What is a paediatrician?

A paediatrician is a medical specialist who has completed 7 years of general medical training and then undertaken a minimum of 6 years of additional training in infant, child and adolescent health.

They are experts in child health and development and undertake at least 100 hours of extra training per year to maintain and develop their skills.

what is a paediatrician
Who can see a paediatrician?

Most general paediatricians see patients from birth to 18 years of age.

There is no legal restriction to a paediatrician providing care to an individual of any age, however once adolescents transition to life independent of school and parents they are best cared for by experts in adult medicine such as your general practitioner (GP) or adult physician.

A referral from your GP dated before or on the day of your child’s appointment is required in order to access a Medicare rebate for your visit with a paediatrician.

When should your child see a paediatrician?

There are many reasons why you might choose to see a paediatrician.

Some reasons why you might request to see a paediatrician include certain medical conditions such as:

  • Moderate to severe asthma, viral-induced wheeze or bronchiolitis
  • Neurological conditions e.g. seizures/epilepsy, headaches, cerebral palsy, toe-walking, tic disorders
  • Poor growth
  • Digestive issues e.g. gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivities
  • Sleep disorders e.g. obstructive sleep apnoea, difficulty with your child getting to or staying asleep
  • Continence issues e.g. bed wetting, faecal incontinence (encopresis) or constipation

There are a number of developmental issues which would benefit significantly from paediatric referral including:

  • Global developmental delay/intellectual disability
  • Delayed motor milestones
  • Genetic conditions e.g. Down syndrome, Fragile X
  • Attention difficulties e.g. ADHD. Medications for ADHD can only be prescribed by a paediatrician or psychiatrist.

Remember, if you are worried about your child’s health or development you should see your GP first to discuss your options.

When should you be worried about your child’s health?

There are some clear reasons you should request to see a paediatrician:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Fever lasting longer than 1 week
  • Significant change in energy levels or behaviour
  • Rapid increase or decrease in head circumference, particularly for young babies
  • Growth is crossing centile lines in your child’s health record or ‘green book’
  • Something is ‘not right’ – research has proven that parental instinct is a very reliable indicator of an underlying problem
mother and newborn
When should you be worried about your child’s development?

There are some developmental reasons you should request a referral to a paediatrician. These include when your child:

  • Is not walking by the age of 18 months
  • Doesn’t have any clear words by the age of 18 months
  • Is not joining two words together by the age of 2 years e.g. “more milk”
  • Is losing skills they previously had
  • Is not pointing with their index finger by the age of 2 years
  • Your child’s kindergarten or school has indicated concerns
The Next Steps

If you’re unsure about whether a paediatrician is the right fit for your child, get in touch with your GP or CONTACT US. Once you have a GP referral letter, we’d love to help.