LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan High School Athletic Association requires student-athletes to have a sports physical before being eligible to play. This may lead parents to question whether or not their child still needs an annual wellness visit.

Henry Ford Health pediatrician Dr. Shoshana Gordon says the two types of appointments are not interchangeable, and both are crucial for a child’s health.

“Your child grows so much early in life that we need to see them several times before their first birthday,” says Dr. Gordon. “As they get older, the conversations at these appointments evolve and expand to include topics like mental health and what to expect from puberty.”

Sports physicals, while important for athletic participation, do not include these developmental screenings that are vital for monitoring a child’s overall health.

The annual wellness exam is also a key opportunity for immunization updates.