Standard check-ups for children and teenagers
Children regularly have standard check-ups to help ensure that diseases and developmental disorders are identified at an early stage. The doctor may also recommend therapy or treatment if necessary. As regards the specific tests and examinations and the health insurer coverage, this information describes the situation in Germany. Other countries may have similar procedures and coverage.
At each check-up, the child is measured and weighed, and the doctor gives them a thorough physical examination. Some of the check-ups include eye and hearing tests. The child’s parents are also asked whether they’ve noticed anything unusual or whether there are any problems at home. In addition, the doctor always checks how the child and the parents interact.
Where the first two standard check-ups take place depends on where the child was born. They are typically done at the hospital. You need to make appointments with a pediatrician or your family doctor for the remaining check-ups. The first one (U1) can also be performed by a midwife.
Depending on how old the child is, these check-ups include advice on subjects such as:
- breastfeeding and diet,
- preventing accidents and sudden infant death syndrome (“cot death”),
- vitamin D (to prevent bone disease),
- fluoride (to prevent tooth decay), dental hygiene and dental check-ups,
- mental health and language development, and
- media consumption.
Equally importantly, each check-up is an opportunity to ask for advice and to get information on local services such as parent-child classes, advice centers and “family midwifes” (who provide support for the baby, mother and family through pregnancy and the child’s first year at home).
The check-up results are recorded in a special booklet, referred to as the gelbe Heft or “yellow booklet” because of its color. Most health insurers also cover the costs of two additional examinations (U10 and U11) and provide separate booklets for them.
If your child gets anxious about the check-ups, you can prepare them for what will happen and try to stop them from feeling frightened. For example, you can explain what tests will be done or find fun ways of preparing, like trying out headphones if there’s going to be a hearing test.