A children's physical exam is a general health and wellness check performed by a child's pediatrician. Physical exams are usually performed at a time when the child isn't ill. The goal of the physical exam is to do a whole body examination in addition to monitoring any ongoing issues. Physical exams are also an excellent opportunity to prevent illness, as the pediatrician may observe emerging issues that can be treated early during the exam. The child's growth is checked during a physical exam, including height, weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI). Both the child's personal medical history and family medical history are reviewed during a physical exam. Blood pressure is checked, hearing is tested, and a basic vision test is performed. Some health screenings may also be done during a child's physical exam, for example high cholesterol screening for a child who's at risk for this condition.
Yes, a physical exam can include immunizations if they're needed. Some of the immunizations that the pediatricians at Guardian Angels Health Center often administer include tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (the Tdap combination vaccine), flu, Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV), Meningococcal Vaccine, and others as needed.
The pediatrician asks the parents (or the child, if they're old enough) a series of questions to gain a clear picture of their overall health and wellness. This includes questions about eating habits, sleep habits, exercise routines, personal hygiene, and behavior at school and at home. If children want to do so, they'll have the opportunity to ask the pediatrician questions about health, growth, changes in their body, or anything else they're concerned about.
Physical exam frequency is based on the child's age and state of health. For healthy children, the first visit should happen when an infant is just 2-5 days old. Visits are then monthly until the baby is 4 months old. The physical exams are then scheduled at 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months (2 years,) 30 months (2.5 years,) and 3 years old. After that, children should see the pediatrician at least once each year until they are an adult.