Introduction to Pediatric Integrative Medicine
Children are born with a natural capacity to thrive, ideally supported by parents who provide food, shelter, companionship, education, and unconditional love. The clinician’s role has historically been that of trusted guide and dedicated child advocate in the medical arena. Rapid changes in the business of medicine and an emphasis on productivity over patient-centered care have stripped pediatric practice of some of its richness, resulting in a lost sense of collaboration for many clinicians. Parents have been similarly affected by the “commercialization” of medicine and seek a deeper connection with providers who can deliver more personalized care, expanded treatment options, and accurate information about emerging therapies that may improve their child’s health. Pediatric integrative medicine can serve to reconnect clinician, child, and parent and can be defined as a modern approach to children’s health in that it respects the strengths of conventional medicine while embracing emerging research in preventive health and management of chronic illness. The field includes topics such as nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management, mental health, environmental influences, and social relationships across every stage of development. One of the newest concepts in the field is inter-professionalism, which emphasizes the value of an interdisciplinary team approach. The practice of pediatric integrative medicine has potential to bring the heart back to pediatric practice by creating a child-centered model of care, infusing the medical encounter with forward looking, evidence-based therapies, and prioritizing health across the lifespan.