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What a child's health check-up involves
Tanya Munshi
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May 08, 2007

A routine check-up for a child -- from the age of one until around 20 -- includes a urine, stool, blood, dental and eye test. These being the most formative years, a parent has to be vigilant. Here's what you need to know:

Urine test

Dr Sailesh B Mehta, MBBS, a general physician in Mumbai, says, "Urine tests help detect any kind of infections, which can go unnoticed, as the child may not complain about symptoms such as a burning sensation or pain while passing urine."

Stool test

Such tests help detect any worms in your child's tummy. "Worms can cause poor absorption of food into your child's body," says Dr Mehta. "They can make your child dull and less active."

Blood test

A routine blood test is conducted to check your child's haemoglobin levels. The healthy level should be 11.5-15 gm per cent for a girl, and 14-18 gm per cent for a boy, which is the same for an adult female or male respectively. "Poor haemoglobin levels indicate anaemia, which causes a child to be dull, have a poor attention span, and even poor memory," says Dr Mehta.

Dr Sanjay V Desai, a clinical pathologist in Mumbai, adds, "For a child, a basic blood test would include Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Ergthrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). The ESR helps determine any kind of infection, such as a cough, cold or chest infections."

Dental check-up

An annual routine check-up to see if the teeth are properly aligned is a must, to make sure there are no cavities or infections that a child may not be able to tell you about. With children's preferences for chocolate and fast food, parents have to be extra-careful.

Eye check-up

One every six months to a year can help detect if the child has weak eyesight. Usually, the child may not tell his/ her parents that he/ she can't see properly, or has trouble reading or seeing distant objects. With early detection, poor eyesight can be corrected. It may also be a signal that your child is not eating properly, or has a vitamin A deficiency.

Thyroid test at birth

"A test increasing in popularity and awareness in India is the thyroid test for children at birth," says Dr. Mehta. It is very important because the body depends on the thyroid hormones for the proper development of a child's body and mind. Thyroid deficiency may go unnoticed in children until they reach the age of two or three. In case of such deficiency, a child's learning can be delayed, or development of the brain hampered.

If this deficiency is detected at birth, it can be corrected through treatment. Such tests are very prominent abroad where, the moment a child is born, cord blood (samples taken from the infant's umbilical cord) is used for haemoglobin and thyroid tests, so deficiencies can be corrected immediately.

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