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Medical specialty dealing with the development, health, and diseases of children. It became a specialized area of study in the 18th century, when the first children's hospitals were founded. Early pediatricians studied childhood diseases (seeThomas Sydenham) but could do little to cure them. By the mid-20th century, when antibiotics and vaccines had controlled most of these diseases in the developed world and infant and child mortality had fallen, pediatrics changed its focus to normal growth and child development. Recently, behavioral and social aspects of children's health have been incorporated.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pediatrics, visit Britannica.com.