A collection of articles edited by Pittard (Pediatrics/Univ. of South Carolina) makes the case for a standardized set of well-child visits in infancy and the preschool years.
Americans tend to associate well-baby visits with shots, but good care in infancy and early childhood requires more, this book wisely argues. Immunizations should be just one tine of a three-pronged approach that also includes screenings for early signs of problems and parental education and counseling, Pittard and the four other contributors say. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children have a fixed number of well-child visits, known as Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment, that follow a certain frequency: six visits in Year 1, three visits in Year 2, two in Year 3, and one visit annually thereafter. Unfortunately, many families don’t meet these goals because of high copayments for private health plans, barriers to access for government-sponsored Medicaid programs, or other factors. This can result in larger problems and higher costs later on. While scholarly enough to daunt some readers who lack a medical background, this book makes a fascinating case for more consistent care. It notes, for example, that insufficient well-child care can lead to more visits to emergency rooms for conditions typically treated in doctors’ offices, such as asthma and ear, nose and throat infections. A chapter that explores how Medicaid has incorporated well-child care casts an intriguing light on the way that laws are shaping delivery of these services. The primary audience for this book may be professionals in health care and related fields, but its message might also interest parents who are looking for more complex information about children’s medical needs than they can find in the popular What to Expect series and similar books.
A convincing argument for well-child care in early childhood.