Posts Tagged ‘pediatrician’

What is a Pediatric Neurologist?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

doctor-and-babyA Pediatric or Child Neurologist specializes in treating problems of the brain, spinal cord, nervous system and muscles, in babies and children up through young adulthood. The word “neuro” refers to nerves or your nervous system. (Nerves help to carry impulses between different parts and organs of your body.) A Pediatric Neurologist may be an important doctor in your child’s care if your child is experiencing particular challenges.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Child neurologists often diagnose, treat, and manage the following conditions:

• Seizure disorders, including seizures in newborns, febrile convulsions, and epilepsy
• Medical aspects of head injuries and brain tumors
• Weakness, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and nervemuscle disorders
• Headaches, including migraines
• Behavioral disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school failure, autism, and sleep problems
• Developmental disorders, including delayed speech, motor milestones, and coordination issues
• Intellectual disability (formerly called mental retardation)
• Hydrocephalus.” (extra fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord)

A Pediatric Neurologist is a highly qualified specialist who went to medical school and then completed at least 1 or 2 years in a pediatric residency, and then 3 or more years of advanced training in a neurology residency.  Most Pediatric Neurologists have attained board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

What should you expect at your child’s first visit?

During a visit with a Pediatric Neurologist, the doctor will take a full history of your child which may include details of your pregnancy and the birth of your baby. The doctor will want to get a full picture of your child to be able to help him. The doctor will speak to you (the parent) and your child if he is old enough to understand and speak.

The doctor will examine your child and check his reflexes, nerves, balance, strength and motor function, and his overall senses. After a thorough examination, he will discuss next steps. He might prescribe additional tests to give him more information, such as an EEG (Electroencephalography) which measures brain wave patterns, and is helpful in diagnosing certain disorders.  Once all test results are in, the doctor will discuss his findings with you.  He will probably send a letter to your child’s Pediatrician or Family Doctor, with his findings and suggestions for future treatment.

It is always a good idea to bring a list of your questions with you when your child sees a doctor. It can be distracting to be caring for your child during the examination, which may make it easy to forget the questions that you had intended to ask.

Where can you find a Pediatric Neurologist?

If you have concerns about your child’s development, first speak to your child’s health care provider (a Pediatrician or Family Physician). Ask if a referral to a specialist, such as a Pediatric Neurologist, might be helpful. Your provider may recommend one or you can locate a Pediatric Neurologist by clicking on AAP’s physician locator.

Bottom line

If there is an issue or problem with your child’s development, it is always better to seek answers earlier rather than later. A Pediatric Neurologist may be a very important doctor in your child’s care.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. You can find the series here.

Are you ready for your baby to come home?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

mom-with-newborn-in-hospitalIf your due date is around the corner, here is a to-do list to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival.

Child safety seat: Make sure your baby’s car seat is safe and correctly installed in your car before you go to the hospital.

Crib: Choose a crib with slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Make sure the crib isn’t painted with lead or varnish. Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk.

Diapers: Plan on using about 70 diapers (disposable or cloth) a week.

Layette: You won’t need a full wardrobe. Here’s the basics to get you started:

• 6 to 8 T-shirts or onesies
• 6 to 8 sleepers
• 4 to 6 pairs of booties or socks
• 4 to 6 receiving blankets
• Washcloths and towels

Medical supplies: It’s good to have these items on hand, ahead of your baby’s arrival:

• Rectal digital thermometer (not a mercury thermometer) and lubricant (petroleum jelly). A rectal digital thermometer gives the best temperature reading for newborns.
• Non-aspirin liquid pain reliever (acetaminophen) for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any other type of pain reliever for infants up to 6 months old.
• Diaper rash ointment
• Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean the umbilical cord stump
• Saline drops to help relieve a stuffy nose
• Infant nail clippers
• Suction bulb for nose

Other supplies:

• A breast pump if you want to express your milk
• Formula and bottles if you plan to feed your baby formula

Choose a health care provider: It is also helpful to choose a health care provider for your baby, before you give birth. This way you have someone to go to for your baby’s first well check visit or if he is not feeling well.

