Pediatric endocrinologists are physicians who have special training and expertise in the care of children and adolescents with hormone disorders. Hormones are chemical signals secreted by various glands that travel to target tissues through the bloodstream. Although most pediatric endocrinologists see patients in the setting of an academic medical center or private practice, others work in laboratory-based or clinical research, administration, or industry.
Why should you see a pediatric endocrinologist?
Pediatric endocrinology is a “subspecialty” of pediatrics that deals with a defined system within the body and a limited number of conditions. It requires a depth of knowledge beyond what general practitioners commonly attain for those conditions. Pediatric endocrinologists bring their knowledge and experience to the patients and families that they encounter, which complements the care provided by the pediatrician or family physician. Children are typically referred to pediatric endocrinologists by their primary care provider.
What types of conditions does a pediatric endocrinologist treat?
- Height issues
- Disorders of puberty
- Thyroid problems including thyroid cancer
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Obesity and associated metabolic complications
- Disorders of sex development
- Gender dysphoria
- Cancer survivors with hormonal issues
- Syndromes: Turner, Down, Prader-Willi, others
How does a pediatric endocrinologist differ from a general endocrinologist?
Pediatric endocrinologists have specific training in treating children and adolescents. The types of hormone problems that develop during this age range are largely different from those that arise in adults. Importantly, pediatric endocrinologists are accustomed to interacting with children and their families and have a better appreciation of the impact of medical issues in the context of different stages of development.
What kind of training do pediatric endocrinologists have?
Following medical school graduation, pediatric endocrinologists complete a 3-year residency program in General Pediatrics. This is followed by Fellowship training in Pediatric Endocrinology that requires an additional intensive 3-year training program that specifically focuses on the diagnosis and management of conditions within the subspecialty. Additional goals of training are to learn how to be an effective consultant, create and integrate new knowledge into practice, and educate future generations.
What is a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist?
Beyond state medical licensing, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) provides certification of a high level of physician competence within the subspecialty of pediatric endocrinology. While board certification is technically voluntary, it is a level of recognition that is commonly sought, as it provides the public a standard of excellence. Board certification in Pediatric Endocrinology requires initial certification in general pediatrics, satisfactory completion of fellowship training in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the United States or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada, and passing the certification exam. The ABP runs a Maintenance of Certification program that provides reassurance that board-certified pediatric endocrinologists remain knowledgeable about current medical knowledge and practice.
How do you find a pediatric endocrinologist?
Your pediatrician may have pediatric endocrinologists that he or she has referred other patients to in the past. Most medical schools or children’s hospitals will have pediatric endocrinologists affiliated with their institution. The Pediatric Endocrine Society also maintains a searchable list of its members.