Childhood is a critical time for health. It’s during childhood that conditions like allergies and early precursors for adult illnesses can be found. When children receive prompt preventative care, they have better health outlooks as adults. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we understand that many parents have questions about pediatrics, particularly new patients. Learn more about frequently asked questions about pediatrics before you contact our clinic to schedule your child’s first appointment.
Pediatrics Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Ages Is a Pediatrician for?
Pediatricians are specially trained to treat the medical concerns of children and teenagers. The typical age range for a pediatrician will include newborns all the way to older teens. Sometimes, patients will continue to see a pediatrician until the age of 21 before transferring their care to an adult health specialist.
Pediatricians are physicians who specialize in childhood diseases, preventative health, and so much more. For parents, a pediatrician is a primary care physician for virtually all health concerns, aside from health emergencies. Pediatricians are a vital resource for ongoing healthcare and advice as children age.
2. When Should a Child Stop Seeing a Pediatrician?
Most pediatricians will continue to see patients between the ages of 18 and 21, although some may continue to see certain patients through college under some health circumstances. Although many childhood health concerns will develop during earlier adolescents, there are some health and behavioral concerns that may develop as teens get older.
Continuing to see a regular pediatrician can ensure each child receives timely care. That said, a pediatrician may refer an older patient to an adult health specialist if there are no specific concerns that need to be monitored by a familiar position. You can always ask your pediatrics specialist about the best time to discharge care.
3. What Can a Pediatrician Treat?
Pediatricians are trained to identify and treat a range of general health concerns for growing children. This includes basic childhood diseases like chickenpox to more specific concerns like allergies. Pediatric specialists are educated in developmental health, emotional health, and other types of wellness associated with growing up. Some of the concerns a pediatrician can treat include:
- Ear, nose, and throat
- Childhood diabetes
- Childhood diseases
Pediatricians offer several specific services, as well. For example, children involved in sports may need sports physicals before participating in sport programs. Children also need regular wellness exams and back-to-school exams or immunizations. Pediatricians can also handle prescription and prescription refills to manage conditions like asthma, diabetes, or other concerns.
4. Do You Need a Pediatrician Before Your Baby Is Born?
Much to the surprise of some expectant parents, it’s important to see a pediatrician before your child is born. It’s recommended for parents to find a pediatrician during the third trimester to establish new patient care and monitor the health of an infant for better supportive care post-birth. Seeing a pediatrician during the third trimester is important to build a relationship between parent and doctor.
5. How Soon Should an Infant See a Pediatrician?
Newborns will need to see a pediatrician fairly soon after being discharged from the hospital. The earliest a newborn can be taken to a pediatrician is three to six days after being born. This visit will examine the infant to identify any issues related to birth or congenital defects, and will also establish guidelines for parents about feeding frequency and healthy weight gain.
For mothers who are breastfeeding, pediatricians can offer advice on lactation or refer you to a lactation specialist. After the first visit, it’s common for newborns to visit a pediatrician at two weeks old, two months old, four months old, six months old, and 12 months old. After that, the next visits will be yearly or bi-annually.
6. Why Does Your Child Need a Pediatrician?
Pediatricians are more than just physicians for children. There are a few specific reasons why your child should see a pediatrician. For example, pediatrics specialists can offer healthy lifestyle advice for parents so children can grow healthy. It’s common for pediatricians to monitor weight gain and advise parents on nutritional changes to support healthy growth. Other ways your child can benefit from regular pediatric care includes:
Preventative care is essential for children. Pediatricians will give regular examinations to screen for common early diseases. By receiving early preventative care, children can minimize certain health risks from childhood diseases, including childhood diseases that can follow a person into adulthood. Preventative care can be especially important for children who have family markers for high-risk diseases.
Acute Illness Care
Acute illnesses like the flu, colds, or other common diseases like eczema can also be managed by a pediatrician. Acute illnesses tend to be brief and can be easily managed when proper care is received. Some acute illnesses are very common throughout childhood, but receiving prompt care can help children recover more quickly. Treatment for acute illnesses may involve prescriptions or other care advice.
Ongoing Care for Chronic Illness
Pediatricians can also handle ongoing care for certain chronic illnesses. For example, children with diabetes will need regular health monitoring from a pediatrician to ensure that all health needs are met. Ongoing care may also involve your pediatrician consulting with other specialists for more comprehensive healthcare and monitoring.
7. How Can Pediatric Care Help Prepare for School?
Yes. Most school districts mandate that all children attending public or private schools receive regular health screenings and immunizations before the start of school each year. Yearly checks for wellness can monitor basic developmental health concerns, including vision, hearing, weight, and height. Common immunizations, such as booster shots, are also performed at annual wellness checks so each child is prepared for school.
8. How Frequently Should a Child See a Doctor?
In general, a child will only need to see a physician once every year or once every two years after a certain age unless there is an acute health concern or a chronic health concern that needs to be monitored. Your physician will give you a better idea of how often your child needs to be seen to monitor health risks and support ongoing healthy development.
9. Do Pediatricians Handle Vaccines?
Yes, many pediatricians do handle basic vaccinations. For example, immunization for tetanus, whooping cough, and yearly flu vaccinations can all be handled by a pediatrician. Please contact our office for more information about immunization for COVID-19. It’s important for your child to receive all vaccines to protect against childhood diseases and other illnesses. Some schools require immunization records before children can be enrolled in classes, even for teenagers.
10. What If Your Child Needs a Specialist?
If your child has an ongoing health concern that will need the assistance of a specialist, then your child’s pediatrician, as a primary care provider, will be able to offer a referral. It’s also common for your child’s pediatrician to work in tandem with a specialist to provide ongoing care for certain health concerns, including monitoring for any changes in health.
11. Can Pediatricians Do Allergy Testing?
Pediatricians can handle some routine allergy tests, particularly if there is a need to establish food allergies or contact allergies. This can be an important healthcare step for children who have a highly responsive immune system, children who have had severe allergic reactions, and children who may need prescriptions for Epi-pens.
12. What If Your Child Is Hospitalized?
If your child is hospitalized from an emergency room visit, then it’s common for any medical records from this hospitalization to be transferred to your child’s physician for ongoing monitoring. Transferring medical files ensures that your child will have the proper care after health emergencies, including managing any prescriptions that may be necessary for continued care.
Get the Care Your Child Needs
A pediatrician is a physician that specializes in the care of children from infancy to adulthood. Pediatrics is an expansive field of medical study that covers a wide range of common diseases and conditions developed during childhood. The goal of a pediatrician is to work with the parent to ensure the child is developing in a healthy way, particularly in the case of preventative care and the treatment of acute illnesses.
Securing the care of a pediatrician means attending regular wellness visits, receiving necessary immunizations, and following health advice for the betterment of your child’s development. Please contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA to schedule your child’s initial appointment with one of our pediatrics specialists today.