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Pediatricians say all Canadian babies need a booster at 18 months

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Paediatric Society is calling on all provinces and territories to implement a publicly-funded enhanced well-baby visit for all Canadian babies.

The doctors' group says there's a strong link between children’s earliest development and later health and well-being.

In a new statement, published Wednesday in Paediatrics and Child Health, the groups says primary care providers should use the 18-month visit to spot potential problems and to better equip families to promote healthy development.

Statement co-author Dr. Jean Clinton, child psychiatrist and professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, says if early development is to be properly fostered, it should apply to all children, not just those considered to be at risk.

Currently, Ontario is the only province that has an enhanced 18-month exam, which includes specific guidelines and a special fee code that recognizes the extra time needed for the visit.

The group wants the enhanced 18-month visit to include the promotion of the importance of early literacy activities like reading to babies and the screening for parental struggles with mental health, abuse and substance misuse issues.

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