Children’s health doctors
Your child will encounter numerous medical professionals from the moment they are born. These people are there for your child as much as they are there for you to answer questions, diagnose illness, and ensure overall health. Some children only ever see the family doctor, while others may need an allergist or orthodontist. Here are just some of the medical professionals your child may come into contact with.
- annual physical exams
- disease care
- treatment of common illnesses
Most people opt for a pediatrician, especially in the child’s youngest years. However, seeing a family doctor means your child could be with the same doctor their entire life. If your child sees a pediatrician, then they will usually switch to a general practitioner after puberty is complete. This happens around 16 or 17 years of age. When your child is first born, they will need to go to the pediatrician or family doctor quite frequently. Within the first year of life, your new baby will need up to six “well-baby” or “well-child” visits. During these visits, they will be weighed, have their development assessed, and receive vaccinations. However, after the 12-month mark, the recommended frequency of these visits drops off significantly and may vary according to your practitioner. An annual well-child visit is still advised for children older than 3 years.
If you’re concerned about your child’s health and don’t already have a pediatrician, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
- birth control
Young women should visit their gynecologist every year. Many pediatricians can also do these visits, though some do not. Talk to your teen about what she prefers.
If your child develops asthma or has frequent allergic reactions that impair their daily life, they may be referred to an allergist. An allergist will perform specific tests to determine whether your child has allergies or sensitivities to their environment. They can recommend treatments and medications to make breathing easier as well.
An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in understanding the body’s metabolism and production of hormones. If your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or a hormone imbalance, you will need to bring them to a doctor specializing in endocrinology. Thyroid and adrenal issues, though unlikely to occur in babies, are often discovered as a child approaches puberty. An endocrinologist can diagnose and treat these conditions.
A dermatologist diagnoses and treats diseases of the skin. Birthmarks and inherited skin disorders may need to be addressed by a dermatologist after your child is first born. As your child approaches puberty, they may need a dermatologist to help them deal with hormonal acne and other skin changes that occur as they get older. Although there are dermatologists who specialize in pediatric medicine, most dermatologists can assess skin problems in any age group.
Child psychologist or psychiatrist
A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Sometimes a traumatic event, the death of a loved one, or big changes in family life will mean that your child needs to speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Whether mental health symptoms are behavioral or emotional, it’s important to address the way your child feels and make sure that they know they have someone to talk to. Sometimes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or other learning challenges make a mental health professional an essential part of your child’s academic success as well. If your child needs to be prescribed medication for a mental health diagnosis, then they will need to see a child psychiatrist.
If your child is diagnosed with a serious and ongoing medical condition, they may need to be treated in a children’s hospital. The advantage of a children’s hospital is that the equipment and treatment options are tailored to the needs of children, and the staff have been specially trained to communicate with and be sensitive to children. Only 1 in 20 hospitals in the United States is a children’s hospital, so traveling to one is not always convenient. But if your child is in a situation where specialized care is required, going to a children’s hospital might make for a better and more effective experience.