From the desk of Doc Smo: Pediatric Practice, the New Frontier (article)

I get a lot of reading material each week, way more than I can possibly digest with a full time job and a cutting edge blog to run. On Sunday, I received a newsletter from the Center for Disease Control with recent information that they have collected and published. I also get various pediatric new journals, including the journal Pediatrics, as part of my membership to the Academy of Pediatrics. While diving into these publications this week, I was struck by the number of articles that revolve around mental health issues. I went into the practice of pediatrics because I really enjoyed the practice of infectious disease. Pediatrics was an infectious disease specialty when I signed up for duty. Not any more; it seems to be evolving into a mental health specialty. Let me give you a flavor of some of the information that is coming at pediatricians these days:

Pediatrics, November 2011
“Media, Profanity, and Aggression”
“‘Action signs’ for Child Behavioral Health Problems”
“Shyness vs. social phobia”
“School Nurse Treatment of Adolescent Smoking”
“Correlates of Sedentary Behavior in Preschool Children”
“ADHD: Clinical Practice Guideline”
“Media Use by Children Younger than Two Years of Age”

The Mortality and Morbidity Newsletter from the CDC, January 2012
“Quick Stats- Depression in the population divided by age”

Pediatric News, December 2011
“Don’t Let Comorbidities Keep Obese Child on the Couch”
“15 Minute Interview for Serious Mental Disorders”
“Teen Behavior Involving Sexting Varies Widely”

The shift in pediatric practice from infectious disease to a mental health is undeniable. Fortunately, I feel that I am much better equipped to advise families with regards to behavioral issues now that I have 30 years of pediatric experience under my belt. Those families that I tried to help 30 years ago didn’t get as much bang for their buck. We were simply not trained or prepared to help families with behavioral problems, let alone families encountering true mental illness. If things keep going in the direction that I am seeing, the next generation of pediatricians better get ready for an ever-increasing amount of childhood anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, developmental disorders, and autism. Hopefully they will up to the challenge.