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Don't Let COVID-19 Scuttle Your Child's Health Exams

THURSDAY, June 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Wondering whether stay-at-home advisories mean you should skip your child's check-up? According to one pediatrician, parents should keep their kids' regular health appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm having these conversations every day with my patients," said Dr. Mona Patel, an attending physician in the division of general pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "I'm encouraging families to come in. It's so important that children continue to get the health care they need, including preventive care."

It's important not to wait until the pandemic is over to get your child immunized. This is especially true for babies and children younger than 2 years. Vaccinations are timed with the risk that a child could get a specific disease, Patel explained.

For example, pertussis (whooping cough) can be devastating for younger babies, so the first pertussis vaccination is scheduled for 2 months, followed by two more, at 4 months and 6 months of age.

Vaccine-preventable illnesses pose a much higher risk to children than the new coronavirus, according to Patel.

It's also important to continue well-child visits during the pandemic, she said in a hospital news release. Besides giving vaccines, doctors use these visits to assess a child's growth and development, and to talk with parents about nutrition, behavior issues, sleeping patterns and a child's general health and well-being.

This helps doctors detect problems and provide early care to the child, she noted.

Even kids with chronic health issues should continue their regular appointments, Patel said. It's crucial for them to get required imaging or scans, blood tests, treatments and exams so the doctor can monitor their condition. Delaying or skipping care could cause your child's condition to worsen.

If you're concerned about the risks of taking your child to regular health appointments, ask your doctor what precautions are in place to protect you and your child during an in-person visit, Patel advised.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital Los Angeles, news release, June 15, 2020

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