What is the Difference Between Adult and Pediatric Neurology?
Neurology involves the structure, functions, and organic disorders of the brain and nervous system. Neurologists are medical doctors who have specialized training in the diagnosis, treatment and handling of dysfunctions of the brain and nervous system that can cause physical and psychological symptoms. Brain development starts in pregnancy and continues evolving through infancy. The vast majority of brain cells are created before birth, but the massive numbers of connections between nerve cells occur during infancy. Pediatric neurology differs from adult neurology, because in children, the brain is still growing and developing, and neurological disorders present differently than those of adults. Pediatric neurologists have special training in diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain and nervous system of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents who exhibit varying symptoms, depending on the child’s age and developmental stage.
Education and Training
Along with an undergraduate degree, all neurologists have completed four years of medical school, a year internship, and a minimum of three years of specialized training. Pediatric neurologists have fulfilled all the requirements for neurology certification, plus completed two years of accredited training in pediatrics
When to See a Pediatric Neurologist
Neurological signs of disorders in children differ. Some may be physical, others impact behavior, emotion, or cognitive functions. A number of neurological disorders can be identified at birth, while others are diagnosed only after alarming symptoms become noticeable. Following is a list of the most common conditions seen by pediatric neurologists.
In the majority of cases, headaches in children are caused by common short-term ailments, including a cold or the flu. In these cases, the headaches are not linked to a serious underlying condition. Children should be evaluated if headaches occur after a head injury, or when the headaches:
- Severely incapacitate the child
- Occur more and more frequently
- Wake your child up from sleep
- Cause vomiting
- Disrupt vision
- Are accompanied with fever, or neck stiffness and pain
- Seizure Disorders
Seizures involve a temporary loss of control that is often accompanied with convulsion and/or unconsciousness. Infants and children should see a pediatric neurologist after the first occurrence of any seizure, particularly if the child does not have a fever or infection. It is exceptionally important to see a specialist if the seizures last more than five minutes, or occur frequently. Epileptic seizures are caused by precipitous abnormal electrical discharges in the brain, and are the most common serious neurological condition found in children. It is often difficult to diagnose the seizures in children because they are very different from adult seizure activity, and vary depending on the age of the child. An experienced pediatric neurologist will be able to determine an accurate diagnosis, and select the most beneficial treatment.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASD is the term for a group of multifaceted neurodevelopment disorders typified by lack of communication and interaction with others, and engagement in repetitive behaviors. The defining characteristics of ASD are usually evident from early childhood, and significantly inhibit the child’s ability to function. See a pediatric neurologist when a child is exhibiting the following behaviors:
- Doesn’t babble or point by age one
- Avoids eye contact
- Does not smile or respond socially
- Rigidly lines up objects and toys
Although there is no cure for ASD, symptoms can be substantially improved with therapy and behavioral interventions. Studies show that the earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis for change.
If you are concerned about your child in NYC, call trained pediatric neurologist Dr. Maja Ilic at Complete Neurological Care. Dr. Ilic specializes in caring for children with any condition related to the brain and nervous system. Book an appointment today.