If your baby or child has always been relatively healthy then you might not be aware of the differences between a GP and a pediatrician. However, if there ever comes a time that you have to seek medical advice or opinions, it’s good to know where to start.
Does my child need a GP or a Paediatrician?
Thanks to the Commonwealth Government’s Health Direct website, here’s a look at the difference between a GP and a paediatrician and some information on their respective roles.

What is a General Practitioner or GP?

You local or family doctor, a GP, specialises in general practice medicine and cares for many different health problems in all age groups. Some have special interests such as women or children and others have extra qualifications in specialised medicine.
Tip:  A GP is the first person you should call if you’re concerned about your baby’s development or health. After discussing your concerns, this person will help you figure out whether you need to see another health professional or specialist such as a paediatrician.

Your family doctor can:

  • Talk to you about personal concerns and stresses
  • Help you avoid health problems in the first place
  • Provide immunisations
  • Monitors a child’s health and development
  • Treat non-serious accidents such as cuts, minor bangs to head and plastering of some fractures
  • Make referrals to other service providers and support agencies such as speech pathologists or child psychologists

Does my child need a GP or a Paediatrician?

What is a paediatrician?

This person is a doctor that provides specialist medical care to infants, children and adolescents. They have done at least six more years of training after they finish their medical degree to become a paediatrician. It’s their job to know a lot about the many different illnesses and conditions that can affect your child’s health, welfare and behaviour.
Fact: Pediatricians understand how different illnesses and conditions relate to each other, and some do general training and others specialise in area such as neonatology, cardiology, or development and behaviour.

Does my child need to see a pediatrician?

Well this decision is usually made after you and your child have seen and spoken with a GP or your family doctor. It might be suggested your child sees a pediatrician so they can discuss your child’s health and development or if a GP thinks he or she might need specialised care and treatment.
It’s likely your child has already been seen by a pediatrician, they do the rounds at the maternity ward immediately after your baby is born to make sure everything is as expected.

Pediatricians can help with further assessment and treatment of:

  • Developmental delay
  • Autism and ADHD
  • Poor growth
  • Behaviour problems
  • Disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Brain conditions such as epilepsy
  • Problems with muscles and bones such as bow legs or development of dysplasia of the hip
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Faecal incontinence or constipation

For more free health information thanks to Health Direct visit www.healthdirect.gov.au or call 1800 022 222.

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