Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that involves the medical care of infants, children and adolescents. A medical doctor who specializes in this area is known as a pediatrician. Pediatricians are trained to diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious diseases.
What pediatricians do for your child?
- Physical exams
- Child vaccinations
- Make sure milestones are met in growth, skills and behavior
- Diagnose and treat your child’s illnesses, injuries, infections and other health problems
- Give you information about your child’s health, safety, nutrition, and fitness needs
- Answer questions about your child’s growth and development
- Refer you to specialists if they feel your child needs expert care
Keep in mind that family medicine doctors are also an option for your child. They look after your whole family—kids and grown-ups alike. It’s a personal choice whether you use a family medicine doctor or a pediatrician.
Reasons to go with a pediatrician:
- They have special training in children’s health
- They only see children in their practice, so they have a lot of experience in recognizing and treating childhood illnesses.
- If your child was born early or has a health condition that needs close monitoring, a pediatrician may offer more specialized care.
Most hospitals ask if you have a pediatrician when you go in for a baby delivery. Your baby’s first examination may be with a hospital pediatrician or your chosen pediatrician. It depends on the hospitals policy and whether your newborn’s doctor makes rounds there.
Make sure the pediatrician you choose is “board certified”. That means they’ve passed vigorous exams given by the American Board of Pediatrics. To stay certified, pediatricians have to meet regular education requirements.
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