A pediatrician is a health care provider who takes care of babies and children. To find a pediatrician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A family physician is a health care provider who takes care of people of all ages. To find a family physician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Finding a pediatrician for your preemie

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

baby_doctorFinding a pediatrician to care for your baby after he leaves the NICU can seem like a daunting task.  Your baby has been cared for by experts in the field of neonatology.  Finding someone who you feel has the same expertise can be difficult. 

Pediatricians specialize in caring for children from infancy through adolescence.  The most important thing when you choose a pediatrician is finding someone with whom you feel comfortable. You may need to call the practice in the middle of the night with a question so you want to feel confident that the person on the other end of the phone can address your concerns.  You may also want to take logistics into account.  Babies—preemies and full-term newborns–go to the pediatrician a lot during their first year.  Vaccines, weight checks, well-child care, never mind the occasional ear infection, fever, or cold all typically end up in a visit to the doctor.  Remember that when choosing a provider.  Driving an hour when all is well may not seem like a big deal, but making that drive with a baby crying inconsolably because he doesn’t feel well will be much more stressful.  Someone local may also be able to help with things such as preschool recommendations, dentists and other community resources.

If you are trying to find someone, there are a few places to start.  First, ask the neonatologist and NICU team for some suggestions.  They will be familiar with the pediatricians who practice in or near the hospital and may be able to give you some guidance.  Also, if there is a preemie support group, talk to the other parents.  Parents usually have definite opinions about pediatricians so they will be honest and give you great information.  And of course, make sure you check with your insurance company to make sure they cover the doctor you choose.

Once you narrow down your choices, make sure you visit the offices, talk to the doctors, and learn about how the practice is run.  Some things that may be especially important are to understand how after-hours calls are handled and waiting room policies for sick children.  Also, if your baby has special health care needs, make sure that the physician understands those needs and that the practice has the expertise to handle them. 

You may have chosen a pediatrician before your baby was born and you may feel completely comfortable staying with that doctor.  But after the NICU some parents may feel that their needs have changed.  If that is the case, it is OK to find someone who you think may fit your new situation better.  You will be working with your pediatrician for a long time, so you want to make sure that you feel good about your choice and that you have a good relationship.

Finding a doc for your baby

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

baby docYou’re pregnant and getting regular prenatal care – great! You’re all set. So how do you find a good health care provider for your baby once she or he has arrived? This provider could be a pediatrician, a family physician or another kind of health care provider.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should ask the following questions when choosing a baby’s pediatrician, but this list can apply to any health care provider:
• Does the doctor accept your insurance? What are the office hours? Is the doctor taking new patients?
• How often should a baby see the doctor during the first year?
• Which hospital does the doctor use? What is the doctor’s preferred method of contact?
• How much are office visits, immunizations and other care costs?
• Is after-hours care available when your child is sick or when you have questions?

Make sure you feel comfortable talking to him or her. Also make sure their office is in a place that you can get to easily.  Try to decide on and meet with a provider before your baby is born.

Happy 1st birthday

Friday, February 5th, 2010

It’s hard to believe, but my Hannah is one today. I have no idea where this year went. What a whirlwind filled with anticipation, difficulties, excitement, exhaustion, worry and fun! I have to admit that I’m a little sad today. I’m shocked that I feel this way. I’m realizing that the very early stage of our daughter’s life is over. That’s it. The bassinet is in the garage. She’s a toddler who’s drinking from a sippy – cup and loves Sesame Street. She’ll be walking any day now and…oh, brother! I’m tearing-up. It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t remember life without her. However, I do remember what sleep feels like and I would like to have that back again (LOL).

We have her one-year check-up on Monday. It’s been a couple of months since our last visit to the pediatrician, so I’m curious to know how much she’s grown. She needs a couple of immunizations. The doctor will most likely give us the green light to start whole milk. I need to think about questions that I want to ask and write them down. We have so much to look forward to in the upcoming year in terms of her development. It’s been fun sharing stories with you and thanks for reading them. There’s certainly more to come…

So, happy birthday to my precious little girl!

And P.S. – you’ll always be my baby.

