TODAY   |  August 26, 2013

What to ask during back-to-school checkups

The issues your children face during their development change over time. Diane Debrovner of Parents magazine and Dr. Delaney Gracy, Children's Health Fund, reveal what to look for back-to-school checkups, from allergies to drug and alcohol abuse.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in today's classroom, back to school check ups from hearing tests to flu shots, the right tests at the right age can actually help your children perform better in class.

>> that's right. she is deputy editor of parents magazine and a pediatrician and chief medical officer . they teamed up to launch every child a chance wac sesz to healthcare can impact children's readiness to learn.

>> good morning.

>> we'll go by age group and start with elementary school and a hearing test is so important.

>> babies get tested for hearing in the hospital but they can develop hearing problems at any time. obviously if a child can't hear what the teacher is saying, it's not going to be easy to keep nup class.

>> even more so after a summer in water.

>> sure.

>> they get more ear infections.

>> absolutely.

>> and allergies.

>> allergies can be a health barrier to learning for kids too. if they're not feeling well or awake at night coughing with with allergies or asthma it can effect their ability to concentrate and focus and do well while at school.

>> are there certain allergies parents can be looking for in age groups with kids.

>> there's the respiratory or seasonal allergies with pollen or pet or dust mites but also food allergies and peanut allergies . go see your doctor about it. there's a lot of testing we can do and different therapies to make sure that your child is feeling well so they can focused.

>> i was surprised to read that 25% of school aged kids suffer from vision problems. that's a huge number.

>> only a third of kids get their eyes checked before school starts. and kids don't necessarily realize that they can't see normally because that's all they know. you need to sort of be aware of your child squinting when it's not bright or they're holding a book close to their face or they have headaches. especially if the teacher says they don't seem to be paying attention in class. kids with vision problems are misdiagnosed with learning problems. so it's important.

>> at children's health fund we take care of chids all across the country and we're identifying kids that have gone years without realizing they have a vision problem and need classes and what diane said is the most important point. most kids don't know. so don't wait until they're squinting or you notice symptoms.

>> okay. we'll watch this way. middle school here, diet is a big one at this age.

>> this is the time when kids are buying their own lunch and making their own dinner so they're probably not choosing the most nutritious foods. and weight problems can start at this age and certainly health issue are related to obesity but learn as good effected when kids are not having their brain fuelled by good nutrition.

>> and protein.

>> protein.

>> and i think that's the most important point. that healthy weight is important but you can be obese or at a healthy weight but still malnourished. it's important that they're get a good variety of vitamins and minerals and if you're unsure bring it up at the next health visit.

>> this is a lot of controversy. what vaccines.

>> they keep a child healthy and community healthy but there's several that middle schoolers need. one that's really important for health at school time tetnas and pertussis. it causes a severe cough.

>> talk about it. if you can have an open and engaged relationship your child , that's the first step. but if you're concerned at all, bring it up at your providers visit.

>> i think pediatricians also can be a good person to talk to for this kids if they don't want to talk to their parents.

>> absolutely.

>> encourage that relationship.

>> what's behind you, high school .

>> this is where i leave.

>> this is where it gets serious.

>> sex ed , drugs and alcohol.

>> no denying the fact that kids in high school and college are involved with alcohol and drugs and sex and the key is to give them the information and the resources they need to be safe and share your values about these topics with them, even from younger ages but let them know that you are there for them if they ever need to talk to you or have a question or need help.

>> and again providing somebody else for them to talk to.

>> and developing that relationship through the time with the child , we can help be that safety net to maybe be able to talk about some of those things with children that maybe they're not comfortable bringing up with you.