How Old Should You Be When You Stop Going To A Pediatrician?

adolescent care nj

How Old Should You Be When You Stop Going To A Pediatrician?

When you’re young your body goes through a lot of changes. Your doctor can be a supportive, guiding and nurturing presence who helps you to keep in good health as you grow. But if you’re still seeing a pediatrician in your teens you may worry that they’re no longer able to give you the care that you need. Likewise, if you’re the parent of a teen you may wonder which kind of doctor is most likely to give them the care they need. The waters can be muddied if they have a pediatrician with whom they have a good relationship and substantial trust.

Here we’ll help to advise adolescent patients and their parents on when’s the right time to switch from a pediatrician to a General Practitioner or specialist.

What’s the right age to switch doctors?

The recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that patients should stop seeing their pediatrician at 21 years old. This age was increased from the age of 18 in 1969 (an age that had been the standard since 1938). This was because certain conditions like sickle cell disease can affect young people even when they get into their twenties.

That said, there are many patients that can and do continue to see their pediatrician once they’re all grown up.

Can kids continue to see the same doctor in adulthood?

The AAP’s recommendation is just that- a recommendation. There’s no law prohibiting patients from seeing the same doctor in their adult life that they’ve known throughout childhood and adolescence. However, some pediatrics practices will automatically refuse to see patients over the age of 18 while some insurers will also mandate that a patient needs to transfer to a GP after reaching the age of 18.

Why might an adult patient continue to see their pediatrician?

There are some conditions where it may be more appropriate for a young adult to continue to see their pediatrician post-18. Many college bound teens, for instance, continue to see their pediatrician for checkups and or sick visits because they’re not ready to face the stress of looking for a new doctor, especially if they have no idea where they’ll be living when they graduate.

Likewise, there are many with congenital defects such as heart conditions or cystic fibrosis who may find it too stressful or challenging to transition away from a doctor they trust. The same goes for patients with developmental or neurological conditions for whom such a disruption might be damaging.

What conditions are best dealt with by other doctors?

By rule of thumb, a patient should look for care outside of their pediatrician when they start to experience health conditions typically associated with adults such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes. Here they will almost certainly get a better standard of care from a specialist and / or GP.

How can we help?

As your local pediatrician in Nutley, NJ we can help with all aspects of pediatric care. As well as providing the highest standard of pediatric care we can assist patients and parents in all aspects of transitioning from pediatrics to general care. If you’d like to contact us about any aspect of this transition please don’t hesitate to contact us today!


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