Families who move to Berlin with small children, or those who have had a baby in Germany, have probably heard about the U1-U9 checkups. The “U” stands for Untersuchung, which translates as “check-up” or “medical exam.” The full name of these check-ups is Kindervorsorgeuntersuchung (children’s preventative medical check-up). These check-ups are the German counterparts to the Baby Health and Development Reviews in the UK and the Well-Child Visits in the United States. The NHS and the American Academy of Pediatrics developed these schedules in the respective countries. In Germany the schedule was first developed in the 1970s by the Federal Committee of Physicians and Health Insurers (Bundesausschuss der Ärzte und Krankenkassen). In 2004 this group became part of the Federal Joint Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss), a group of independent public health agencies. The purpose of these check-ups is to identify early health and developmental difficulties so that they may be treated in a timely fashion. The table below lists the German U-checkup schedule along with the examination focus for each check-up.
If your child is born in Germany, you will receive a yellow booklet- das Gelbe Heft or properly known as the Kinder-Untersuchungsheft- at the hospital, birth center or from the attending midwife at a home birth. Families with children under six and born outside of Germany may obtain this booklet from their local pediatrician. On the cover is the U-checkup schedule listing the U1-U9, the child’s age and the times when these check-ups should take place. There is even a list of dates, based our your child’s date of birth, that will guide you on when to schedule the appointments. The check-up needs to take place within this timeframe in order to be covered by German health insurance companies (Krankenkassen). The inside of the booklet contains pages labeled for each check-up, with space for the pediatrician to fill in your child’s height, weight and other pertinent medical information.
In some German states (Bundesländer) it is mandatory to bring your child to the U-checkups. In Berlin it is not mandatory, but you will be contacted by the local authorities if you do not bring your child starting with the U4. In 2009 the Berlin Senate passed a child protection law (Kinderschutzgesetz). As part of this law, the Senate contracted Charité Hospital, the university clinic for both Humboldt Universität and Freie Universität, to set up a central office to ensure parents receive reminders about upcoming check-ups and to contact parents whose children have not been to these check-ups. Its proper name is the Zentrale Stelle für das Einladungs- und Rückmeldewesen bei der Charité (roughly translated: Central Office for Invitation and Confirmation Procedures at Charité). If your child has not reported to the doctor for their check-up, you will receive a check-up invitation letter from Charité. You will also receive information about the purpose of the upcoming check-up. If you do not contact a doctor within four weeks to set up an appointment, Charité is required by law to report this to the district’s children and youth health service (Kinder- und Jugendgesundheitsdienst, the KJGD). The KJGD will then contact you to offer a home visit, consultation or support. If your child still misses appointments, your case will be reported back to the KJGD for review and further action.
After birth, newborns will receive a screening ID number from the Newborn Screening Laboratory Berlin (Negeborenen-Screening Labor Berlin). This screening ID is a numerical code with corresponding barcode stickers. These are attached behind the front flap cover of the yellow booklet. When your child attends their check-up, the doctor forwards one of the barcodes to the Central Office-Charité. Charité also receives the names of all children of age for the U4-U9 from the Melderegister (the government database for resident registration). If they do not have a barcode from your child for a screening within the mandated timeframe, then they will go through with the invitation contact procedure. Rest assured that the barcode does not allow The Central Office-Charité to access the medical records of your child. To support full confidentiality of children’s data, the Central Office has set up an agency fully focused on this topic, the Vertrauensstelle.
Midwives and pediatricians can help clarify questions you may have about the U-checkups. You can also contact the local Children and Youth Health Service in your district and the Central Office (Zentrale Stelle) at Charité. Charité has a multi-lingual staff and is accustomed to speaking to parents in English, Arabic, Turkish and other languages.
For more information:
Zentrale Stelle Charité
Phone hours: Monday – Freitag: 8 am – 12 noon, 1 – 3pm
Phone number: +49 30 450 566 022
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Einladungs- und Rückmeldewesen für
Augustenburger Platz 1
Pamphlet from Bundeszentrale für Gesundheitliche Aufklärung: Früherkennung und Vorsorge für Ihr Kind, available at kindergesundheit-info.de
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.healthychildren.org
Kinder-Richtlinien des Gemeinsamen Bundesausschusses: http://www.g-ba.de/downloads/62-492-506/RL_Kinder_2010-12-16.pdf
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