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When should my child see a pediatric specialist?

Posted 7/1/2018 by Andrew Hertz, MD
Pediatrician, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Clinical
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Andrew Hertz, MD

Andrew Hertz, MD

Your pediatrician is your go-to person for questions about your child’s well-being or when your child gets sick. But sometimes, your child might have a problem that warrants a visit to a pediatric specialist. Andrew Hertz, MD, a pediatrician with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s and Vice President of the Rainbow Primary Care Institute, says, “A pediatric specialist is a doctor who’s received extra training in a certain area. Your child may need to see a pediatric specialist for additional evaluation and treatment beyond what your pediatrician is able to provide.”

Dr. Hertz adds, “Pediatric specialists are also experts in treating kids. They know how to perform exams in ways that make children feel more comfortable. They often work in kid-friendly offices and use medical tools that are designed for use with children.”

A variety of subspecialties

Child dressed as surgeon

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, a full-service children’s hospital and academic medical center, offers every pediatric subspecialty. “Rainbow specialists can provide the most comprehensive expertise and novel treatments for any condition a child may have,” says Dr. Hertz.

Here are examples of pediatric specialists and a few of the common conditions they treat:

Pediatric pulmonologists treat children with asthma, breathing and airway disorders, cystic fibrosis and nonbehavioral sleep disorders.

Pediatric gastroenterologists address issues with the digestive system and liver, and nutritional problems. They treat food allergies or intolerances, chronic constipation and severe gastroesophageal reflux disease, among many other conditions.

Pediatric neurologists and neurosurgeons treat problems that involve the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, muscles and nerves. You may need to see one if your child has a seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, migraines, a serious head injury, hydrocephalus or a brain tumor.

Pediatric cardiologists and heart surgeons treat a number of fetal and pediatric heart conditions, including congenital heart disease, heart murmurs, fainting, chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms.

Pediatric endocrinologists diagnose, treat and manage hormonal disorders, including diabetes, growth problems, hypoglycemia and thyroid disease.

Pediatric hematologist/oncologists treat children, teens and young adults with cancer and blood disorders.

Pediatric orthopedic surgeons treat musculoskeletal (bone) problems in your child, such as broken bones, scoliosis and spinal disorders, limb deformities, gait abnormalities or bone infections.

Pediatric otolaryngologists (ENTs) have the qualifications to treat your child if he or she needs complex medical treatment for illnesses affecting the ear, nose or throat.

Access the full gamut of pediatric specialists through UH Rainbow Care Network, the region’s largest coordinated group of professionals providing care to children. Visit to find a specialist or a Rainbow Specialty Clinic.

Pediatric surgeons diagnose, treat and manage conditions in children that occur from the neck to the pelvic region, like birth defects, appendicitis, injuries, trauma and cancer.

Pediatric nephrologists treat children with kidney disorders, high blood pressure, blood in the urine and symptoms like frequent urination.

Pediatric urologists treat illnesses or abnormalities of the genitals or urinary tract, kidneys and bladder, including recurrent urinary tract infections, hypospadias and kidney stones.

Developmental/behavioral pediatricians might treat your child if he or she has developmental, learning or behavioral problems, such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or anxiety disorder.

“If you think your child needs to see a pediatric specialist, discuss it with your pediatrician,” says Dr. Hertz. “He or she can refer you to a pediatric specialist, if needed.”

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