Pediatric associations have suggested that from age three children should get an annual well-child checkup. It should cover everything from how much you read to your child, the risk of lead paint contamination in your home, hearing, dental care, physical and cognitive development to potential familial health problems such as elevated LDL (lousy) cholesterol. Doctors should talk directly to preteens about drug use, alcohol and sexual activity.
If your pediatrician isn’t talking to you about these issues, bring them up yourself. But don’t stop there. Here are some other important ways to protect your child from risky accidents, unnecessary illness and life-long health challenges.
Home Safety: Childproofing
1. Did you know that more than 700 children in North America 14 and younger die annually from unintentional drowning, many in pools that lack secured fences and gates? And for every child who drowns, another five end up in the emergency room for submersion injuries.
To do: If you have a pool, make sure it’s surrounded with an isolation fence and secure gate.
2. Laundry pods — those super-concentrated detergent balls — are a major risk for kids, even though the industry adopted voluntary, improved standards in 2015.
A study released last spring in the journal Pediatrics revealed that from January 2013 through December 2014 poison control centers in the U.S. received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposures among children younger than six. And recently, in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers reported on 480 kids who in 2015 received ocular burns when liquid in the pods squirted out into their eyes.
To do: The researchers suggest if you have kids younger than six, stick with traditional laundry detergents.
3. Guns in the home are a major childhood hazard. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, 1,500 kids a year die from gun violence. But many docs are reluctant to bring up the topic. Help change that.
To do: If you have a gun at home, keep gun and ammo locked up separately; when visiting friends and relatives with your kids, ask if there are unsecured guns in the home.
Other Serious Health Risks
1. One study found that docs bring up a child’s excess weight only 22 per cent of the time.
To do: Ask your doc to determine your child’s BMI (if 6 or older) and discuss immediate and long-range health repercussions. Early overweight increases chances for premature heart disease, diabetes, social and emotional problems and more.
2. Most docs advocate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccination schedule for kids. So …
To do: Robert Kennedy Jr. and Robert De Niro promised $100,000 if you prove vaccines are safe. The YOU Docs spent a month reviewing every study on vaccine safety and interviewing 150 experts on all sides of the issue. Our conclusion: Vaccines aren’t perfectly safe, but the chance of significant disease-preventing benefit is more than 40,000 times the risk. That’s a pretty impressive degree of safety.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.