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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Health Advocates Call for Back-to-School Checkups for Kids

Woman African American doctor general practitioner examining child
Nemanja Mandic/lordn - stock.adobe.com
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An estimated one in five families skipped preventive checkups during the pandemic, so health experts encourage families to get back on track.

As summer draws to a close, experts are reminding parents not to overlook health screenings for kids. Back-to-school time brings a lot of additions to the family schedule, and Missouri parents need to consider medical and dental checkups, too.

Steve Douglas, director of marketing and public relations for ACCESS Family Care of Southwest Missouri, said a back-to-school eye exam or hearing check often finds things parents don't know about.

"Maybe you find some chronic health condition that some family wasn't aware of, or maybe you find out something with their vision is a problem," he said, "just a general overview of things where it's always good to have a checkup with a qualified medical provider."

Douglas said undiagnosed vision problems in kids are among the most common issues health providers find during routine screenings.

Health experts also want parents to pay attention to oral hygiene, to have kids brush their teeth twice a day and take them for regular dental checkups.

Dr. Donna O'Shea, national chief medical officer for population health at UnitedHealthcare, said some preventable problems are all too common.

"Tooth decay is largely preventable, but unfortunately it ranks as the most common chronic disease among children," she said. "In fact, by age five, nearly 50% of children have at least one cavity."

Getting back to routines also includes things not done during the pandemic, with many parents having skipped kids' preventive-care visits during that time. O'Shea pointed out that hearing tests are especially important for younger children.

"Like vision and dental, early detection of hearing issues is crucial for getting treatment as soon as possible," she said, "and that's really important because hearing loss can affect a child's ability to develop speech, language and social skills."

State resources and information about care providers are online at health.mo.gov.

Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Brett brings 7 years of radio news writing experience at Metro Source. His reporting expertise is in monetary policy, economic systems, resource distribution, rent-seeking, and neo-feudalism.