Pediatric Endocrinologist

If your child has growth issues, puberty issues or any other condition involving their hormones or endocrine system, a pediatric endocrinologist might be who they see. A pediatric endocrinologist specializes in children’s endocrinology, a field of study that includes hormones and how they help your child’s body function properly.

What is a pediatric endocrinologist?

A pediatric endocrinologist is a healthcare provider who specializes in children’s endocrinology, a field of medicine that studies conditions related to your child’s hormones. A pediatric endocrinologist can diagnose and treat endocrine conditions in children and adolescents. They may treat your child if they have issues with puberty, growth, diabetes or other disorders related to their hormones and the glands that produce them.

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What is endocrinology?

Endocrinology is the study of the endocrine system, which is made up of the endocrine glands, endocrine organs and hormones.

Endocrine glands

The endocrine glands are special tissues in your child’s body that produce and release hormones. Endocrine glands include:

Endocrine organs

Endocrine organs perform specific functions in your child’s body. Endocrine organs include:

Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers that travel from one endocrine gland or organ in your child’s body to another through their blood. Hormones play a key role in many bodily functions, including:

What’s the difference between a pediatric endocrinologist and a general endocrinologist?

Pediatric endocrinologists have extensive training in treating children and adolescents with hormonal issues and endocrine disorders. Children aren’t just small adults. The types of hormone problems that arise in children are very different from those that develop in adults. Pediatric endocrinologists have specialized training in pediatric endocrine conditions as they relate to your child’s development and growth.

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What does a pediatric endocrinologist do?

A pediatric endocrinologist diagnoses, treats and manages many different conditions that may affect your child’s endocrine system.

Adrenal gland disorders

A pediatric endocrinologist can diagnose and treat conditions related to your child’s adrenal glands. Adrenal glands produce many important hormones. Conditions concerning adrenal glands may include:

  • Addison’s disease: A condition in which your child’s body doesn’t produce enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: A genetic condition affecting your child’s production of cortisol, aldosterone and androgen.
  • Cushing syndrome: Also called hypercortisolism, this condition occurs when your child’s body produces too much cortisol.

Bone and calcium conditions

Many hormones affect your child’s bone metabolism and calcium levels. Conditions concerning bone and calcium health may include:

  • Hypercalcemia: A condition that occurs when your child has higher-than-normal levels of calcium in their blood.
  • Hypocalcemia: A condition that occurs when your child has lower-than-normal levels of calcium in their blood.
  • Rickets: A disease that occurs due to a vitamin D deficiency.

Diabetes and metabolic conditions

A pediatric endocrinologist can develop treatment plans for metabolic conditions. A very common metabolic condition is diabetes. Types of diabetes and other metabolic conditions that may affect your child include:

  • Type 1 diabetes: A condition that occurs when your child’s pancreas can no longer produce insulin because of an autoimmune attack.
  • Type 2 diabetes: A condition that occurs when your child’s body isn’t properly using the insulin their pancreas produces.
  • Obesity: A complex, chronic condition that leads to excessive body fat and, sometimes, poor health.

Disorders of sex development

A pediatric endocrinologist can diagnose and treat conditions related to disorders of sex development, such as:

  • Atypical genitalia: A rare genetic condition in which your child’s external genitals don’t look typically male or typically female but somewhere in the middle.
  • Gender dysphoria: A disorder in which differences between someone’s gender identity and appearance cause emotional stress.

Genetic endocrine disorders

A pediatric endocrinologist can diagnose and treat conditions related to genetic endocrine disorders, such as:

  • Turner syndrome: A condition that affects females in which one of the two X chromosomes is completely or partially missing.
  • Prader-Willi syndrome: A condition that affects your child’s metabolism and results in changes to their body and behavior.

Growth and puberty

Many hormones affect your child’s growth and development. Conditions concerning growth and puberty issues may include:

  • Short stature: A condition in which your child is shorter than at least 95% of other children of the same sex and age.
  • Early (precocious) puberty: A condition that occurs when the physical signs of puberty occur much earlier than usual.
  • Delayed puberty: A condition that occurs when the physical signs of puberty occur much later than usual.

Pituitary gland disorders

A pediatric endocrinologist can diagnose and treat conditions related to your child’s pituitary gland. The pituitary gland makes many important hormones. Conditions concerning the pituitary gland may include:

  • Diabetes insipidus: A disorder in which your child’s body makes too much pee (urine) and can’t properly retain water.
  • Hypopituitarism: A condition that occurs when your child’s pituitary gland makes lower than normal levels of hormones, which can cause issues with growth, the thyroid, adrenal, puberty and thirst.

Thyroid conditions

Pediatric endocrinologists can treat any medical condition that keeps your child’s thyroid gland from producing the right amount of hormones. Conditions that can affect how your child’s thyroid gland functions include:

  • Goiter: A condition in which your child’s thyroid gland grows larger than normal.
  • Hypothyroidism: A disorder in which your child’s thyroid gland doesn’t release enough thyroid hormone into their bloodstream.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition in which your child’s thyroid gland makes and releases too much thyroid hormone into their bloodstream.

What should my child expect at their first pediatric endocrinologist appointment?

At your child’s first endocrinology appointment, you can expect their pediatric endocrinologist to ask you thorough questions about your child’s symptoms, medical history and any current medications they’re taking. They may also perform a physical exam.

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How do you become a pediatric endocrinologist?

Pediatric endocrinologists are medical doctors who first begin a specialization in pediatrics.

After four years of medical school, a pediatric endocrinologist must complete a three-year residency program in general pediatrics. After a residency, they must complete a three-year fellowship in pediatric endocrinology. The fellowship is an intensive training program that focuses specifically on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions within the field of endocrinology. In the United States, the fellowship must be a program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

To become a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist, you must first get certification in general pediatrics from the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). Then, you can get certified in the subspecialty of pediatric endocrinology. Board certification is voluntary, but it’s a level of recognition that lets the public know you hold a standard of excellence.

What is the average salary of a pediatric endocrinologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a pediatrician was $198,420 in 2021.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If your child has a condition that affects their endocrine system, a pediatric endocrinologist can help manage and treat it. They’re experts in their field and have the latest information on the technology, procedures and medications that can help your child. If your child needs more specialized care, their pediatrician will refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/07/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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