Engaging patients in high-quality, compassionate health care

Well visits – are they really necessary?

From your child’s birth on you will be seeing us frequently for checkups for your baby and child.  Some people feel they are not necessary.  So here are some of the reasons for them.

First, we look at your child’s growth.  There are many factors influencing growth, and not all children grow well or normally.  To monitor growth,  we use growth charts to plot your child’s height, weight and head circumference to make sure it is steady, fast enough and that your child’s weight and Body Mass Index (a measure of being overweight or not) are appropriate.  Things like hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency and other illnesses can adversely affect how a child grows.

Second, well visits provide us an opportunity to give your child appropriate vaccines and to find out if other vaccines may be necessary (such as international travel), as well as to give you forms for day care, preschool, and school and school sports.

Third, it is an opportunity to check in with chronic problems.  We can refill medications for asthma, check for any new illnesses or injuries that occurred since the last visit, and try to anticipate other issues that may come up in the year to avoid further appointments.

Fourth, we assess your child’s development through infancy and childhood from birth to five years.  These are important times for your child’s growth, and developmental issues that arise can sometimes be evaluated early to avoid issues later on.  We have an autism screen we use after a year of age and perform a developmental questionnaire at each well visit.  When your child starts school, well visits are time to ask about your child’s performance in school and also how your child is integrating into family and social life.

For me, this is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a pediatrician-watching your child grow.  I am amazed at how quickly time passes and am awed at the accomplishments of my patients.  Over the years I have watched many children grow up and now have parents who were my patients from birth.  That has been a very rewarding part of my job.  When the grandparents show up, I feel like I am in a time warp as I look around the room for their young child, now the parent. The grandchild frequently has similar mannerisms and characteristics of the parent.

And that is my ultimate goal-that your child grows, prospers and thrives through infancy and childhood into adulthood.    Let us know if you have questions about your child during the well visits so you can receive the full benefit they offer.

Stephen Fries, MD

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