BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Pediatrician Dr. Jerry Bristol sees a lot of children at his Biloxi clinic. Many of them just come in for routine check-ups. Dr. Bristol believes these "well-baby" visits are critical, especially in the first two years of life because they coincide with an immunization schedule. They also ensure that all those billions of neurons a child is born with are connecting properly in the brain.
"And if you wait until the kids are five years old and going to kindergarten, you're behind the curve," explains Dr. Bristol. "And if you can get a lot of that stimulation and learning going on the first few years, I think that's just a critical time, a critical time for kids."
Though a lot of parents are great about bringing their babies in to see a doctor the first two years, Dr. Bristol says many don't come back until their child is sick.
"Once you get past fifteen to eighteen months, the next immunizations aren't until about five years of age. And so parents do tend to forget the need to come back in. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine at least annual health screenings for those kids in those years."
And that's because children from birth to age five are developing at a phenomenal pace. Doctors agree, early childhood stimulation can really give kids that extra boost they need to get ahead in life.
"We still need to look at so many other areas other than just immunizations," says Dr. Bristol. "We have safety things that we need to talk about at different ages. We have nutritional concerns that we need to address. We need to make sure that the kids are growing appropriately."
Dr. Bristol will be among dozens of health care professionals taking part in a children's health fair Saturday, September 18th.
Ready... Set... Go!
Free Children's Health Fair
9a.m. - 1p.m.
Michel 6th Grade
Father Ryan Ave., Biloxi
"Ready... Set... Go!" is sponsored by the Biloxi Excel by 5 coalition. It's free, and open to all children from birth to age five. Parents can take advantage of a number of free health screenings and other activities to promote their child's health and development.
For more information, please contact Emily Burke at (228) 436-1644.