The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines pediatrics as a branch of medical science that focuses on the physical, mental, and social health of infants, young children, and young adults up to the age of 18 years. Pediatric care covers a wide range of health services, including prevention-focused health care and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. Children below 18 years differ from adults psychologically, physiologically, anatomically, immunologically, metabolically, and developmentally. As a result, social and environmental factors impact this group of the population differently, prompting more personalized care.
Who is a Pediatrician?
A pediatrician is a physician who specializes in treating children and young people. Most pediatricians are primarily concerned with the health, welfare, and development of their patients. A pediatrician is not only concerned with providing care to chronically ill children but also providing preventative health care for healthy children. Pediatric care revolves around the physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being of sick and healthy children.
Some of the primary responsibilities of a pediatrician include performing physical examinations, recommend and give immunizations, ensure that the kids meet developmental milestones, diagnose illnesses and infections, prescribing medications like pain relievers and antibiotics, provide general healthcare advice on issues like nutrition and fitness, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals when your child is sick and in need of a specialist.
There are several types of pediatricians. However, most pediatricians are primary healthcare providers who give regular health and wellness checkups. Pediatricians can specialize in different specialties, including oncology, mental health, neurology, neonatology, cardiology, rheumatology, child abuse, rehabilitation, among others.
When and why do I need to see a pediatrician?
Parents are advised to take their children to a pediatrician at least seven times during their first year of development. During these visits, the pediatrician will request to know about the child’s developmental progress like feeding, sleeping, and other social habits to establish any physical or behavioral abnormality. Taking your child for regular pediatric checkups ensures that disease or any developmental anomaly is detected early, improving chances of positive outcomes.
A pediatrician has specialized training regarding the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of your child. The four-year education program, backed with a three-year thorough practice and experience gives them a broader knowledge in diagnosing and treating illnesses and problems common in children. You can rely on a pediatrician to accurately define your child’s health status and recommend the appropriate specialist as needed.
Katkin, Julie P., et al. “Guiding principles for team-based pediatric care.” Pediatrics 140.2 (2017).
Lee, K. Jane, Douglas L. Hill, and Chris Feudtner. “Decision-Making for Children with Medical Complexity: The Role of the Primary Care Pediatrician.” Pediatric Annals 49.11 (2020): e473-e477.
Yogman, Michael, et al. “The power of play: A pediatric role in enhancing development in young children.” Pediatrics 142.3 (2018).