The cancellation of “critical” public health check-ups for young babies is “hugely concerning” 1 month ago

The cancellation of “critical” public health check-ups for young babies is “hugely concerning”

Has this happened to your baby?

Due to unprecedented staff shortages within the HSE, routine developmental assessments on babies in certain areas are running way behind, with some children making it well into toddlerhood before being seen by a health professional.

Speaking on Newstalk's The Hard Shoulder earlier this week, broadcaster Rebecca Horan said the cancellation of “critical” public health check-ups for young babies is “hugely concerning” for young parents.

Horan said that her own baby is now 10 months old, and is yet to be seen by an HSE public health nurse.

These developmental health checks are normally carried out by public health nurses at a number of stages in a baby’s life – three months, nine to 11 months, 18 to 24 months and three years – and are considered crucial check-ups for children as they can be instrumental in uncovering underlying developmental problems at an early stage.

“The check-ups that I did want to get done […] I actually paid for in our local doctor’s surgery because I was concerned,” Horan told The Hard Shoulder.

“I have another child and she would have been seen a number of times, so it is actually hugely concerning."

She added:

“It seems to be an issue in this country to have a forgotten generation of children, especially with this kind of COVID excuse. It’s happening again now, and I just think it is a disgrace. A number of parents I have spoken to have concerns about developmental checks, hitting milestones, their child maybe being on the autism spectrum or dyspraxia – so it is really a minefield and it’s very concerning.”

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'Read up on your child's development yourself'

Ms Horan said the HSE told her to get in contact if she had specific concerns about her child’s health, but otherwise she could read up on her child’s development herself.

“You can get on the HSE, you can push, you can ask this and that – but they refer you back to a book,” she said.

“A textbook that I think has been published to keep people out of these services and to get them to refer to this massive book.

“What if you haven’t a notion? I mean none of us are experts; we might think we’re all experts as parents, but we’re absolutely not. None of us know exactly what’s going on so referring to a book is not going to help us if we’re completely lost when it comes to developmental issues.

“You’re talking about audiology, hitting milestones, crawling, issues with hips. I have a friend whose child had a club foot; she never knew why her child wasn’t attempting to walk, it was discovered too late and she had to pay for a paediatrician.

“It’s insane I don’t understand it at all.”

"Absolutely critical"

Dr Susan Kent, Associate Professor of Nursing, Midwifery and Community and Public Health at DCU was also speaking on the show, and said the first two checks, in particular, are “absolutely critical” for young children.

“One of the biggest checks that is done at three and nine months is the hip check for the child to ensure there is no hip dysplasia which could end up in the child having issues with their mobility and walking,” Kent said.

“That usually requires some form of orthopaedic intervention."

She added:

“They are critical checks that are done at three and nine months for a baby, but it goes into bigger checks in relation to looking at the child’s communication and their speech, their comprehension, their mobility sleeping and their emotional and social screening.”