The branch of medicine that deals with the care of children and adolescents is pediatrics. This term has roots in the Greek word pedo pais (a child) and iatros (healer). Pediatrics covers the age group less than 18 yr of age.
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A physician who specializes in health care of children and adolescents is a pediatrician. The goal of the specialty is to enable a child to survive, remain healthy, and attain the highest possible potential of growth, development and intellectual achievement. Child health encompasses approaches, interventions and strategies that preserve, protect, promote and restore health of children at individual and population level. Children under 15 yr of age comprise about 30% of India’s population.
Childhood is the state when the human being is growing and developing. It is time to acquire habits, values and lifestyles that would make children responsible adults and citizens. The family, society and nation are dutybound to make children feel secure, cared for, and protected from exploitation, violence and societal ills. Female children face gender bias in access to healthcare and nutrition. A civilized society nurtures all its children, girls and boys alike, with love, generosity and benevolence. Child is not a miniature adult. The principles of adult medicine cannot be directly adapted to children. Pediatric biology is unique and risk factors of pediatric disease are distinct. Clinical manifestations of childhood diseases may be different from adults. Indeed, many disorders are unique to children. Drug dosages in children are specific and not a mathematical derivation of the adult doses. Nutrition is a critical necessity for children not only to sustain life, but to ensure their growth and development.
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