children sitting in the classroom

The importance of your child's annual wellness checkup

Children need to have regular preventive health to avoid inappropriate expectations, facilitate academic progress, prevent costly health and dental problems, and develop a therapeutic environment with families.

Older practicing pediatricians recall their early years of practice when insurance did not cover well-child care. Children who came to the office for well care and vaccines could only have their visit paid for by most insurance policies if it was billed under an “illness” CPT code.

Since that time, the scope and intent of well-child care have significantly broadened. Rather than a few screening questions regarding development, standardized and validated developmental screens and screens for autism are administered at regular intervals. Vaccines are covered by insurance or the federal Vaccine for Children Program. Preventive dental health counseling and fluoride varnish treatment are also covered services.

Anticipatory guidance, or discussion of issues that commonly occur at various ages, is an essential component of preventive care, including safety and injury prevention, age-appropriate expectations for behavior, dental health, positive parenting, and discipline and nutrition. Well-child visits also monitor height, weight, and head circumference measurements to intervene should abnormalities develop.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthcare providers monitor a child's development during regular well-child appointments. Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among the health care provider, parent and child. Well-child visits are a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children.

Patricia Beach, MD, is Co-Director of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, and Director of UTMB ABC Child Safety and Protection Team. She is also an Emeritus Scholar, John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine.

Pediatric Primary Care Clinic Near You