Keep kids' health in mind during back-to-school season

INDIANAPOLIS - Students heading back to school means back-to-school health checks. It also means it's time for families to make some important adjustments to their routines.

"Immunizations are required for kids going into kindergarten or sixth grade, but there are other back to school health tips all parents should know," St. Vincent pediatrician Dr. Brian Aguilar said.

Before they head back to the classroom, Aguilar says kids should head to their pediatrician's office. 

"They should schedule their health maintenance visit,” Aguilar said. “It's important to see their pediatricians. who promote optimal growth, nutrition and physical health in children."

This visit is usually just a general health check-up. Some extra checks may be required for certain sports.

Another necessary check? A child's backpack.

The American Occupational Therapy Association says of the 79 million students who carry backpacks, 55 percent are too heavy.

Also, 64 percent of students ages 11 to 15 overload their packs.

"A good bag would be a bag with multiple compartments in it, that way you can distribute the weight better,” Indiana Spine Group surgeon Dr. Justin Miller said. “And it should be about shoulder height, it shouldn't be above the shoulders. It should be above the waist at the small of the back. That would be a good position."

And now that summer break is almost over, it's time to end some of those bad habits parents may have let children slip into while they've been out of school – habits like going to bed late and eating more junk food.

"Ease back into a nighttime or bedtime routine,” Aguilar said. “Make sure that they get at least eight hours of sleep. And also make breakfast a part of your morning routine. It's important for kids to have a healthy breakfast."

Doing these things now will help make the start of school less jarring when that first bell rings.

And while parents have children in the doctor's office, it's a good time to ask about any concerns you may have, including concerns about bullying or sports injuries.

Pediatricians will have kids’ immunization schedule and records, and schools will be able to tell parents exactly what's required for a child’s particular grade.

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