Types of Pediatrician Specialties
When your child is sick, you want to see a doctor who’s as highly trained in treating that specific problem as possible. Depending on the child’s age and type of ailment, there is a wide range of pediatricians who might be best.
Doctors with pediatrician specialties typically serve as consultants to the patient’s primary pediatrician. They assist in diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and conditions that fall outside a family pediatrician’s area of expertise and help develop care and treatment programs in concert with the primary care physician.
Let’s take a look at fifteen of the more common pediatric specialties:
Neonatology (neonatal studies) focuses on newborn infants, particularly ill or premature newborns. If a child has a birth defect or is born prematurely, a neonatologist will assist with delivery and the care of the infant. If a problem is discovered before the baby is born, the neonatologist will consult with the patient’s obstetrician during the pregnancy. Neonatologists have at least ten years of specialized training, so they can address complex and high-risk situations that a general pediatrician may not be equipped to handle. They can also identify breathing conditions or infections, treat newborns for any kind of life-threatening illness, and coordinate the care of newborns to make sure they receive the proper nutrition for healing and growth.
2. Pediatric Allergy & Immunology
Pediatric allergy specialists and immunologists concentrate on factors related to your child’s immune system. They diagnose, treat and monitor children with a wide array of immune issues including allergies to food, chemicals, medicines and plants, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), allergy based dermatitis, primary immune deficiencies, acquired immune disorders, and genetic defects that alter or impair immune response.
3. Pediatric Cardiology
Pediatric cardiologists specialize in treating children who are born with or who develop heart or vascular system deficiencies, defects or abnormalities. Examples range from heart murmurs and chest pain to dizzy spells, muscle disorders, valve defects, irregular heart rhythm, palpitations, high or low blood pressure, and issues related to the blood vessels.
4. Pediatric Developmental-Behavioral Issues
Developmental-behavioral pediatricians have been trained to determine if a child has any learning, developmental, or behavioral problems. They can assist with a number of issues including learning and attention disorders, tics and other habit disorders, and delayed development in speech, motor skills, and thinking ability. Developmental-behavioral pediatricians are similar to, but not the same as, child psychiatrists.
5. Pediatric Endocrinology
Pediatric endocrinologists treat a wide array of disorders associated with the endocrine and hormone systems. Examples include diabetes, blood sugar issues, thyroid concerns, accelerated or delayed growth, adrenal or pituitary gland dysfunction, early or delayed puberty, and ovarian or testicular disorders.
6. Pediatric Gastroenterology
Pediatric gastroenterologists deal with disorders and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These conditions may be present at birth or surface later as the child develops. Common examples include food allergies, anorexia and bulimia, celiac disease, chronic constipation, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, failure to thrive, gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, and similar digestive and elimination problems.
7. Pediatric Genetics
Pediatric geneticists are doctors with specialized training in both pediatrics and genetics. After eight years of training and two board certifications, they’re qualified to identify causes and treatments for a wide range of differences in a child’s body chemistry or structure. These differences could lead to the child having problems with health, social interaction and/or development. Pediatric geneticists can also help determine whether a particular disease is hereditary and can offer testing for family members to determine if children will develop similar problems to those of parents.
8. Pediatric Hematology
Pediatric hematologists work with children who have blood, bleeding and clotting disorders and diseases. Examples vary widely and range from common and pernicious anemia to hemophilia, immune disorders and sickle cell disease. Hematologists also deal with blood-based cancers like leukemia, so they often work closely with pediatric oncologists.
9. Pediatric Nephrology
Pediatric nephrologists treat children who are born with or develop kidney disorders. Typical conditions include blood in the urine, bladder problems, blood pressure issues related to kidney efficiency, kidney stones, decreased kidney function, swelling and water retention, and urine infections. Because of the significant overlap in function and treatment, pediatric nephrologists and urologists often work closely together.
10. Pediatric Neurology
Pediatric neurologists are highly trained to diagnose and treat problems with a child’s nervous system. This includes conditions like epilepsy, brain tumors, weakness from cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, migraines, delayed speech, and mental retardation. To become a pediatric neurologist, a doctor must first complete medical school, then at least a year of a pediatric residency and a minimum of three years of a neurology residency. Most then get a certification from the American Board of Pediatrics.
11. Pediatric Oncology
Pediatric oncologists specialize in treating various blood diseases and cancers in children. Common examples include leukemia, brain or bone tumors, and diseases of the blood cells. As with other pediatric specialties, extensive specialized education and training is required.
12. Pediatric Orthopedics
Pediatric orthopedists specialize in diagnosing, treating and managing the full spectrum of children’s musculoskeletal problems. Issues range from a toddler who walks on tiptoe to deformities such as clubfoot, curvature of the spine or different limb lengths, as well as broken bones, infections, tumors or growths in or on bones and joints.
13. Pediatric Pulmonology
Pediatric pulmonologists diagnose and treat problems with a child’s breathing or lungs. These specialists go through four years of graduate school and five years of residency training in order to obtain their medical degree and license. They treat patients from birth to 21 years old for a variety of illnesses such as chronic coughing, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other conditions that require special equipment to monitor or help a child’s breathing.
14. Pediatric Rheumatology
Pediatric rheumatologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of children with rheumatic and multisystem inflammatory conditions. Examples include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, juvenile dermatomyositis, juvenile polymyositis, vasculitis and scleroderma.
15. Pediatric Urology
Pediatric urologists treat children who have disorders or diseases associated with their kidneys, bladder, urethra or genitals. Conditions range from urinary tract obstructions and malformations of the genitals to dysfunctions such as incontinence and bedwetting, issues such as hernias and undescended testes, and urinary tract infections.
The exact education and training varies, but typically pediatric specialists complete college (4 years), medical school (4 years), residency training in pediatrics (3 years), and additional education and training in their area of specialty (3 or more years). Most pediatric specialists treat infants, children and adolescents. Many also consult with obstetricians to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of potentially threatening conditions that may affect the baby before or during birth, and some continue to treat patients up to the age of 21.