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Children's Health

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Pediatric Preparation for Medical Tests - Preparing Your Child for a Medical Test

Medical tests can be scary for adults and for children. You can help your child feel safe and calm during medical tests if you understand why your child is having the test and remain calm yourself.

Talk to your doctor without your child present about any concerns you have about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of the test for your child, complete the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

Try to schedule the test or exam for a time when your child won't be tired or hungry. Tell your child as much or as little about the test that he or she is old enough to understand. And always be honest. For instance, don't promise something that may or may not be true, such as saying that the test won't hurt. Instead, you could say "I'll be nearby."

Ask your doctor about any medicines that your child may have before the test to reduce his or her discomfort, such as EMLA cream to numb the skin before a needle stick. At the time of the test or exam, your child may not want to cooperate with the doctor, and you may need to hold your child still so the test can be done. Don't scold your child for being afraid or for fighting or crying about being held still. If you act scared or upset, or if it becomes too difficult for you to hold your child, your doctor may ask you to leave the room and then have an assistant hold your child during the test. Do your best to comfort your child after the test is done.

Some common tests that your child may need include:

If your child is getting a test in a hospital, you may be able to ask for help from a child life expert, a pediatric psychologist, or a similar professional. This person can give you advice on how to help your child cope with procedures.

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