Primary care physicians who have the knowledge and expertise to treat babies, children, and teens come from different areas of specialty medicine. However, the type of physician you choose as a primary care doctor for your child depends on his or her medical and developmental needs and may change as your child grows.
Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in treating infants, young children, school-age children, and adolescents. While pediatricians diagnose and treat childhood illnesses and address issues relating to growth and development, they also provide preventative health care to help keep your child healthy.
By choosing a pediatrician as your child's primary care physician, you are getting more than a doctor who is specially trained and experienced in the physical, emotional, and social development of children. A pediatrician can answer your questions and help you understand your child's needs throughout the various stages of his or her growth and development.
Family Medicine Physician
A family medicine doctor can treat your child from infancy through to the teen years. Since a family practice physician is trained to care for individuals of all ages, he or she can continue to treat your child into adulthood.
Family medicine doctors treat all kinds of childhood and adult illnesses, perform physical exams, manage chronic health conditions, and provide preventative services such as vaccinations and health screenings. A family practitioner is also aware of health issues that affect your other family members and therefore is in a position to link that information to a health problem from which your child may be suffering.
Internal Medicine Doctor
An internal medicine doctor—also known as an internist—usually treats adults. However, some internists undergo additional training in adolescent medicine.
As a teen's primary care physician, an internist has the opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with the patient that can continue into adulthood. General internists diagnose and treat both acute illnesses and chronic diseases—an advantage if your teen develops a lifelong chronic health condition.
Adolescent Medicine Specialist
An adolescent medicine specialist is a pediatrician or internal medicine doctor who has additional training in treating adolescents. These doctors provide health care for teens and young adults.
By focusing on a teen's physical and emotional health care needs, adolescent health specialists help adolescents make the transition from pediatric to adult health care services. Another important role of these doctors is to educate teens on healthy lifestyle practices as they mature into adulthood.
Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist
Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women's health issues. But since not all family medicine doctors or pediatricians provide gynecological care, it may be necessary for your daughter to see a pediatric gynecologist once she starts menstruating. She may actually feel more comfortable with a pediatric gynecologist trained in sensitivity issues, especially if the onset of puberty comes at a younger age or she experiences menstrual problems.
Some female children need specialized gynecologic care from infancy. For example, if your child has a congenital anomaly or rare condition that causes gynecological concerns, a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist can provide care throughout all your child's developmental years. Find more info.