diseases that may run in the family," says Dr. Creighton. "In addition your physician will discuss any previous or current illnesses that the child had or has. They will also ask about medications your child takes or has taken, ranging from prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements."

Preventative screenings are designed for the exact reason that the name implies - to prevent the development of serious illnesses and chronic diseases through early detection and treatment. These screenings will usually include routine examinations, blood tests and eye exams. The blood tests will check for common medical problems, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and lead poisoning. As your child ages, these exams are also designed to screen for high risk behaviors, including drugs and alcohol.

Most States requires students in Pre-K through 12th grade be vaccinated according to the state immunization guidelines and proof of vaccination should be turned into school officials.

"Student cannot enroll in school without an immunization record," says Dr. Creighton. "The immunization schedule has recently been updated and now includes new vaccines such as, hepatitis A, a chickenpox booster, a meningitis vaccine and often flu shots are recommended."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) web site fully explains childhood vaccinations, advising you what is needed at what age, for example - the fifth dose of DTaP should be given by time your child enters kindergarten.

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Important Note:

The Stony Brook Medicine University Physicians website is primarily an informational and educational resource. It should not be used in place of medical advice and recommendations you receive from your health care provider. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please seek the advice of your health care provider.

Stony Brook Medicine University Physicians provides marketing advice and consultation to the clinical Faculty associated with the University Faculty Practice Corporations (UFPCs). It does not provide medical care directly or indirectly nor does it oversee, direct, manage or supervise the medical care provided by any of the individual Practices. The individual Practices are responsible for the medical care each Practice provides to its patients. Please note that the Practices listed below are separate University Faculty Practice Corporations (UFPCs).