HOUSTON – You are staying home with your kids and limiting trips, but what about scheduled well checks and other doctors’ appointments? For most families, regular doctor check-ups are on the schedule months in advance. But what about now? And - should your child be wearing a mask?
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about doctor visits for your kids, so we asked Texas Children’s Hospital for answers.
What should I do about scheduled doctor’s visits?
“For well checks, the AAP recommends trying to get your well checks done at least through the age of two. Actually, Texas Children’s Pediatrics we are seeing children up to the age of four for well checks,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care.
For older kids, it’s OK to delay vaccines and reschedule those appointments for later. Doctors are doing tele-visits for chronic conditions like ADHD, Asthma, Diabetes and other behavioral issues.
There are some things kids may need to see the doctor in person.
"Injuries where we have to physically examine them to understand what is going on, whether it's lacerations or burns," said Dr. Spinner. "Other things where we need to be able to listen to the child's breathing, see the child's ears - things like that. Things that we really can't conduct through a telemedicine visit or a phone visit."
You may want to consider the risk involved in bringing your child to the doctor's office.
“Certainly, some of the children that are quite vulnerable, we really want to minimize their exposure,” explains Dr. Spinner. “As much as we are trying to not have children in our waiting room, we are getting them into rooms immediately, there is still a possibility of an exposure when you are traveling out of your house to various areas to get to our offices.”
Should kids be wearing masks?
Now that the CDC recommends we wear masks when we go outside, what about kids?
"Children under the age of two should not be wearing those types of masks," said Dr. Spinner. "If they are tight enough to prevent some of the air droplets from coming out of their mouth, they may be too tight for them, and they may not be able to breathe properly."
For older kids, you could consider having them wear a mask when leaving the house. However, doctors agree the best bet is to stay home. It would be difficult for a child to understand that they can’t touch the front part of the face mask at all while wearing it. But, if you really need to leave the house, put a mask on the older kids and maybe have them practice not touching the front.
What about playdates if we stay 6 feet apart?
We've had a few questions from people wondering if it is OK to have a playdate with a friend as long as they stay 6 feet apart from each other. Dr. Spinner believes it would be hard to make sure they keep their distance.
"We talk about social distancing, keeping six feet apart, but that's not a perfect solution," he said. "The bottom line is, really not to do that. Getting people together in a relatively close environment is just adding to the risk, and our goal is to flatten this curve as quickly as we can. Playdates can be virtual. You know, we've done that with our grandkids and with our children."
For now, the data shows that children make up about 20% of the population, and less than 2% of the positive cases are children. While they may not be getting sick, they could pass along the virus to others. Patience is crucial, and for now, staying home is your best bet. We are already seeing that social distancing is saving lives in our area. So, let’s keep it up!