This post was sponsored by Unity Consortium as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Parents are adamant about taking their babies and toddlers to the doctor for every recommended check up. As the children get older the urgency to have children taken in for an annual physical seems to wane for many parents. As a school nurse I see many, many middle and high school students who are only seen at the doctor for illness or injury. There are 5 reasons teenagers still need an annual well child check up that may surprise you!
5 Reasons Teenagers Still Need an Annual Well Child Check Up
Mental Health Can Be Addressed
A lot of mental health conditions start showing up during the adolescent years. Screenings for depression are done at well child visits that could potentially save the life of an adolescent. The primary care doctor is often the first line of defense for diagnosing and referring a child on when there are mental health issues going on. One area that is very important to address with both boys and girls are eating disorders during this age span.
There are a lot of safety issues that start coming into play as a child gets older. When they are little the doctor talks to us as parents about safety. As our kids age the doctor will talk to our child directly about safety issues. I think my kids listen a little bit closer when the doctor is speaking right to them!
Motor vehicle safety is a big topic for a well child check. Reminding teens about wearing seat belts, not drinking and driving or being in a car where someone is drinking and driving. Another topic may be gun safety and how accidental shootings happen and what to do to prevent them.
The majority of parents and teens believe that vaccinations are important. Unfortunately, the rates of teen vaccinations are lower than they should be. One reason was that preventative health care and annual well child check ups were not a priority.
Annual check ups are a critical part of preventative health and during these check ups doctors can talk to teens about why vaccinations are needed and how vaccines help them.
The Unity Consortium addresses the challenges that surround adolescent and young adult health. I love their goal of seeing that 9 in 10 adolescents are fully vaccinated against preventable diseases!
Adolescent vaccinations are such an easy way for parents to invest in the long-term health of their children. The recommended vaccinations for teens are:
- Meningococcal–includes two distinct meningococcal disease vaccines (ACWY and B)
- Tdap-tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) and Td Booster (tetanus and diphtheria)
- HPV-human papillomavirus
Check out this info below…it is really interesting! You can read all about Unity Consortium's survey HERE.
High Risk Behaviors
High risk behaviors start younger and younger. Doctors can talk to kids about alcohol use, drug use, sexual activity starting in middle school. I think it helps when kids know that they can have an open discussion about these topics with their physician. It gives them an expert to talk to and ask questions. Starting these talks early will open a pathway of discussion that can help reduce risky behaviors later on.
A big reason that teenagers still need an annual well child check up is that there could be some underlying familial conditions going on that don't present any symptoms. Annual check ups can sometimes uncover these conditions. Some things doctors may look at are high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia and even scoliosis. These are things that may not be noticed if your child only sees the doctor when they are sick.
Does Your Child Get an Annual Check Up?
I see how important annual check ups are in my daily practice as a school nurse. Does your child see the doctor every year or only when they are sick? This is only 5 of the reasons teenagers still need an annual well child check up! There are many more reasons to take your child to the doctor at least once per year!!