Preventive Health Care for Children

It is very important to make sure that children have access to preventive care services from their physician and other health professionals.

Preventive health care works to prevent patients from developing illnesses and chronic diseases, which allows for a much better quality of life for the child. There are numerous other benefits for participating in preventive care services including lowered or completely eliminated medical bills and improved health and wellness.

Preventive care services are usually tests or screenings that are used to assess the patient’s health as part of a routine check-up. The tests or screenings detect whether or not the patient has a disease or any health issues that may develop into a disease. If medical problems are detected, action can be taken to prevent the disease from forming, or to delay the onset of that particular disease. In addition, if an illness or disease is detected early enough, treatment can be started immediately, and it will likely be much more effective.

While preventive health care services are available to everyone regardless of age, sex, race, income level or other factors, there are certain preventive services specifically designed for children. The preventive care needed for a specific child will vary depending on a few factors. Those factors generally include age, sex and certain risk factors. A risk factor is a characteristic of the child or the child’s situation that could lead to an increased likelihood of developing a disease or illness. Risk factors may include inadequate hygiene, being at an unhealthy weight and more.

Coverage

It should also be noted that because of the Affordable Care Act, many different insurance policies are required to offer 100 percent coverage for many different preventive health care services. Some insurance policies also may not require a copay, deductible or other form of insurance cost sharing to be paid. However, you will need to contact your insurance agency in order to determine whether the following services require any out-of-pocket charges as part of your coverage.

Preventive Care Services for Children

The following preventive services are broken down into different age categories, although some services may be recommended for children at different ages depending on that child. It is important to speak to your child’s primary care physician in order to understand what preventive screenings are necessary for your child. Read the sections below for specific lists of some of the most common preventive health services available for children:

Preventive Services for Children Age 0 to 11 Months include:

  1. Bilirubin concentration exams for newborns.
  2. Behavioral evaluations.
  3. Blood pressure checks
  4. Blood screenings for newborns.
  5. Gonorrhea preventive medication for all newborn children that is administered to the eyes.
  6. Hearing screening for newborns.
  7. Body mass index (BMI) measurements, along with height and weight measurements.
  8. Sickle-cell disease screening for newborns, along with screenings for any other hemoglobinopathies.
  9. Hypothyroidism exams for newborns.
  10. Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening for newborns.
  11. Iron supplements for children between 6 to 12 months of age who are at risk for anemia.
  12. Screenings for oral health risks.
  13. Tuberculin screenings for children at risk of developing tuberculosis.

Preventive Services for Children Age 1 to 4 Years:

  1. Autism screening between 18 months and 24 months of age.
  2. Behavioral assessments.
  3. Blood pressure screening.
  4. Developmental screening for children younger than 3 years of age.
  5. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) measurements.
  6. Screenings for oral health risks.
  7. Tuberculin testing for children with higher risk of developing tuberculosis.

Preventive Services for Children Age 5 to 10 Years:

  1. Behavioral assessments.
  2. Blood pressure screening.
  3. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) measurements.
  4. Screenings for oral health risks.
  5. Tuberculin testing for children with a higher risk of developing tuberculosis.

Preventive Services for Children Age 11 to 14 Years:

  1. Behavioral assessments.
  2. Blood pressure screening.
  3. Depression screening for children starting routinely at 12 years old.
  4. Hearing screening.
  5. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) measurements.
  6. Tuberculin testing for children with a higher risk of developing tuberculosis.

Preventive Services for Children Age 15 to 17 Years:

  1. Alcohol, drug use and tobacco use assessments for adolescents.
  2. Behavioral assessments.
  3. Blood pressure screening.
  4. Cervical dysplasia screening for sexually active females.
  5. Hearing screening.
  6. Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) measurements.
  7. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, prevention and counseling for adolescents with higher risk.
  8. Tuberculin testing for children with higher risk of developing tuberculosis.

Other Preventive Services for Children at Various Ages:

  1. Dyslipidemia screening for all children between 9 and 11 years old and between 17 and 21 years.
  2. Fluoride supplements for children without fluoride in their home water source.
  3. Hepatitis B screening for adolescents between 11 and 17 years old who are at high risk for hepatitis B.
  4. HIV screening for adolescents who are at higher risk for this condition.
  5. Hematocrit or hemoglobin screening when recommended by physician.
  6. Immunization vaccines for children from birth to 18 years of age. Recommended age and population varies depending on the vaccines. Included vaccines are the flu shot, tetanus, measles, chickenpox, and more.
  7. Lead screening for children at risk of lead exposure.
  8. Obesity screening and counseling services.
  9. Vision screening when recommended by physician.

Discuss Options with Pediatrician

As mentioned above, it is extremely important to speak with your child’s doctor in order to come up with a preventive health care plan that works best for your child. Certain risk factors may influence the decision to have certain tests or screenings done during a different time period than originally planned on. Additionally, there may be other preventive health care tests recommended for your child that are not included in the lists above.

The best time to determine your child’s health needs is during his or her routine wellness check-up. Most of the preventive tests will be performed during these check-up doctor appointments, and they will also provide a good opportunity to speak about any health concerns you or your child may have. If preventive health care is used appropriately, your child can increase his or her likelihood of staying healthy by preventing or quickly treating any diseases or illnesses.

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