LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - For some, a visit to the doctor happens only when they feel sick, but preventative health care is becoming more common, especially for children.
When you see your doctor regularly, they’re able to spot potential health issues before they become a problem. These routine well visits should start 2 to 5 days after birth, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Kipp Ardoin, with the Children’s Clinic of Southwest Louisiana, said there are four main benefits of routine pediatric visits:
1. Prevention. Your child can get scheduled immunizations to prevent illnesses. You can also ask your pediatrician questions about nutrition and safety in your home and at your child’s school.
“As a pediatrician I think we concentrate on preventative type medicine," Ardoin said. "One of the most biggest things we’ve had over the last twenty years or so is vaccinations which helps. So we can pick up on things early and we can act upon those things if we have consistent well visits. It is invaluable to have good well visits.”
2. Tracking Growth and Development. You can see how much your child has grown in the time since their last check-up and you can talk to your child’s pediatrician about their development, as well as bring up milestones, social behaviors and learning abilities.
“Our pediatric population grows as time goes on, so that’s one of our main things we do during a well visit," Ardoin said. "Access to make sure they are meeting all their mile stones to make sure their growth parameters are adequate.”
3. It allows parents or guardians to raise any concerns they may have. You can make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child’s pediatrician about their development, behavior, sleeping habits, eating habits or relationships with friends and family members.
“I try to tell my parents to write things down when you come to well visits,” Ardoin said. “The well visits should be comprised of two things. Number one, the growth and development. We should tell you what the child is doing at that particular age. The second part should be anticipatory guidance. So what are the things that should be happening in the next few months or the next couple of years.”
4. Team approach; establishing a strong relationship between families and pediatricians through regular visits
“It’s hard if you don’t follow up with well visits and then you come for an office visit all of a sudden with several different problems and it’s hard for us to pick out these things and work on those things if we haven’t had a good consistent well checks to know what’s been going on,” Ardoin said.
Ardoin said he understands the benefits of routine pediatric visits firsthand. His son, Samuel, turned 4 in December and had a check-up just a few days later.
“At that check-up he was found to be hypertensive and so through that well visit and the basic tool of screening their blood pressure, we found his blood pressure was really, really high," Ardoin said. "And so through work up for that screening tool and finding that he had high blood pressure, we found out he had a congenital heart defect that went diagnosed these last four years.”
Samuel underwent successful heart surgery in Houston for coarctation of the aorta.
“He’s 100% normal 4-year-old," Ardoin said. “Healthy, healthy, healthy. He takes a little medicine twice a day, but other than that, all his restrictions have been lifted, so he can ride his bike, swing, and play rough and tough with his older brother.”
And his family thanks a routine pediatric visit for catching what could have been a much more serious problem.