Back-To-School Checkups

Producer Susan Downey, right, and her husband, actor Robert Downey Jr., strike a pose at the premiere of "Orphan" in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 21, 2009. (
AP
Before children and young people around the country return to the classroom, there are some health checks that should be made. The Early Show Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports on the kinds of health screenings school children need.

When it comes to getting an education, the most important checkups a child needs are the routine eye and ear exams to screen for vision and hearing problems.

A child who has a problem reading or listening can run into problems very quickly in the classroom, and fall behind in educational, and even social, development. Your doctor or the school nurse should be checking for these problems, some of which may not be noticeable without a test.

Should kids get a physical checkup before starting school?

It's a good idea to get what's known as a sports' physical if your child is going to participate in physical education classes. The physical will not only check that your child is in good shape when it comes to blood pressure and heart rate and lung function, but it's a good first step in spotting more serious underlying problems like diabetes or scoliosis.

What about vaccinations for kids as they get older?

It's very important to keep up-to-date with vaccinations. It may seem obvious, but there are a number of important shots that every infant needs before kindergarten for highly infectious diseases like measles and polio, for example.

Most states require them by law because these diseases can spread quickly through a classroom if kids are not vaccinated. Many require multiple shots and boosters. It can be hard to keep track of them all, so it's crucial to keep in touch with your pediatrician, especially as the child grows up into a teen-ager.

Are there shots you need to get as a young adult?

There is another important vaccination for bacterial meningitis that college-age students may want to consider before they start dorm life. The disease causes an inflammation of the brain that can result in brain damage or death, and young people who live in close quarters like dorms are nearly six times more likely to get it.