Why Does My Child Need An Annual Physical?


Some parents ask us why their child needs a physical every year when they seem perfectly healthy. Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, we feel strongly that an annual physical plays a very important role in the health of your child and should take place every year even if your child hardly ever gets sick.

Not only do physicals give us the opportunity to see you and your child at least once a year, they allow us to really focus on your child’s physical and emotional well-being when they’re well, rather than sick.

Have there been any changes in the past year?

As we all know, a lot can happen in a year, and it’s important for us to be made aware of any changes in your child’s health, their school or even your family situation. We encourage you to bring a list of questions, concerns, anxieties and observations about any facet of your child’s health to the appointment. We will take as much time as is necessary to fully address all of these.

Tests and measurements tell us a lot about your child’s health

Lauren Adler_02R WEB72

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

An important benchmark of your child’s health is his/her growth. During a physical, we will weigh and measure your child and plot his/her growth progress on national growth charts. This allows us to assess overweight or underweight issues, general nutrition and normal development.

We also check for any emerging health problems. Based on your child’s history and our observations at the time of the physical,  we can determine whether or not we need to do blood or urine testing or any further tests. If a problem is discovered, we can refer your child to a specialist.

In addition, if your child is on prescription medications, we require an annual physical in order to continue writing those prescriptions.

Immunization history

Having a long-term history with your child is very important when it comes to his/her immunization history. A current record of all vaccinations helps us ensure that they are all are up-to-date, which not only is required by most school districts but is a critical step in avoiding preventable diseases, like measles.

Also, every year there are new medical advances in child care and new preventative vaccines come on the market. During your child’s physical, we will pass along any new developments or recommendations for your child’s health you can be as informed and up-to-date as possible.

Sports physicals

Many school sports programs require a physical examination for participation, and we agree with that requirement. However, in-school sports physicals are typically not as thorough as the complete physical examinations done by our board certified pediatricians in our offices and tend not to address a child’s overall health. Also, we cannot complete a school or sports health form unless we do the evaluation.

Physicals help us build a relationship with your child

One of the best advantages of coming to our offices regularly is that we really get to know your child as a person, not just when they’re sick or need a flu shot. Annual physicals give us the opportunity to build long-standing relationship with our patients, something that proves to be very valuable when they hit the adolescent years and issues such as sex, drugs, body image and peer pressure, just to name a few, are front and center. To be able to talk frankly with their doctor about these sensitive issues is extremely important, and that level of familiarity needs to be built over time.

For the ongoing health of your child, please come see us

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, our #1 goal is for your child to be happy and healthy, and an annual physical is a vital component of that. Please make an appointment to come in and see one of our pediatricians. We look forward to seeing you and your child!

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By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball