No kidding: Some adults continue to see their pediatrician

A pediatrician and his patient
There are various reasons why adults continue to see a pediatrician. (Getty/shironosov)

There was a time when Jeff Vetor, who is 46, and his baby son had the same doctor—a pediatrician.

Like some people with a lifelong condition, Vetor, who has been treated for a congenital heart defect since childhood, has chosen to continue to see a pediatrician and still gets care at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, according to STAT. Adult patients keep their pediatricians for a variety of reasons, from wanting to remain with the familiar to lacking the time to shop for a new doctor, the article notes. 

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But adult patients present some unfamiliar challenges for pediatricians, as FierceHealthcare has reported. Pediatricians must get comfortable talking to patients about adult topics, such as birth control and STDs.

There are no rules for when a patient must make the switch from a pediatrician, although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that patients end pediatric care at the age of 21.

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Advances in medicine mean that young patients are surviving longer and as adults have outgrown their pediatrician, Irene Sage, spokesperson at Boston Children’s Hospital, told STAT. To help ease that transition, some hospitals, such as Seattle Children’s Hospital, have developed programs that help patients as young as 12 get to know doctors who treat adults.