Pediatrics is the medical specialty that deals with the care of infants, children and adolescents. It includes well-child care focused on growth and development and identifying problems in the early stages, as well as acute care for infections, diseases and injuries. Pediatrics is a component of family medicine and naturopathic medicine, and some naturopathic physicians even specialize in pediatrics.
Naturopaths treat both acute and chronic conditions in children. A naturopath might care for a child with a broken leg, diagnose strep throat, or identify a hearing or vision problem. Naturopaths also provide primary care for children with cancer and chronic diseases, treat allergies and food intolerances. They deal with child abuse, manage problems like muscle strains and sprains, and treat menstrual problems in teens. Naturopaths are much more likely to treat children with botanical medicines and homeopathy, as the risk of side effects is much lower than with conventional medications.
Well-child care is one of the biggest aspects of pediatric care, whether by a naturopath or a conventionally-trained physician. Children are not just small adults but have many developmental issues. Preventive care helps identify possible problems, confirms that development is proceeding normally, and provides reassurance to parents. It also offers an opportunity to teach patients and parents about issues like safety and provide what’s known as anticipatory guidance — getting parent and child ready for the next stage in development.
Some children have very complex special needs, like autism, cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities. Certain mental health conditions may become apparent in childhood. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, can affect a child's ability to learn, as can dyslexia, a language-based learning disability. Other potential developmental issues include vision problems and hearing difficulties. Naturopaths ensure that they are treating the whole child and not just a particular medical condition.
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