Would you wait six months to ask your auto mechanic about that check engine light? Probably not. The same applies to red flags parents may see regarding their child’s overall health or development.
Parents can ask about any concerns they may have regarding their child’s health when they take him or her to a “well child visit,” says Judy Yang, D.O., a pediatrician at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville. Waiting to make these important appointments could postpone a diagnosis of illness or an opportunity to address a developmental delay.
“Unfortunately, sometimes a child will miss months to years of surveillance because the parents didn’t understand the importance of regular well child exams,” she adds. “And when they return to my care, issues such as developmental delays, dietary problems and behavioral issues have already appeared.
“At well child visits, there are many areas of your child’s health that physicians address, and immunizations are only one of them. I encourage families to discuss with me any concerns they have that could prevent their child from receiving other scheduled medical care.”
What occurs during Dr. Yang’s well child visits? “Basically, we run the whole spectrum. I look at the entire body, from head to toe. We cover nutrition, dental care, safety at home and school, behavioral concerns—for all age groups. I explain what parents can expect in terms of growth and development. There are many developmental milestones tracked, especially during the first few years of a child’s life, and interventions could be instituted more effectively if problems are discovered early enough. For teenagers, we also discuss high-risk behaviors, not only for the teen, but within the family and at school,” Dr. Yang says.
Well child visits typically last longer than other appointments, because pediatricians and family physicians want to have adequate time to answer parent’s questions and address concerns. And, Dr. Yang encourages parents to bring a list of those questions to the appointment.
“That’s even better. Then we won’t forget to discuss anything.” If there turns out to be an additional concern, another appointment may be scheduled so there is sufficient time to explore it.
Well child visits are different from school physicals, she adds, and if parents know their child may be interested in participating in a sport, she encourages them to not delay in scheduling that appointment. “Parents may not know that we can do a sports physical weeks ahead of when the sport may start, so don’t wait until the last minute.”
During the sports physical, Dr. Yang will ask about previous injuries, such as concussions or fractures, and will inquire about a family or personal history of cardiac events or asthma. She also thoroughly examines her young athlete’s musculoskeletal and neurological systems for potential impairments that may impact their performance.
“Please be consistent in coming to these important appointments,” Dr. Yang stresses. “We really are happy to see your child grow and develop well, and want to address any concerns that may come up as soon as possible.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Yang, call the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville at (707) 624-8500.
Dr. Judy Yang follows the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended schedule for well child visits:
- 1 week
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 1 year
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 2 years
- Annually until age 18.