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The ultimate guide to pediatric specialties

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For parents, being told your child is sick may be a scary situation. For families who need care from a specialist, a doctor who trained in a particular field of study, it may be even scarier unless they are confident in that physician’s recommendations and treatment of their child.

When your child needs help, your pediatrician or family medicine physician may refer you to a pediatric specialist. A pediatric specialist can offer further evaluation and treatment, as they have more extensive training in that area of medicine. If your child has a rare condition, chronic illness, developmental delays, or a disability, they will most likely be referred to see a pediatric specialist.

Pediatric specialists focuses on care outside the realm of a family medicine or primary care physician. This specialized care makes them the expert in diagnosing and treating your child with the best care. Below are some areas of pediatric specialties, and these physicians are available to treat patients through SIU Medicine’s clinics:

Pediatric pulmonology

Physicians specializing in pediatric pulmonary medicine treat diseases and disorders affecting the lungs and respiratory system in infants, children and adolescents. This includes seeing patients with difficult-to-treat asthma, pulmonary complications of prematurity, cystic fibrosis, wheezing, chronic shortness of breath, sleep apnea or other problems, and other pulmonary diseases. 

Pediatric heart care

Pediatric and fetal cardiology is the branch of medicine that deals with treating diseases and abnormalities of the heart. Pediatric heart care also includes treatment of congenital heart defects, arrhythmias – which is an irregular heart rhythm, or endocarditis – an infection of the heart. At SIU Medicine, this includes treating young athletes with heart conditions.

Pediatric gastroenterology

Pediatric gastroenterology is a sub-specialty focused on both nutritional health and well being, and the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases affecting the digestive system in infants and children. Common pediatric digestive diseases that are treated include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Pediatric endocrinology

Pediatric endocrinology focuses on treatment of diseases related to hormones, including metabolism, respiration, sensory perception, and movement issues in children. Common endocrine disorders include pediatric diabetes, including type 1 and type 2, thyroid conditions, childhood obesity, bone and mineral disorders, growth disorders, and many more.

Pediatric hematology & oncology

Pediatric hematology and oncology is a medical sub-specialty focused on diagnosing, treating and managing children and teens with blood disease or cancer. Pediatric oncologists treat leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, bone tumors and solid tumors. Pediatric hematologists treat diseases of blood cells including disorders of white cells, red cells and platelets, as well as bleeding disorders.

Pediatric plastic surgery

Pediatric plastic surgery provides treatment and procedures for infants and children in need of restorative or reconstructive surgery, as a result of either acquired or inherited deformities. These deformities can include cleft lip and palate, misshapen skull, protruding or absent ear, webbed fingers and toes, birthmarks and scars, burns, as well as injuries to the head, face, hands, arms and legs.

Pediatric ear, nose, and throat

Pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT), or pediatric otolaryngology, is a medical and surgical sub-specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of the ears, nose and throat in infants, children, and adolescents. Common pediatric ENT conditions include breathing difficulties, cleft lip and palate, hearing loss or deafness, facial nerve injuries, nasal deformities and obstruction, sinus infections, thyroid diseases, tongue tie, tonsillitis, and traumatic injuries to the head and neck.

Pediatric urology

Pediatric urology is dedicated to treating illnesses and conditions affecting the genital and urinary systems of infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric urologist treats genital malformations, birth defects including hypospadias, bladder abnormalities and kidney issues.

Pediatric neurology

Pediatric neurology focuses on disorders of the nervous system in infants, children, and adolescents. Neurological development problems during childhood could include seizures, movement disorders, Autism spectrum disorders, congenital birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord, migraines, behavioral disorders, childhood epilepsy, and many more.

Pediatric emergency medicine

Pediatric emergency medicine treats immediate, unscheduled and potentially life-threatening conditions or injuries in infants and children. Pediatric emergency physicians diagnose patients in the acute phase, which occurs at the time of injury and usually continues up to a week. 

Developmental-behavioral pediatrics

Developmental-behavioral pediatricians evaluate, counsel, and provide treatment for children, adolescents, and their families with a wide range of developmental and behavioral difficulties. These difficulties include learning disorders such as dyslexia, attention and behavioral disorders, tics or Tourette syndrome, sleep disorders, feeding problems, delayed development in speech, language, motor skills, thinking ability, as well as many other difficulties.

It can be very unsettling having to take your child to a specialist, and SIU Medicine is here to support you through the entire process, with your child’s health care as the top priority. Your pediatric specialist will discuss with you and your child about any concerns. They will delve into your child’s medical history, lab results, as well as answer any and all questions you have.

If you or someone you know has a child who has a rare medical condition, chronic illness, developmental delays, or a disability, call SIU Medicine at 217-545-8000 to set up an appointment with a pediatric specialist.

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