How many well-baby visits are necessary in the first 2 years of life?
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Since we could find no scientific basis for the 10 well-baby visits recommended in the first 2 years of life in Ontario, we carried out a randomized trial in 570 healthy, low-risk newborns to determine the efficacy and safety of decreasing the number of scheduled well-baby visits from 10 to 5. Among the 466 babies still in the trial at the end of the study period those in the 10-visit group had had a mean of 7.63 scheduled and 0.26 unscheduled well-baby visits and those in the 5-visit group a mean of 4.77 scheduled and 1.42 unscheduled well-baby visits. Reducing the recommended number of visits did not result in an increased incidence of illness or an increased prevalence of undetected abnormality, and the physical development of the babies in the two groups was almost identical. The mean scores of the two groups in assessments of mental development, maternal-child relations, maternal anxiety and parental satisfaction with health care were close. The results suggest that the recommended number of well-baby visits for healthy, low-risk newborns can be reduced to five for children of multiparas and six for children of primiparas. Any additional well-baby visits should be scheduled according to the needs and experience of the parents.