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Back-to-School Health Checklist

Experts say how to keep your child on the right track to health this school year.
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Can Your Child See Clearly? continued...

Gallin says she as a parent demands screening by an eye specialist. "All parents should," she says. Yet, she explains, often parents tell her, "My kid would tell me if he couldn't see." She says often this is untrue. They don't know any differently and kids with one eye not functioning will even try to fake out the doctor on the eye test, peeking around the eye blocker. "We have all been faked out," Gallin sighs.

If one eye is not working properly, what can be done to treat lazy eyes? "It's a real pain to fix," she admits. Children have to wear a patch over the strong eye. "They hate it," she says. Some improvement comes quickly but treatment takes time. The eye-patch system, however, makes the brain tune up to process visual input better. "The child achieves peripheral vision, too," she says.

Between 2% and 5% of the population is legally blind in one eye, according to Gallin. "It's a national health issue, but no one is listening."

At her schools in California, Mac Donald says, an optometrist comes in to test the kids.

Other Advice

Some important information parents should tell the school about their child includes:

  • Above all, make sure your child's emergency telephone number card is accurate and kept current. "You can't just drop the kid off at school and drive away," Mac Donald says. If you move or change a number, correct it the next day. At her schools, numbers are listed in order they are to be called: mother, father, grandmother, or whatever the parents designate. The child's physician and dentist also need to be listed. "I have had to take a kid with a knocked-out tooth to the dentist and have the mother meet me there," she says. "We needed all the phone numbers."
  • The school nurse and/or school secretary also needs to know what medications your child takes, Mac Donald says. Even if the child takes the medication only at home, the nurse should know. If the child is to take the drugs at school, she says, they must be in the pharmacy bottle, clearly marked (not an envelope, for instance).
  • Any health problems should be made known to the school. Allergies are a good example. "There are so many [allergies] now to foods, plants, trees, beestings, or latex. The school has to know in advance," Mac Donald says.
  • Also inform the school of physical restrictions. Does the child have asthma, a scoliosis brace, or a heart murmur? How should this affect physical activity?

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