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Does My Child Really Need A Check-Up Every Year?

By DuPage Medical Group Pediatrics

There are three things that are typically on every parent’s checklist prior to school starting: shop for school supplies, fill out permission forms and schedule a visit to the doctor. Going to the doctor before the beginning of the school year has always been the normal routine, but it’s rare that we stop and think about why we do this. Why do we take our child to the doctor every year? What is the benefit? It is very important that your child is getting checked every year.

Why does my child need a physical?

  • According to the American Association of Pediatrics, it’s important for a child to have a physical every year for school so vaccination records are kept up-to-date and to prevent illness.  You can also ask your physician about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.
  • The doctor is able to track the growth and development. See how much your child has grown in the time since your last visit and talk with your doctor about your child’s development. You can discuss your child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.
  • This gives you the opportunity to raise concerns. Make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child’s physician such as sleep, healthy eating, development and other concerns you may have.  It’s important to develop a plan for your child at an early age to prevent or avoid conditions later in life.  
  • Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among the physician, parent and child. The AAP recommends well child visits as a way to the physicians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental and social health of a child. 
  • If your child is getting a sports physical, it’s important for the doctor to know of past illnesses, family health history or injuries that the child may forget to mention on the sports physical questionnaire.

Is there a difference between a sports physical and a annual physical?

Yes, there can be. The physicians recommend an annual physical be completed by your primary care physician which will meet the requirements of both a school and/or sports physical.  An annual physical allows your child’s physician to discuss important health issues with the child and parent and refill any medications. During a sports physical, the provider determines whether or not the child is healthy enough to participate in a sport  and other  concerns are not discussed.  A sports physical not performed at your primary care provider office may require an annual physical be competed by your primary care physician for any maintenance medication refills or to address other medical concerns. 

If my child is getting a sports physical, should I wait until the end of the summer?

No, don’t wait until the last minute. Schools do not allow a child to participate in a sport, even tryouts or practices, if they don’t have a sports physical on file. It is recommended that your child has a physical at least six weeks prior to beginning a sport. School will be starting up again in August, so make an appointment in order to avoid the last minute rush.

If your child is in need of a sports or school physical, call and make an appointment with one of DMG’s physicians. Also, you can utilize one of our After Hours Care centers if that is more convenient for you.


Topics and Subtopics: General Health

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