Canadian babies need a “booster” at 18 months
Nov 30 2011
OTTAWA—The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) is calling on all provinces and territories to implement an enhanced well-baby visit, recognizing the strong link between children’s earliest development and later health and well-being.
“There is tremendous potential for primary care providers to have a positive effect on child development in the early years, and a focus on the 18-month visit is a good place to start,” said Dr. Jean Clinton, one of the statement’s co-authors and member of the CPS Early Years Task Force.
In a new statement, published today in Paediatrics & Child Health, the CPS says primary care providers should use the 18-month visit to spot potential problems and to better equip families to promote healthy development.
“If we really want to enhance early development, we need to take this systematic approach with all families, not just those considered at increased risk of problems,” said Dr. Clinton, a child psychiatrist and professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
Currently, Ontario is the only province that has introduced an enhanced 18-month exam, which includes specific guidelines and a special fee code that recognizes the extra time needed for this kind of visit.
The CPS is calling for a publicly-fund enhanced 18-month visit for every Canadian child that includes:
- A standardized health supervision tool such as the Rourke Baby Record.
- The use of a developmental screening tool to stimulate discussion with parents about a child’s development and how they can support it.
- Screening for parental struggles with mental health, abuse, substance misuse and physical illness.
- The promotion of the importance of early literacy activities like reading, speaking and singing to babies.
- Information for parents about community-based early child development resources.
“The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is proud to support the new CPS guidelines for the 18-month enhanced well-baby visit,” says Dr. Sandy Buchman, President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. “We believe that they encourage greater contact between family physicians and the children and their families during these early years. It’s also timely to have this visit take place when many children begin day care programs and before starting school. The CFPC commends the CPS on their work and dedication on developing the new guidelines.”
To access the full statement, visit Getting it right at 18 months: In support of an enhanced well-baby visit.
About the Canadian Paediatric Society
The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.