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Immunizations might be the first thing that comes to mind for parents considering their child’s well visit at the pediatrician’s office. But another significant part of this important routine care is the doctor’s evaluation of your child’s physical health and development.

In this article, learn from Dr. Michael Weiss, a pediatrician and CHOC’s vice president of population health, about the importance of developmental screenings.

What to expect at a developmental screening

Your pediatrician is always looking at your child’s development but formal developmental screenings typically occur at the 9-, 18-, 24- and 30-month well-child visits or if the parent or provider has a concern. It’s also possible to undergo these screenings at a child care center, school or other community agency.

During a developmental screening, parents will be asked a series of questions about their child. It takes only a few minutes and answers are based on what you already know – so, there’s no need to prepare in advance.

These questions probe how your child is developing their communication, social and problem-solving skills, behavioral and emotional growth, and physical abilities.

Don’t be afraid to be honest when answering the development questions. Your straight-forward responses can help lead to earlier interventions for your child, if needed.

In some cases, parents might have concerns about their child but are unsure if this worry is related to individual differences, such as personality, or if it is related to gaps in their development. Formal screenings can help identify the source, and if developmental gaps are identified, the doctor can refer your child for additional care to address them.

So, what happens if intervention is needed?

Your child’s doctor is your teammate in your child’s health and development and is ready to help. If you or your pediatrician have any concerns about your child’s development, the doctor will work with you to get the needed support.

A typical intervention may include a referral to Help Me Grow, an organization that helps connect Orange County families with community resources such as speech therapy at your child’s school district or in the community.

What if I’ve missed a screening?

It’s OK if your child has missed a screening. Talk to your pediatrician. They can develop a schedule to catch up on the process.

You are your child’s best advocate! At your next well visit, please be sure to ask your pediatrician about your child’s development. This is an incredibly important part of their overall health and working with your health care team to assure they are developing normally is a shared responsibility.

Find a pediatrician near you.

We are excited to offer the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens. To receive a vaccine, contact your CHOC primary care pediatrician to make an appointment.

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