Anchorage Health Department to offer low-cost baby check-ups

A person leaves the sliding glass doors ofa pink building witha white sign above that says "Anchorage Health Department
The Anchorage Health Department on Nov. 8, 2021 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Health Department will soon start offering check-ups for babies. It’s “Well-Baby Clinic” launches April 9. 

Anchorage Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Savitt said the program aims to ensure more children are getting important routine and preventative care early. Right now, he said, half of children in the city don’t have a medical provider, and that’s concerning.

“It’s frightening because there’s no way to determine outside of examining a child if their growth is normal growth — meaning their length, height, weight and their head circumference is showing normal growth parameters,” Savitt said. “It’s very important to identify problems very early on before they become bigger problems.”

The clinic will serve children from infants to 2 years old. The health department recommends babies visit 10 times with a provider during their first two years, starting in the first week. 

Savitt said babies who visit will be able to get vaccinations, lab testing and can be connected with a provider for sick-care. Also, he said, an important part of the visit is letting families know what to expect next for their baby and risks they should understand.

“Never, ever leave the baby on an elevated surface, and either walk away or even turn your back for a second because they’re very quick,” Savitt said. “They can roll, they can fall off and they can become injured. We don’t assume somebody knows these things, especially a first-time parent, who may or may not have a grandparent to help advise them.”

Savitt said families, if they qualify, will also be connected with the state’s Women Infants and Children program. Through WIC, low-income families can get nutritious food and help with breastfeeding and Savitt said nutrition is really important for babies early on. 

“A baby will double his or her birth weight by four to six months, and will triple it by a year,” Savitt said. “If nutrition is not adequate, then that’s not going to happen. It will affect their growth, it will affect their development. And it may be something that can affect them long term.”

The Well-Baby Clinic will be held every Tuesday and appointments are required. Well-baby exams cost $40, but the clinic uses a sliding scale and the visit will be free for families that qualify. The clinic also accepts insurance including Medicaid. Savitt said he hopes the department can continue the program indefinitely. 

RELATED: More women in Alaska will be covered by Medicaid during pregnancy and for the year after giving birth

Rachel Cassandra covers health and wellness for Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Rachel here.

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