Pediatrics is the sector of medicine that deals with the health care of infants, adolescent and young adults. This is a Greek word derived from (pais = child) and (iatros = doctor or healer). You can find traces of pediatrics all the way back to the 6th century as it was used by medical practitioners in Ancient India. It is a new form of modern medicine found by the Swedish physician Nils Rosén von Rosenstein in the 17th century. This specialized field of Pediatrics continued to develop in the mid 19th century and progressed all over the world. This gave rise to specialties within pediatrics that were to be opted as a professional medical degree course and training to become a pediatrician.
A pediatrician is a child’s physician that treats a broad range of childhood illnesses. They treat patients ranging from being newborns to 21 years of age. Pediatricians target the physical, mental and behavioral health of children. Pediatrics is not only concerned with treating minor or chronic diseases but it is also intends to provide preventive health services to healthy children. The aim of pediatrics is to improve the living, control the diseases and ensure a longer life of children. Pediatrics is different from adult medicine because the physical structure of a child or infant is different from an adult. Certain health issues like congenital defects, genetic variance and developmental issues are more prominent in neonates and children when compared to an adult.
Pediatricians can specialize in various subdivisions of this field as each one of the subspecialty deals with a different kind of illness, disability, dysfunctioning or disorder. Here is a list of the most prominent ones:
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
As the name suggests this field of pediatrics treats all kinds of learning, developmental and behavioral issues progressing in a child from a young age. There are a lot of disorders related to this subspecialty for instance: motor skills, speech skills, habit disorders and attention disorders etc. Their purpose is similar to psychiatrists as it is not solely targeted towards mental illnesses.
This specialty focuses on infants that are ill or are born premature. A neonatologist will not only treat the defect in the newborn but he will also assist in the delivery of the baby. They go through a time period of 10 years for training to handle the risks that a general physician can’t. They can identify minor illnesses that might turn out to be fatal for even before a baby is born. Neonatologists coordinate their treatments with proper nutritional schedules that can help the infant grow and heal.
Pediatric allergy and immunology
If the body of a child is vulnerable to allergies than it is possible that his immune system is weak. Children are often allergic to pollen, dust, mold spore, medications and even food these conditions are treated by a pediatric allergist/immunologist. Allergies can result in severe infections this is why they have to be treated promptly at an early stage so that they don’t become resistant.
Pediatric cardiology is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of heart defects present in fetuses, infants and children. Pediatric cardiologists evaluate the congenital or acquired cardiac and cardiovascular abnormalities. They have to go through a sub-specialty training to be able to continue practice in this field as it is a very critical branch of pediatrics.
Pediatric critical care
A Pediatric Intensivist deals with seriously ill infants and children that need high-level of monitoring in a specialized intensive care unit. In many cases, an intensivist will also consult other specialists to have a clearer picture of the diagnosis. Intensivists supervise those children who require chronic care or need sedation services. Pediatric Critical Care physicians frequently perform procedures which include intubation and placement of indwelling vascular catheters.
This sub-specialty caters to illnesses that are related to a child’s skin. A pediatric dermatologist is experienced to treat conditions like Eczema, Birthmarks, Psoriasis, Skin infections, Vitiligo and Warts. They can prescribe treatment for these conditions so that the disease is not prolonged.
Endocrinology is the science that studies the effects hormones and glands. A pediatric endocrinologist is has to deal with a little different kind of patients because they are children and their disorders related to hormones are quite different from adults. As children are growing they have to deal with problems related to puberty, enlarged glands, functioning of glands, diabetes, obesity and problems related to genitals etc.
Pediatric gastroenterologists, to be concise deal with problems that are related to your child’s liver, nutritional needs and digestive system. Their specialized training allows them to treat your child using advanced equipment for endoscopies and biopsies. If we view from a broader spectrum then they also treat internal intestinal bleedings, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, pancreatic insufficiency, lactose intolerance and food allergies or intolerances.
Pediatric nephrologists treat children from the stage of being infants through their adolescence till they are young adults. If your child is facing kidney or urinary tract disease, bladder problems, kidney stones, or high blood pressure. A pediatric nephrologist has the expertise to treat your child. They also know how to evaluate and treat problems with growth and development that are specifically related to chronic kidney disease. They also help patients transition from pediatric nephrologists to nephrologists and urologists that care for adult patients as these illnesses might revive later in life.
Pediatric neurologists treats a broad spectrum of neurological disorders which includes conditions like epilepsy, brain tumors, illness from muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, delayed speech, mental retardation, and migraines. The complex nature of nervous system diseases requires a multidisciplinary approach because they often have to treat critical neurological disorders in children.
Pediatric oncologists are physicians that have specialized in treating any blood diseases or cancers in children which includes: leukemia, brain or bone tumors, and bleeding disorders. They have certain ways of examining a child and advanced equipment that can treat these illnesses.
This field of medical practitioners is related to treating children with eye disorders. The neurologic vision of eyes develops at an age of 12 and until then the alignment of vision stays vulnerable. If a child develops conditions like strabismus, myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism it might defer with his/ vision later in life. This is why pediatric ophthalmologists diagnose and treat them at an early stage.
Pediatric pulmonologists treat children that have problems in their breathing or those who have lung complications. These licensed specialists are able to handle a range of illnesses which include asthma, chronic coughing, cystic fibrosis, and other respiratory conditions that require monitoring of the child’s breathing. They also have access to special equipment that a general physician might not have.
This field is related to illnesses that cause pain in the musculoskeletal system like joints, muscles, bones, or tendon. If your child complains about loss of functioning you might not understand the problem he is in this is exactly when you should consult a pediatric rheumatologist as they are able to diagnose minor or chronic mobility issues.
Pediatric geneticists go through a training of 8 years and two board certifications in order to continue practice. They work with pediatrics and genetics to identify the changes caused in the body of a young child that might have been innate. The genetic formation of a child might cause health problems that can affect the child’s development and behavior. The hereditary of a child plays an important role in what kind of diseases he/she might adhere later in life. So, a pediatric geneticist caters to these kinds of health problems.
So, basically Pediatrics is a very vast field and if your child has to be treated for a specific condition you can either be guided by your general physician about the specializing pediatricians or you can confront them directly as each hospital has its pediatrics division divided into sectors that are available to give your child the best possible medical care.