What is pediatrics?

Pediatrics is a medical specialty dedicated to the child, from intrauterine life (in connection with obstetrics) until the end of adolescence. By focusing on nutrition and following the growth and evolution of the child, pediatrics plays an essential role in prevention and detection and focuses on diagnosing and treating pathologies that may affect his health. Today, the pediatric doctor, who often works in a network with other health professionals, education, and social workers, is emerging as a key player in its development.



What does a pediatrician do?

General practitioner of the child, the pediatrician ensures his health, the smooth progress of his growth, and his development, physical and mental. A privileged interlocutor for parents, he advises them on nutrition, sleep, hygiene, and accident prevention. He is also in charge of the early detection of specific pathologies and vaccination follow-up. If the child presents symptoms of diseases, he asks him, if possible, about his condition, conducts a clinical examination, and prescribes additional examinations (blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds, etc.) to determine the appropriate treatment for the clinical context and his age.


When to consult a pediatrician?

In early childhood, where rapid growth weakens the body, consultations with the pediatrician meet a mandatory schedule: monthly for up to 6 months, quarterly for up to 1 year, three times a year for up to 2 years, twice a year up to 6 years … The pediatrician then measures the height and weight of the child, checks his motor and sensory development, vision and hearing, and carries out the vaccination. In any case, if the child manifests disorders or signs of diseases, childhood or other, one should not hesitate to consult: the pediatrician ensures the management, even if it means referring to other specialists according to the organ concerned if he deems it necessary. As for pediatric emergencies, a consultation may be justified in the event of a significant fever, with signs of convulsions, significant unexplained pain, symptoms of respiratory disorders (bronchiolitis in the baby, persistent asthma attacks …), persistent diarrhea and vomiting, etc. Depending on their severity, falls, burns or bruises also require a consultation in the pediatric emergency room.


How to choose your pediatrician?

If the choice of a pediatrician depends on the parents’ criteria (gender, age, attached or not to a health institution, pediatric center, pediatric center, etc.), it is crucial to ensure its availability. Word of mouth, information from your GP or pharmacist …: there is no shortage of sources to identify the pediatrician who meets everyone’s expectations. The general practitioner can sometimes assume this role if he accepts it.


Treatment decisions on behalf of babies, children, and adolescents


Making decisions about your child’s medical treatment can be stressful and difficult. You are probably already upset by his illness or discomfort and may be called upon to make decisions quickly.


To ensure that children benefit from their treatment, decisions must be made jointly with the healthcare team and your child, according to their age and abilities.


Among these decisions, you may need to :


  • Choose between several treatments;
  • Selecting the time of treatment, that is, deciding whether the treatment will be given now or later;
  • Weigh the benefits of treatments against their harm or side effects;
  • In certain situations, when it is unlikely that your child will recover, decide to stop treatment or therapy. In this case, preference will be given to treatments or therapies that relieve your child of pain or symptoms as much as possible.


In general, parents (or guardians) are the main people who make decisions on behalf of their young children. It is then reasonable to think about the following elements :


  • If you don’t understand the choices available to you, ask questions. If you do not speak the same language as the healthcare team, you can request the services of an interpreter.
  • What is the best treatment plan for your child?
  • Examine all the choices that are offered to you. What will their consequences be on your child’s lifestyle, health, and well-being?
  • Will your choices be influenced by your personal, cultural, moral, spiritual, and religious values and beliefs?


What is informed consent?

After you have discussed all aspects of the situation with your child’s caregivers (and with your child himself, if applicable) and have made a decision, you will be asked to give informed consent and, in most hospitals, to sign a consent form.


Informed consent means that you :


  • Understand your child’s medical situation.
  • Understand the choices that are offered to you.
  • Understand the risks and benefits associated with these choices.
  • Have been able to ask questions.
  • Make a decision of your own free will.
  • Accept the treatment.


If you still have questions and concerns, talk to your healthcare provider before giving verbal or written consent.