Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that involves the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends people be under pediatric care up to the age of 21. A medical doctor who specializes in this area is known as a pediatrician, or paediatrician. The word pediatrics and its cognates mean “healer of children”; they derive from two Greek words: παῖς (pais “child”) and ἰατρός (iatros “doctor, healer”). Pediatricians work both in hospitals, particularly those working in its subspecialties such as neonatology, and as primary care physicians. A major difference between the practice of pediatric and adult medicine is that children, in most jurisdictions and with certain exceptions, cannot make decisions for themselves.
The issues of guardianship, privacy, legal responsibility and informed consent must always be considered in every pediatric procedure. Pediatricians often have to treat the parents and sometimes, the family, rather than just the child. Adolescents are in their own legal class, having rights to their own health care decisions in certain circumstances.
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