ST. LOUIS. Aug. 11 Many children and teens are enjoying the remaining days of their summer vacation, but are they truly prepared for what lies ahead? Don't fret, with a few simple medical exams, Missouri's school-age children will be armed with the tools they need to have a more healthy school year. The exams we are referring to are given in a doctor's and/or dentist's office, and should take place before or shortly after the start of the new school year, and include a routine doctor's exam to confirm that all immunizations are up-to-date, a dental exam and a vision exam.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri is reinforcing the importance of parents talking with their child's pediatrician about the specific examinations their child should receive. This helps ensure that Missouri's youth population receives the care it needs and deserves. "As parents prepare their children and teenagers for the transition back to school, they need to make sure each child gets the recommended immunizations, along with an eye exam and dental cleaning," said Wayne Meyer, M.D., medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are many recommended vaccines for children and teens, including influenza, which should be given to all school-age children from six months to 18 years. Other immunizations include:
For the 2010-2011 flu season, which begins in the fall of 2010, the seasonal flu vaccine will include protection against the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. All children through age 18 should be immunized. Younger children who have never had a seasonal vaccine will need two doses. Additional information about the flu is available at flu.gov and cdc.gov.
According to the 2010 WellPoint State Health Care Ranking, 69 percent of Missouri's children aged 19 to 35 months were immunized from mid-2008 to mid-2009 compared to the national average of 73 percent.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures, 3rd Edition, school age children should be evaluated for visual difficulties at their annual visit and formally screened according to the AAP's recommended schedule.
In addition, the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently reported that one-in-four children in kindergarten through sixth grade has a vision problem. Some studies indicate that 80 percent of learning in children occurs visually; therefore, getting regular routine eye exams should be a major part of the back to school preparation. Undiagnosed vision problems can lead to difficulty with schoolwork, resulting in poor performance.
According to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2009 American Eye-Q® survey, 60 percent of children identified as "problem learners" actually suffer from undetected vision problems and in some cases have been inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"Having healthy eyes and clear vision can make all the difference in how a child learns and/or performs in class," said Dr. Meyer. "Poor vision can result in lower grades and ultimately lower self esteem."
Interestingly, many parents do make sure their child is current on their immunizations and vision exams; but, a visit to the dentist is oftentimes an afterthought. However, when children and teens get routine dental exams, many problems or issues can be caught early and possibly corrected.
The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggest parents take their child to a dentist as soon as the first tooth appears, or at least by his or her first birthday. And then start a regular routine of visiting the dentist for a dental exam in a schedule recommended by the dentist.
According to the CDC, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year nationwide because of dental-related illness, and more than half of children aged five to nine have had at least one cavity or filling, with 78 percent of 17-year-olds having experienced tooth decay.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri provides coverage for most vaccines and exams. However, policyholders should confirm their specific benefits by calling the toll-free number listed on their insurance card.
"We encourage our members to make sure their children start the school year off on the right foot health-wise by getting the recommended immunizations, and having their eyes and teeth examined," said Dr. Meyer. "These simple exams are essential for keeping children and teens healthy, letting them focus on other events and activities during the school year."
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri
In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name for RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri is available at www.anthem.com
-- The meningococcal vaccine, which is recommended for those who are age 11-12 and at age 13-18 if not previously vaccinated.
SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri