Family practitioner or pediatrician: What’s right for your child?

It’s the battle of the doctors: Pediatricians vs. family care physicians.

And at the moment, the peds are crushing the family docs.

Nearly three-quarters of all children see a pediatrician when they’re sick instead of a family care physician, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The number of visits to pediatricians rose by 15 percent over the past 26 years, while visits by children to family physicians and internists dropped from 33 percent to 22 percent.

Parents have a zillion decisions to make when it comes to raising healthy kids and this is yet another of those tricky ones that must be made ASAP when the baby arrives.

It’s a difficult choice to make, so we’ll cut straight to the facts.

Dr. Scott Goldstein, clinical instructor at Northwestern University and pediatrician with Northwestern Children’s Practice, along with Dr. Alvia Siddiqi, family practice physician with the Alexian Brothers Medical Group in Elk Grove, weigh the pros and the cons of each type of doctor.

Pediatrician

Family Care Physician

Pros

  • At least three full years of training
  • specializing in kids’ health
  • Drop-in hours
  • Connections with specialists for children with special needs
  • Experience with children’s problems helps them determine what’s normal and what’s not
  • Kid-friendly waiting rooms and offices
Cons

  • You have to find a new doctor once the kids turn 18
  • Little to no familiarity with your hereditary health problems
Pros

  • One trip to the doctor takes care of wellness visits for the entire family
  • Familiarity with your entire family’s hereditary health problems
  • Relatively few germs in the waiting room
  • Never have to change your child’s doctor when he turns 18
  • More of a holistic approach to the entire family’s health
Cons

  • Usually only studied kids’ health for six extra months
  • Less familiarity with kids’ health specialists if there’s a problem
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