P: What Is A Paediatrician?

26/02/2010 17:03 | Updated 22 May 2015

A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in the care of children, from newborns through to adolescents.

All newborn babies will be examined by a paediatrician shortly after their birth. Additionally, a paediatrician will be in attendance at the birth if an instrumental delivery is required, or if the baby is showing signs of distress.

The standard checks that a paediatrician undertakes with a newborn include examining the shape of the head as well as the mouth to check for conditions such as cleft palate; checking the eyes and ears for signs of any obvious problems; and listening to the heart and lungs to check that both are functioning correctly.

The baby's hands and feet will be examined for webbing of the toes or fingers, or other conditions such as talipes (club foot). The spine baby's spine will also be assessed for straightness.

The paediatrician will also manipulate the baby's hips to determine the stability of the joints, as well as check for a condition known as clicky hips, which causes the hip socket to dislocate.

Alongside physical tests, other checks are carried out including examining the skin for birth marks, and testing the baby's sucking, rooting and grasping reflexes. The genitals will also be checked over.

If the paediatrician does detect any issues, further examinations and tests will be carried out and an appropriate course of action decided.

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