Health Disparities in Indian Country
Monday, February 09 2009
Written by Dr. Lydia Caros/Native American Community Clinic,
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Your child’s health - so much more than just shots
Is your child healthy? If your child has not had a full “well child” exam recently, then you don’t really know. Getting your child examined is much more than weighing in and getting shots. When your child sees a medical provider, it should be for an evaluation of all the things that affect your child’s health.

The health of a child is affected by their physical, emotional, and spiritual surroundings. Health is impacted by the affection and love they receive from caregivers, stresses in the family, their ability to make friends, and sense of self esteem. The foods they eat, amount of sleep they get, and amount of regular exercise they have makes a big difference in their overall physical and mental health.

Children that are not healthy have trouble learning, and often have trouble in school. A healthy child learns better, acts better, and is happier with life. A healthy child can connect better with cultural and spiritual traditions.

Emergency Room
Have your child checked regularly at your medical provider’s clinic. If your child is getting sick, go to the clinic as soon as you can so you can avoid a more complicated illness. Do not use the emergency room for your clinic. Call your clinic or insurance on-call number during the night and find out if you need to have your child seen immediately or if it can wait until morning.

Your clinic should have some way to fit in sick children within a day. Talk to your doctor about this. The ER is a waste of your time if the problem can be handled in the clinic. Don’t let lack of insurance keep you from getting health care. The local community clinics are happy to see your child whether you have insurance or not.

School Problems
If your child is already having trouble in school, they may have a learning problem and/or an attention problem. Talk to your medical provider about getting an evaluation to see what the issue is. It may be treatable and/or services may be available to help. Don’t assume your child is just a behavior problem unless other issues have been looked into.

Diet, Exercise and Positive Activities
Snacking frequently on pop, Cheetos and chips is harmful for your child’s health and a bad habit for healthy living. Children need to be taught to eat more fruits and vegetables and to stay away from the “junk”.
Kids who only play video games and watch TV will not have healthy bodies or minds. Kids need to be active and moving, and they need to be interacting with other kids in positive activities.
Making things, working on a project with others, creating art, music, being on a team, growing a garden, and dancing at powwows, are all examples of healthy activities for kids.

Emotional Health
Even young children can be depressed and anxious. This can affect their success at school as well as their behavior. Ask your provider about counseling for your child. Young children can receive play therapy and work though problems. Waiting too long to get help for an emotional problem could result in bigger, more dangerous problems with emotional health and behavior.
Visiting with a traditional healer for advice and direction is another important resource to help guide a child in connecting with his or her spiritual traditions.

Be sure you bring your child in to see their medical provider regularly. It’s much more than just shots.

• Need physical exams at 2, 4, 6, 9
and 12 months
• Growth issues- length, weight, head size
• Development- motor skills, coordination,
social skills, language
• Ear infections, reactive airway disease,
• Formula intolerance, reflux   
• Anemia- iron deficiency

• Need physical exams at 15, 18 and
24 months
• More of the issues looked at during
infancy, but more focus on:
– Speech and language development,
– Behavior issues
– Sleep issues
– Lead poisoning prevention and
School age
• Yearly exams are needed
• Blood pressure
• Urine screening
• Language and motor development
• Learning issues
• Fine motor skills
• Social skills
• Emotional development
• Attention skills

• Yearly exams are needed
• Height and weight
• Diabetes screening
• Blood pressure
• Sexually transmitted disease prevention
• Pregnancy prevention
• Learning and attention issues
• Emotional development/assessment
• Sports assessment

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