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Children’s corner: Medical check-ups before school starts

The start of the new academic year is quickly approaching and that means a never-ending checklist of school requirements and arrangements. But before you handle those, a medical check-up should also be at the top of your to-do list.

“Since most parents see a pediatrician once a year, it is a good chance to make a full medical check-up for kids, even if they do not suffer from health problems, to guarantee children’s immunizations are up to date,” says Atef Shabl, a professor of pediatrics.

Shabel explains that a complete blood count (also known as full blood exam) and urine test are the best way to measure a child’s health and can assists in preventing, monitoring or rapidly treating any ailments.

In addition to medical tests, the doctor will check the child’s pulse, chest and abdomen, which is essential to identifying certain health risks, according to Shabel.

“If a child suffers from chronic disease such as diabetes, parents should seek the advice of specialist physicians to teach their children how to control blood glucose levels and be prepared with an action plan in case a medical emergency occurs,” Shabel says.

Shabel also advises children who take part in school athletic programs to undergo a sports-specific test.

“These tests are important to make sure that child does not suffer from athletic health problems which might prevent them from practicing certain type of sport,” he says.

Watch your child’s behavior to see if they are suffering from anxiety or depression as the school year approaches and get them counseling if it is affecting their health or well-being.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, professor and head of pediatrics at the National Center for Social and Criminological Research, says that screening for ear infections, hearing problems and allergies are also indispensable precautionary measures.

“Children are prone to catch cold in schools as infection can be easily spread in congested areas or through using others’ personal clothing or items,” Abdel Nasser points out. “If a child has a stuffy nose, or other sinus symptoms appear, parents should see an otolaryngologist.”

Receiving an eye exam before starting school is an effective way to rule out vision problems.

“Early detection of vision impairment shields from further complications that can occur,” says Abdel Nasser.

He adds that seeing an optometrist is crucial as children read for long periods during the academic year in addition to spending hours in front of computers, watching television and playing games.   

To be considered fully immunized, Abdel Nasser recommends children get vaccinated against meningitis. A seasonal flu vaccination is another shot required for children who have allergic issues or have a higher risk of serious complications from influenza.

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