LAFAYETTE – Children are not the focus of this pandemic, but they should be.
Many pediatricians, Indiana University Health officials said, are worried for children and families, for now and for the future with the many cancellations of well-child visits.
Officials said childhood is a time of rapid growth and change. Children have more well-child visits when they are younger because development is faster during these years.
“While, many of us are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine,” stated Dr. Marshall Criswell, pediatrics at IU Health Arnett, “pediatricians are worried about the many families not willing to continue with well-child visits and vaccinations. This reluctance may cause a resurgence of infections, from measles to whooping cough, meningitis and bacterial sepsis.”
During a well-child visit, the physician will give any vaccines that are due, and check the child’s growth and development. Vaccines protect children by immunizing them against certain diseases. Some vaccines are given as one shot and some are a series of shots.
For a child to be completely immunized against a disease, he or she must get all the recommended doses. There have been outbreaks of serious diseases in children who did not get fully immunized, health officials said.
The benefits of well-child visits include:
- Prevention. Children receive scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. Physicians may also discuss nutrition and safety issues.
- Tracking growth and development. Not only do children grow quickly physically, they grow mentally so it is important to track their social and learning ability milestones.
- Raising concerns. Pediatricians will also ask about development habits such as behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with other family members.
- Team approach. Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among pediatrician, parent and child. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental and social health of a child.
Health officials said regular checkups are an important way to keep track of a child’s health and physical, emotional and social development. These visits are important for all children, including children and youth with special health care needs who may also be under the care of specialists.
In general, pediatricians are concerned that in this crisis, locked into their homes, children are in some danger of becoming invisible.
“Children are not essential employees or front-line heroes and they are not voters or consumers — but they are, of course, our collective future,” Criswell said. “Our job is to keep them healthy and well.”