Pediatricians encourage regular checkups during pandemic

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SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Pediatricians’ offices are not as busy as they normally would be because of coronavirus. Doctors say that could lead to problems.

“We see children aren’t coming as often for well checks,” said Dr. Aqil Surka, a pediatrician in Spartanburg. “I think there’s a little bit of fear out there, which is understandable. We are in a different time right now.”

Surka told 7News there has been a noticeable decrease in patients since the coronavirus outbreak began. A lower number of well checks could be problematic because children receive immunizations on a schedule; missing appointments could mess up that schedule.

“If children aren’t getting the vaccines they need, we risk seeing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illness,” Surka said.

However, regularly scheduled visits to the pediatrician’s office is important for issues beyond shots.

For younger children, well checks can serve as a net to catch early signs of health problems, like asthma or diabetes. They can also screen for developmental problems like language or motor delays.

Surka said the checkups may be as important now as ever before: Mental health among children — especially teenagers — could take a hit from circumstances caused by the pandemic.

“We’re getting kids who are missing their end-of-year stuff,” he said. “Older kids are missing prom, missing graduation. Their whole world has been blown up.”

Surka recommends parents bring children in for scheduled visits if they are able. Offices are going above and beyond to make sure spaces are clean and safe for patients and staff, he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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