If there are two things the French excel at above all else, it’s healthcare and childcare! So as you’d expect, children’s public healthcare in France is both outstanding and accessible. From routine check-ups and vaccines, to specialist care—here’s what you need to know about children’s healthcare in France.
Children’s Social Charges and Health Insurance
All children in France are entitled to free health care under the public health insurance of their parents or guardians. This includes 20 free compulsory health care checks up until the age of 6 to screen for disorders and address any specific issues or concerns. It also includes administering immunizations under their meticulous childhood vaccination program. They offer free access to excellent standards of care, including pediatricians, dentists and other specialists.
Infant Healthcare In France
Before leaving the hospital with your newborn in France, your baby will be given a thorough health check by a fully registered Paediatrician. This will include hearing and sight tests, examination of the heart and lungs, weight and motility check.
Each baby will also be given a carnet de santé (medical record book) which must be taken to every medical appointment the child has, from birth up until the age of 18. It contains growth/weight charts, vaccination records, and information about any illnesses, procedures or treatment the child has or will receive.
In addition the carnet de santé contains a lot of useful snippets of information such as how to properly bathe a baby, how to introduce foods and which teeth to look out for first. Great for the exhausted first-time and seasoned Mums out there!
Baby’s First Year In France
From birth up until the age of 6 months, babies are seen by a Paediatrician or Sage Femme (Midwife) once a month for a full health check and age appropriate vaccinations (see below). This includes screening for genetic, vision, hearing and language disorders and diabetes etc.
After that if there are no issues that require closer surveillance, they will be seen once at 9 months and again at 12 months of age.
Early Childhood Healthcare In France
In a child’s second year and up to the age of 6 years, they will be seen twice a year for a compulsory health check, further vaccinations and to address any issues that might arise.
As mentioned previously, all of these appointments are 100% free on the child’s parents or guardians public health insurance.
Childhood Healthcare In France
From the age of 6 years, the vaccination program will be complete (see below). It is recommended, but not required, to see a doctor or paediatrician once yearly after that.
For any issues or maladies encountered in-between these scheduled childhood appointments, see your regular medecin traitant (family doctor.) In an emergency situation, you can take them to the nearest hospital urgence (emergency) department.
Childhood Vaccinations In France
France has a comprehensive vaccination program for all children aged 0-13 years of age. A number of these are mandatory, more specifically those that protect against significantly dangerous diseases. These include;
- Whooping cough
- Poliomyelitis (polio)
- Haemophilus influenzae b
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcus C
When you register your child into any early childhood care in France you will be asked to show their carnet de santé (medical record book) for proof of their vaccination history. It is important to bear in mind that creches, nounous and schools will not allow your child to attend if they have not been immunised against those diseases listed above.
The complete vaccination and booster schedule including all compulsory vaccinations is as follows.
- From birth: Tuberculosis. This is recommended for at risk children, but not Your paediatrician will advise you further.
- 2 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (first dose).
- 4 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (second dose).
- 11 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio), invasive infections with Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (booster).
- 12 months: Invasive meningococcal infections, Measles, mumps, rubella.
- Between 16 and 18 months: Measles, mumps, rubella (second dose).
- 6 years: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio) (second booster).
- Between 11 and 13 years: Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis (polio) (third booster).
All immunizations are free of charge for children under the age of 6. After that, 70% of the cost is covered by your state health insurance (by presenting your carte vitale at each appointment). The rest will be reimbursed by your assurance mutuelle (private insurance) if you have it.
Childhood Dental Care In France
Between the ages of 6 and 18, children are entitled to a free comprehensive dental health check every 3 years; ages 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18. This includes any orthodontic care the child may require.
Your local caisse primaire d’assurance maladie C.P.A.M (public health insurance body) will automatically send a letter of invitation around the time of your child’s birthday to alert you that they are entitled to their free dental check up. Save this letter to give to the dentist at your appointment. It will confirm that you don’t have to pay anything and enable them to recover their fee.
The child’s appointment must be within 6 months of their birthday and receiving the letter to receive the benefits owed.
When choosing a dentist for your little one it is advisable to ask around your friends for recommendations of a dentist that is gentle and understanding with young children. Those first experiences with a dentist can be scary and overwhelming if not handled sensitively.
Children’s Specialists in France
If you wish to see any children’s specialists in France (for example a nutritionist or language specialist) within the first 6 years of your child’s life a referral is not required.
A list of all specialists and paediatricians local to you can be found on Doctolib.
By Gemma Corby
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