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Your child’s health: Getting ready for college

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CLEVELAND - Sam Velasco is getting ready for her freshman year at Loyola University in Chicago. It will be her first time away from home. "a little nervous cuz it is a different environment, but mostly really, really excited,” Velasco said.

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It can be an exciting and stressful time, with so much to do. Dr. Sara Lee is an Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. She says the number one thing on the checklist is for parents to talk to their children. "So, you want to talk to your student about safety, things that they might encounter in college: so, alcohol, drug use other high risk behaviors like sexual activity,” Dr. Lee added.

Jeremy Mathis has already had discussions with his daughter, Sam. “Being aware of your surroundings, that sort of thing -- especially being in a big city, in a new environment, place that you are not familiar with. That's certainly something that we have talked to Sam about," he said.

Number two on the checklist: see the pediatrician for a complete physical. "They can check to make sure that your teenager is healthy. They need all of their childhood vaccinations. They need all of their adolescent vaccinations. They need their tetanus, their meningitis vaccine, their HPV vaccine - all their vaccinations should be up to date before they go," Dr. Lee said.

Mathis took care of that with Sam. "We ran through kind of a checklist of getting vaccinations in order, seeing the eye doctor, the dentist before she goes off to school. Making sure health wise, she's in good shape," he said.

Dr. Lee suggests your child have a three-month supply of any prescription medicine and a basic first aid kit. "It should have ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Band-Aids. A thermometer would be great, so when your child thinks they have a fever, they can actually check,” Dr. Lee added.

As for being homesick, Dr. Lee says it's natural for your child to feel that way. But, parents should watch for signs of homesickness turning into depression.

Velasco plans to skype with her family to stay close. "I am going to be kind of far away, so it will be hard," she said. "But, I think it's something that we will work through and help her out and really help make college her home," Mathis added.

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