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Ages & Stages

Health Screenings at School

In most schools, children in the middle years are routinely screened for a number of common physical conditions. Hearing and vision tests are two of the most frequent evaluations, important be­cause difficulties with these senses are often subtle, and neither parents, teachers, nor children may even recognize that a problem exists. While most difficulties with hearing or vision should have been identified prior to entering school, some may have been missed and others develop later. A child who has difficulty reading the blackboard may not know that she is seeing differently from any­one else. Nevertheless, even mild deficiencies of sight can signifi­cantly affect a child's ability to learn.

In some states these screening tests are mandated by law and may also include dental checks, scoliosis evaluations, blood pressure readings, and height and weight measurements. In school dis­tricts in which nurses are available for more thorough assessments, testing for tuberculosis and even physical exams may be con­ducted.

If the school notifies you that these screenings have turned up a potential problem in your child, have her checked by your pediatri­cian. In the meantime the school nurse should be able to tell you what the school's findings may mean, and whether there is any ur­gency in obtaining an evaluation by your doctor. In some cases you may be able to wait until your youngster's next well-child visit for a repeat screening or a more comprehensive evaluation.

Sometimes your youngster's pediatrician will find that the suspected abnormality is not serious after all. Even so, this does not mean that the screening was inaccurate. Screening tests are de­signed to identify children who may have a problem, but a more thorough examination by a doctor is always necessary to determine the extent and severity of the condition
Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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