Pediatrician Tabitha Wilson, M.D.

Parents gazing into the face of a baby often only see perfection. As the babies grow into toddlers, they can amaze and amuse their caregivers with their antics. But alongside all the cuteness, children’s development needs to be monitored to make sure they’re on track. “Well-child checkups are so important,” says pediatrician Tabitha Wilson, MD. “If a developmental issue is discovered, the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.”

Dr. Wilson recommends well checks starting at 3-5 days, and then regularly until the child is two years old. After that, annual checkups are important. “Every child is different. But the key is early intervention. If we can catch a speech difficulty when they’re age two, we can have it fixed before they even start school.” She added that the most common cause of language issues is hearing loss which parents may not be aware of, but that can be discovered by a doctor.

“We can check a child’s vision as early as age three,” said Dr. Wilson. “It seems young, but we can make a big difference if we find a problem early.” Along with hearing and vision, it’s important to keep an eye on dental health as well. “Babies should see a dentist as soon as they have their first tooth! Believe it or not, some preschoolers have dental issues.”

Most parents are aware of the need for immunizations along with developmental screenings. “Babies need some immunization during every visit for their first 18 months,” she said. “If the immunizations get off schedule, it is a problem. There needs to be a certain amount of time between doses to be effective. Some vaccines, like for Rota virus, can’t be given after eight months.”

Iowa has some of the highest lead levels of any state in the US. So Iowa Public Health recommends all children be tested for lead. “It’s a simple finger prick to get enough blood for a test. But if high lead levels are found, it can cause brain damage and lower the child’s IQ if not treated. So, here in Iowa, it’s important.”

Obesity is a nationwide problem, and increasingly children have high cholesterol and high lipid levels. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening children for high cholesterol. If it’s elevated, we start with diet and exercise changes before putting them on medication. Over the past year, kids have gained weight. They’re getting less exercise than normal due to Covid restrictions.”

It’s not just weight Dr. Wilson checks on. She makes sure that weight and growth are appropriate. Neither overweight nor underweight are healthy. “Kids should grow around two inches a year. The right balance is critical for brain development.”

“Parents may think their child is healthy and wonder why they should bring him to the doctor. But there are subtle things that I can see that parents don’t. It’s worth the small effort!”

Dr. Tabitha Wilson is available every Monday & Thursday. Call (641) 464-4470 to schedule an appointment at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic