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Health & Parenting

Back-to-School Health Checkup

Here's a primer on exactly what your child needs to have a safe and healthy school year.
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Age 11-12 continued...

In addition, a combination booster for tetanus and diphtheria (Td) should be given if at least five years have passed since the last Td vaccine.

Although flu vaccines are not specifically recommended for this age group, any child at increased risk for complications from the flu, including those with asthma, sickle cell disease, HIV, diabetes, and heart disease, should receive an annual flu vaccine.

For more information on current vaccination schedules, guidelines, shortages, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the CDC's National Immunization Program web site or call the National Immunization Hotline at (800) 232-2522 (English) or (800) 232-0233 (Spanish).

Health Problems to Watch for:

Lice

Once a child is infected with lice, the tiny bugs can spread quickly to other children though close contact or sharing personal items such as hairbrushes, combs, scarves, and hats. Symptoms include itching, and tiny brown or white eggs called nits may be seen on shafts of hair (although you may need a magnifying glass to see them). If you suspect lice, you can try a nonprescription product to kill the lice or contact a health professional to confirm the diagnosis.

Lice do not usually cause any serious health problems. But contact a doctor if your child develops signs of a skin infection, such as fever, pain, swelling, or redness at the infestation site, or a discharge of pus.

Food Allergies

Although most school cafeterias have been instructed to avoid serving items that might cause a severe allergic reaction, there are still potential pitfalls at school that parents of children with food allergies should prepare for.

Food allergies are more common in children than in adults, although many will outgrow them. The most common foods that cause allergies in children are those with a high protein content, such as peanuts, milk, wheat, soy, and eggs.

If your child has food allergies, you should instruct him to avoid sharing food with classmates or friends at school, and at other events such as bake sales, class outings, or parties. Provide your child with his own food and snacks for field trips and other school-related events where they may encounter problem foods.

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