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50 Percent of Children Aged 2 to 5 Years Fear Doctor Visits

Parents say most common worry is fear of getting a shot; some children also have stranger anxiety

child checkup

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Half of parents report that their children aged 2 to 5 years are afraid of going to the doctor, according to survey results published in the Oct. 15 Mott Poll Report.

For the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H., and colleagues asked a sample of 2,074 randomly selected parents aged 18 years and older about whether their children, aged 2 to 5 years, are afraid of going to the doctor. The report is based on responses from 726 parents.

The researchers found that half of parents reported their child is afraid of going to the doctor either at some or most visits (26 percent) or once in a while (24 percent). Among children aged 2 to 3 years, the most common reasons for being scared were fear of getting a shot (66 percent) and stranger anxiety (43 percent). For children aged 4 to 5 years, overwhelmingly the most common reason for fear was the child being scared of getting a shot (89 percent). Other reasons in the older age group included stranger anxiety (14 percent) and negative memories of being sick (13 percent). Four percent of parents said they had postponed a vaccine for their young child because of fear of doctor visits.

"We found that children's anxiety can negatively impact parents' interactions with providers during visits and even causes a small proportion of families to postpone or cancel appointments," Clark said in a statement.

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