Some new data published in the American Journal of Managed Care finds increased value in preventative well baby and toddler check-ups. Not because it keeps pediatricians busy, but really because it potentially can save suffering and hospitalizations for young children that would otherwise hopefully not occur.

A study published this month evaluated over 20,000 babies and toddlers in the Group Health network. They reviewed medical charts to study both rates of hospitalizations and rates that families showed up for their well baby check-ups. They specifically evaluated rates of hospitalizations for what they call, “ambulatory-care sensitive hospitalizations,” in which access to routine care could potentially avoid an illness developing that would require a child to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. Here’s more and how you can find low cost medical or dental clinics for yourself or your child and get help applying for health insurance:

Group Health Study

  • Over 20,000 2 month-old babies up to 3 ½ year-old toddlers.
  • >10% children had a chronic disease diagnosis in the chart (most commonly something like asthma, congenital heart disease, chronic anemia, or failure to thrive).
  • 4% of children were hospitalized under age 3 1/2 years. It’s known that children under age 5 years of age have a higher risk of being hospitalized compared to school-age and older children so this age group was targeted specifically because of their risk.
  • Children who missed more than 1/2 of their routine visits had double the risk of being hospitalized for illness like asthma, pneumonia, urinary tract infections–infections and conditions that could potentially have been avoided with improved care in clinic.
  • Children with underlying chronic health conditions who missed routine well baby visits had triple the risk of being hospitalized.

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Within Reach And What You Need To Know:

Well and preventative care is a chance to check up on shots, review growth, look at weight gain, review sleep, school, nutrition and organize care around chronic health conditions. It’s also a time to review ways that you can prevent illness and injury in children and potentially avoid a hospitalization.

If you don’t have insurance or are unsure how to get your child the health care they need, consider calling Within Reach for help. Within Reach is an organization that can help support you to obtain health care for yourself or your child. They’ll help you navigate your options, help you apply for medicaid and/or help you locate low-cost medical and dental clinics in the state. Call the helpline number for more information and assistance.

Also, quick information (video) on your baby’s first check-up with tips on things you’ll need to ask and an easy-to-read immunization schedule.