Family Doctors

Providing comprehensive medical care for children is an integral and enjoyable part of family medicine that defines a critical distinction between the family physician and other medical specialists. The provision of well child care through a series of periodic examinations forms the foundation for the family physician to build lasting relationships with entire family and their community and to establish the patient’s medical home. Better nutrition, safety methods, and immunizations have significantly improved the health of US children, but serious childhood health problems persist. Inadequate or delayed prenatal care, childhood obesity, failure to optimize intellectual potential, and poor management of developmental delay are examples of remaining critical issues. Barriers to health care such as insufficient health literacy and lack of insurance coverage compound these issues. One of the key reference guides for pediatric health promotion is the third edition of Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, which was funded by USA Department of Health and Human Services. Bright Futures outlines a system of care that addresses basic concerns of child rearing such as nutrition, parenting, safety, and infectious disease prevention with focused attention on evidenced-based health components and interventions. The underlying purpose is to identify concerns about a child’s development and to intervene with early prevention or treatment to optimize eventual capabilities. Family physicians need to comfortably identify common normal variants as well as abnormal findings that may require referral.    

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