Understanding fevers

Friday, December 11th, 2009

It’s only natural to be concerned when your child’s temperature goes up. But not all fevers are a cause for worry. In fact, many fevers don’t need treatment. By activating your child’s immune system, a fever can actually shorten your child’s illness. Normal temperature is not a specific number. Instead normal temperature usually ranges from 97° to 100.4° Fahrenheit. Body temperature also varies according to time of day, age, and physical activity. Pediatricians do not consider a fever significant unless it rises above 100.4°. Treatment is rarely required for a child older than three months who has a mild fever but no other symptoms. But if other symptoms appear along with the fever, you should call your pediatrician. For children younger than three months even a mild fever means you should call your pediatrician right away. To learn more about caring for your baby, visit our website or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Ear infections and antibiotics

Friday, November 13th, 2009

19168604_thbBacteria have been around for more than 3 billion years and have plenty of practice in fighting antibiotics. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians issued treatment guidelines for middle ear infections that include, in certain cases, delaying prescriptions for antibiotics. There are concerns that the bacteria that cause middle ear infections, or Acute Otitis Media, are becoming resistant to antibiotics. In reality, 80 percent of children with Acute Otitis Media get better without antibiotics. Plus, each antibiotic given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat. This creates drug-resistant bacteria, which a child can pass along to siblings and classmates. Also, antibiotics can cause diarrhea or vomiting, and up to 5 percent of children are allergic to them. If you have questions about middle ear infections, talk with your pediatrician. For more information on your child’s health, visit

Growth charts

Friday, October 30th, 2009

88586892_thbPediatric growth charts are a standard part of any checkup.  They have been used by health care providers and parents to track the growth of infants, children, and adolescents in the United States since 1977. They show us how kids are growing compared with other kids of the same age and sex. They also show a pattern of height and weight gain over time, and whether they’re developing proportionately. Girls and boys are measured on different growth charts because they grow in different patterns and at different rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has growth charts available on their website. They are not meant to be used as the only diagnostic tool for evaluating a childs’ health. Instead, growth charts are intended to help form an overall impression. If you have any questions about your child’s growth  (or growth charts) speak to your health care provider.

Click here to view Birth to 36 months: Boys Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles

Click here to view Birth to 36 months: Girls Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles

Baby feet

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

19393021_thbBelieve it or not, the human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body. It has 26 bones, including a complex system of ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. The feet of young children are soft, pliable and grow quite rapidly during the first year. For these reasons, podiatrists consider this period to be the most critical stage of the foot’s development.

Here are some suggestions from the American Podiatric Medical Association to help promote normal development:

Look carefully at your baby’s feet. If you notice something that does not look normal to you, contact the baby’s pediatrician or a podiatrist. Many deformities will not correct themselves if left untreated.

Keep your baby’s feet unrestricted. No shoes or booties are necessary for infants. These can restrict movement and can inhibit toes and feet from normal development.

Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables the baby to kick and perform other related motions which prepare the feet for weight bearing.

Change the baby’s position several times a day. Lying too long in one spot can put excessive strain on the feet and legs. Be sure to limit how much time your baby spends standing in an activity center to no more than 15 minutes at a time.

It is not recommended to force a child to walk. A child will walk when physically and mentally ready. When a baby first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors. As a toddler, walking barefoot allows the youngster’s foot to grow normally and to develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. When walking outside or on rough surfaces, babies’ feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.

Finding a doctor for baby

Friday, September 25th, 2009

20344732_thbTowards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I emailed our siblings and close friends for recommendations to pediatricians.  We asked them all a ton of questions, but still needed to call a couple of doctor’s offices for additional information. Things that were important to us included:

First and foremost, did this doctor accept our insurance?
Was the doctor a board certified pediatrician?
What hospital was the doctor affiliated with?
Was the doctor nice and well-liked?
Was he/she supportive of breastfeeding?
Was it easy to get an appointment at his/her office?
Were the staff and the office itself pleasant?
Did they have well-baby office hours?
Was the office close to our house?
How were calls and emergencies handled after hours?

With the exception of the occasional lengthy wait in the waiting room, we’re having a good experience with the doctor that we picked for our daughter. He is very friendly and throughout the visit asks, “so, what questions do you have?” I never feel rushed. I trust him. I actually enjoy taking her for her check-ups. This was not apart of the criteria for a selecting a pediatrician, but he happens to wear funny ties and the baby loves to stare and grab at them. So we think she likes him, too : )

How did you find your baby’s doctor?

Happy Friday! See you next week.