General Health & Wellness • Aug 29, 2017

Annual Physicals: Drugstore Chain or Pediatrician’s Office? Where You Go Matters!

Summer for kids means swimming and staying up late.  Summer at a pediatrician’s office means lots of yearly check-ups and pre-participation physicals (also known as sports physicals).  A physical is recommended yearly for all kids over the age of three and more frequently for children under three.  The state of Missouri also mandates that all high school athletes have an annual physical done after February 1st so summer is a natural time to have that done.  The urgent care down the street, the retail-based clinic at your local pharmacy and even chiropractors are advertising that they can do them – so why not just go there?

The quality is not the same.  A physical is not just a signature on a form.  It may be the only time that year that your child sees a physician.  A yearly physical with your pediatrician typically includes:

-Update of any immunizations that may be due.  The “kindergarten shots” of Dtap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella vaccines are given between 4-6 years of age and required prior to starting school.  Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) and meningococcal (meningitis) vaccines are required going into 8th grade and a second dose of the meningococcal vaccine is required going into 12th grade.

-Review of your child’s growth charts. Your pediatrician has the complete background and medical history of your child, which can determine if your child’s growth since the last year is appropriate. Poor growth can be the first sign of a chronic illness.

-Review of your child’s chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or migraines, and refill medications needed to treat those conditions.

-Evaluation of any abnormalities on exam or concerns that arise during the visit.

-Developmental and emotional screenings, as age-appropriate. This means ensuring your infant and preschooler are meeting milestones. In my office we also screen all teens for depression at their yearly visits.

-Discussion of health and safety topics that are important for all kids (sleep, limiting screen time, and a balanced diet to name a few).  Also, we provide a private and confidential environment for your teen to share any questions or concerns they may have.

A yearly physical with your pediatrician is an invaluable part of your child’s health care, both for their current health and for their future growth and development. Plan now to schedule!


For over 130 years, Children’s Hospital and its Washington University School of Medicine physician partners have remained a resource for pediatric health and wellness for the St. Louis region and beyond. They provide care in every pediatric specialty — from fetal care through adolescence. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Louis Children’s Hospital in all 10 specialties, the only children’s hospital in Missouri to earn this distinction. Their Level One Pediatric Trauma Center is nationally verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the highest national recognition possible. Call 314-454-KIDS (5437) to find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, or to register for a class or event. Learn more at, member BJC Healthcare.

Find more ways to keep your child healthy and safe, courtesy of St. Louis Children’s Hospital.