How Do You Know When Your Kids Are Too Old for the Pediatrician?

Dr. Natalie Azar recently spoke with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today about the importance of seeing the type of doctor that is right for your age group. She made clear that each person should seek care that is both medically and developmentally appropriate for every stage of life.

While pediatricians are trained and able to handle cholesterol and obesity screening well into a person’s 21st year, children’s doctors cannot offer the type of care that everyone needs once they hit their early 20s. For example, women need cervical cancer screenings beginning at age 21. Other people might suffer from an autoimmune disorder or kidney disease, and require the attention of a specialist.

Dr. Azar recommended beginning the transition to either an internist (who handles adults) or a family practitioner (who can care for people throughout the course of their lives) somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21. She mentioned that good reasons to find a new doctor and “break up” with your pediatrician might be because you’re moving (which many people do when they go to college), when your insurance changes, when you’re starting a family, or when you need a specialist.