Pediatric endocrinologists treat children for hormone disorders, or disorders of the endocrine system, which is the body's network of glands - hormones regulate vital functions such as growth.

Watch an Overview of Pediatric Endocrinology

About Pediatric Endocrinology

Pediatric endocrinology is a medical specialty that provides care to infants, children and adolescents that suffer from diseases and disorders of, or affecting, the endocrine system. Physicians that practice within this specialty are known as pediatric endocrinologists; these physicians are experts in the study of hormones in children, and the related conditions that can be aggravated or induced by hormonal imbalances or disorders. Pediatric endocrinology can be much different than general endocrinology, and pediatric endocrinologists are trained to account for these variables in care.

As children develop, their hormones play a leading role. As such, children may need to visit a pediatric endocrinologist for a wide range of reasons and symptoms. For example, children suffering from complications relating to diabetes, obesity, puberty, growth problems, over- or under-active glands, among many other conditions. Pediatric endocrinologists often specialize within a certain area, such as diabetes or obesity.

Pediatric endocrinologists may be found working in a variety of different environments, such as clinics, children’s or community hospitals and private practice, among others. When these physicians are not diagnosing and treating patients, some can be found performing research or studies in an attempt at advancing their own knowledge, and advancing the specialty as a whole.

Pediatric Endocrinology Education & Training

Pediatric endocrinologists must complete a demanding educational path before they are able to be certified as specialists in their field. Education begins with the completion of a four year bachelor’s degree, usually concentrated on the sciences, before entering medical school. During medical school, the student is exposed to the provision of general medical care during four years of laboratory, classroom and clinical training. Following graduation from medical school, the physician must complete a residency program in pediatrics.

During three years of residency training in pediatrics, the physician begins to diagnose and treat children suffering from a wide range of complications and illnesses. While under the supervision of experienced doctors, the resident physician will become acquainted with the nuances of pediatric care, including the interactions with both children and parents. By completing clinical rotations, the resident is exposed to a wide variety of medical situations that will be encountered when treating patients in the field.

After residency training, the physician must complete a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology. During the fellowship, the physician will receive expert training in the treatment of metabolic and related disorders, including diabetes. While under the supervision of an experienced faculty, fellows are offered the opportunity to conduct both basic and clinical science research in addition to any clinical training in the field of pediatric endocrinology. Following three years of fellowship training, the physician has completed the requirements to begin practicing in the field as a pediatric endocrinologist; these physicians often seek board certification in Pediatric Endocrinology from the American Board of Pediatrics.