Don’t skip your doctor visits

With the risk of the extremely contagious coronavirus, many parents have been avoiding taking their children to playgrounds, libraries, and other public places. But they’ve also been skipping visits to the pediatrician, and that has doctors worried.

Officials with the American Academy of Pediatrics say that the number of children seeing their pediatricians regularly is only about 20 or 30 percent of what it would normally be this time.

In some cases, parents are taking advantage of telemedicine to arrange virtual doctor visits for their children, but that doesn’t account for most of the steep drop in office appointments, the group said.

Skipping regular doctor visits means that children miss necessary vaccinations for other dangerous diseases, such as measles or meningitis. And doctors also worry that without regular visits they may miss signs of other illnesses or medical conditions that can be spotted during well checks.

And, doctors say, the conditions created by the pandemic — including stress and anxiety — can make it even more important for children to get a checkup from their pediatrician.

Doctors say that parents are anxious about bringing small children into offices where they might be exposed to the coronavirus. To manage the risk, physicians have been taking extra precautions, deep cleaning and disinfecting their offices and arranging for drive-through clinics to reduce contact.

The risks associated with an entire generation falling behind on its vaccinations also are concerning, pediatricians have said. Already, vaccination rates in the United States have been slipping in recent years, which many doctors attribute to anti-vaccination myths.

It is particularly important for children to receive the measles vaccinations they need as that disease is making a comeback. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded nearly 1,300 measles cases, which was the highest number of cases in 25 years. Most of the cases were among people who had not been vaccinated.

Concerns over coronavirus contagion are real, but the disease is not the only threat to children’s health. Parents should take precautions, but also make sure their children keep up with regular checkups to stay healthy.

— Toledo Blade, May 11; Online: