What to know about pediatricians
Pediatricians are specially trained medical doctors who work with babies, infants, adolescents, and young adults.
Children experience rapid physical, emotional, and behavioral changes as they grow up. Children and teenagers have unique medical needs that might fall outside the expertise of doctors who primarily treat adults.
Continue reading to learn more about pediatricians, including what they do, who they treat, and the qualifications required to become a pediatrician. This article also provides a list of pediatric subspecialties.
What is a pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in treating infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatric care can begin before conception and continue through pregnancy.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, setting an upper age limit for pediatric care is not straightforward. The Academy discourage people from setting age limits on pediatric care, as this will depend on an individual’s physical and mental needs.
Children undergo rapid physical and mental changes as they grow. Pediatricians understand this fact and assess a child’s health status based on the normal ranges for their age.
Pediatricians can help diagnose medical conditions in children. Depending on the condition, parents or caregivers may take their children to a primary care pediatrician or a pediatric specialist.
When Should I Start Looking for a Pediatrician?
It’s a good idea to start looking for a doctor about 3 months before your baby is due. Ask for recommendations from relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and doctors you know. Then, check your insurance company’s website to see if the doctors are in your plan.
If you’re new to an area, start by searching for pediatricians on your insurance company’s website or try the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Find a Pediatrician tool.
Look at online reviews and ratings, but proceed with caution. Like all online sites, the reviewers’ opinions and expectations may differ from yours. Make sure the review site only allows feedback from actual patients.
Of course, doctors aren’t the only people in a pediatrics office who care for children. Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) also see young patients. They are trained to give shots, check kids for health problems, prescribe medicines — and do many of the things doctors can do.
Pediatrician or Family Physician: What’s the Difference?
Most pediatricians and the nurses and physician assistants in their practices see children and teens up to age 21. Pediatric training focuses on treating children from birth until adulthood. Family physicians take care of patients of all ages, from kids to seniors.
Both have the same years of training, but pediatricians specialize in children. This give them in-depth understanding of children’s health needs, like behavioral issues and how to care for a child’s growing, developing body.
Reasons Why You Should Visit a Pediatrician
As a young mother, you are always conflicted about whether to visit a pediatrician or a family doctor for the health needs of your child. However, it is important to consider choosing the services of a pediatrician because these professionals specifically focus on the health of your baby. Records from the Health Department show that 93% of the children saw a pediatrician in the last year. If you are wondering why you should see a pediatrician, find out below.
1. New Baby Well Check
Never ignore the health of your new baby. Newborn experts indicate that the health of a new baby should take priority in your life. Health analysis should take place in the first week of their life. Pediatricians will take an average of thirty minutes evaluating the health of your baby, after which they will come up with a conclusive analysis of the baby’s wellness. Having a certified profession analyze the health of your newborn baby is essential in their growth.
2. Annual Physicians Exams
Child well checks are very necessary, and they should take place on a routine basis. These routine health checks are formally referred to as annual physician’s exams. They help in checking whether the baby is growing well and as expected. In most cases, annual physician’s exams are physical checks that include height, weight, and overall body appearance. If the baby is not growing as expected, certain measures will be incorporated to make sure that the right growth and wellness of the baby is achieved.
3. Baby Immunizations
Baby immunization is not only a health requirement but a legal undertaking. Failing to take your baby for pediatric care, especially immunization can lead to jail terms for negligence. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed and implemented a child immunization schedule that should be followed to the letter. If you want your child to grow well, you need to make sure that you adhere to the immunization schedule. Most of immunizations administered to babies start at childbirth and mostly end around the age of 18 months.
4. Nutritional Advice
Kids’ care is not only about immunizations and routine checkups. It is also about ensuring that they are getting the right nutrition for their growth. Most of the children tend to become picky when choosing what to eat. This means that they will end up missing some important nutrients, which are important for their growth. The best pediatrician will make sure that the kids get the recommended daily amount of nutrients. Pediatricians will always provide alternative nutrient sources to the parents.
5. Behavioral Issues
To new parents, the behavior of the child is always an issue of concern. Most of them don’t know whether their children are behaving as expected or they have other behavioral aspects that need the attention of a specialist. Therefore, it is always important to consider the services of an experienced specialist who might help in understanding the behavior of the child. Pediatricians are versed in children’s behavior and will immediately explain whether something is normal or not.
6. Ear Infections
For young children, ear infections are a common occurrence that needs to be dealt with before it gets out of control. Various research studies from the Department of Health show that children are likely to develop ear infections than adults. This explains why you should consider the services of a professional pediatrician regularly.
7. Common Colds
Newborn care is very useful in addressing common colds, especially in cold seasons. It is common knowledge that common colds lead to additional infections to the kids. If not checked immediately, there is a high chance that they will lead to more serious conditions. Seeing pediatric doctors for common cold checks and treatment is, therefore, an important consideration.
Why your child might see a paediatrician
Your child might see a paediatrician if your GP wants a specialist opinion about your child’s health, growth and development, or thinks your child needs specialised care and treatment.
For example, your GP might refer your child to a paediatrician for further assessment and treatment of:
- asthma and allergies
- poor growth
- behaviour problems
- developmental delay
- autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- sleep problems
- brain conditions – for example, epilepsy
- problems with muscles or bones – for example, developmental dysplasia of the hip or bow legs
- disabilities like Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or Fragile X syndrome
- faecal incontinence or constipation.
A paediatrician might also see your baby immediately after birth, to make sure everything is OK.
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who treats babies, children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatricians can work as primary care physicians or specialize in treating children in certain age ranges or children with specific health conditions.
Parents and caregivers can expect frequent pediatrician visits for infants and young children. Older children and adolescents can benefit from annual well-child visits.
People can choose to transition to doctors who treat adults during late adolescence or early adulthood. The choice to change doctors depends on the child, their pediatrician, and, in some cases, insurance coverage.