The Bright Futures Guidelines: Improving Children's Health


Baby and teddy bear photo

State governments provide health coverage for millions of children through their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). Providing cost-effective screening and treatment services saves states money and promotes healthy children.

Infant, children and adolescent health needs include well-child visits, vaccinations and developmental screenings.

Well-child visits offer an important opportunity for physicians to identify and treat problems earlier, yet only about 31 percent of children between 10 months and age 5 received recommended developmental screenings during these visits in 2011-2012. In 2013, 91 percent of insured children regularly saw their pediatrician, compared to 68 percent of uninsured children.

States have explored strategies to most effectively use these doctor-patient visits, which reach most children. Among the strategies, a program called Bright Futures offers a blueprint for physicians to follow as they administer key social, behavioral and developmental screenings. Detecting and preventing problems early can avert the need for later, more expensive treatment for identified conditions. Bright Futures also recognizes the critical role of families in promoting children’s health as partners in their care.

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