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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When You Need a Different Doctor


Sometimes, just a small change is needed. A girl with a male pediatrician or a boy with a female pediatrician may gradually become a bit shy about being examined by a doctor of the opposite sex, says Michelle Perro, M.D., a pediatrician in Fairfax, CA.

“This can happen as young as 6 years old for some girls,” says Perro. Often, the solution is to...
...continue to see a pediatrician, but to ask for a referral to a doctor of the same sex, she says. Some kids never mind either way about this issue, Perro adds. It all depends on the child.

Also, as your daughter gets older, she may want to stay with her pediatrician for everything except Pap smears and pelvic exams. There’s no reason why she can’t see a gynecologist in addition to her pediatrician. Perro says it’s generally recommended that girls have their first Pap smear and pelvic exam at age 18, or earlier if they are sexually active.

She also notes that families with a child with a chronic condition, such as asthma, cardiac disease, cystic fibrosis, etc., may choose to stay with their pediatrician longer than usual because the doctor really knows the child and his condition and there is a deep connection and continuity of care that may not be easy to re-create with a new doctor. Again, this would be something to discuss with your pediatrician.

Some families have found that their kids are perfectly happy seeing their pediatrician until they leave for college. If your child wants to stay with her pediatrician, you should still prepare her (and yourself) for what will be an evolving relationship with the doctor as she gets older. Mom or Dad will be invited to stay in the examining room less and less. As your daughter heads into the teen years, she will begin to have a more direct relationship with her doctor, and she will want to know that what she discusses with her will remain confidential — just as you’ll want to make sure that the pediatrician is comfortable dealing with teen-related medical issues.

If you do decide to stay with your pediatrician through these years, you might want to check with your doctor regarding whether she will ask your child important questions regarding sleep issues; caffeine consumption; possible use of cigarettes, drugs or alcohol; puberty and sexual issues; and safety issues (use of seat belts and bike helmets, drinking and driving, etc.).


Contributed by Kathy Sena, a freelance journalist who frequently covers kids’ health. Visit her website at www.kathysena.com.

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