As he reflects on the changes Pediatrics has undergone over the last 75 years, Editor in Chief Lewis R. First, M.D., M.Sc., FAAP, said its mission remains the same: to publish high-quality, evidence-based clinical research that will improve outcomes for children and families and advance the field of pediatrics.
“Pediatricians for three-quarters of a century have turned to this journal to figure out what they need to know to be better at what they do and, in turn, improve the health of children,” Dr. First said.
As the AAP’s flagship journal marks its 75th anniversary, Dr. First said he and Deputy Editor Alex R. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., FAAP, are committed to maintaining the central role the journal plays in promoting improvement in clinical practice.
Beginning in 1932, the AAP partnered with C.V. Mosby to publish the Journal of Pediatrics. That changed in 1947 when the AAP began its own journal, Pediatrics, to have editorial control so it could meet members’ needs and spread innovations in the field rapidly.
Volume 1, number 1 of Pediatrics was published in January 1948 under the leadership of Hugh McCulloch, M.D., FAAP, former co-editor of the Journal of Pediatrics. The issue contained original articles, AAP proceedings and reports, special features and advertising. It launched with a modest 2,200 subscribers.
A series of letters/articles titled “Pediatrics and the Public” were under the editorship of Edwards “Ned” A. Park, M.D., FAAP. An early column focused on a prepaid medical care plan, with authors focusing on how best to meet the needs of children and families.
“The journal had a lot of interest in social issues,” said Jeffrey P. Baker, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Historical Archives Advisory Committee. “This was controversial stuff to write about.”
In 1948, the Truman administration had proposed national health insurance, which the American Medical Association was adamantly against, Dr. Baker said. The editors of Pediatrics, however, published articles that promoted a role for the federal government in health care financing, which Dr. Baker said was “quite controversial and courageous.”
Pediatrics now has more than 67,000 print subscribers from 116 countries and territories, with more than 65,000 in North America. It also has 11 million online readers annually, compared to just 20,000 when it marked its 50th anniversary in 1998.
The number of manuscripts submitted for consideration rose more than three-fold over the past 25 years, from 1,371 in 1998 to 5,653 in 2022. In 1998, there were 20,276 citations in peer-reviewed journals to articles published in Pediatrics in 1996 and 1997. The two-year lookback for citations in 2022 was 101,828, a more than four-fold increase. Pediatrics continues to be the most cited journal in the field of pediatrics.
Since 1975, selected articles from the journal have been translated and published by leading organizations devoted to the dissemination of medical information.
“The growth and development of our journal has really paralleled the growth and development of our field itself,” Dr. First said.
Pediatrics now posts blogs each week on newly published articles, has a monthly segment on the AAP Pediatrics On Call podcast, which also features interviews with authors of recent studies and policy statements, and an Instagram account with more than 40,000 followers who can learn about new journal content.
In late 2022, a section called “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice” was added under the guidance of Associate Editor Kimberly Montez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP. It aims to educate pediatricians on how they can continue to work to promote wellness for all patients and families.
“The changes we made in this journal reflect a collaborative effort,” Dr. First said. “They’ve come from our readers and our editorial board who help us shape our journal so that it continues to evolve year after year to meet the current needs of the clinicians who can apply directly what they learn to the care they deliver to children and their families. That’s what Pediatrics is all about.”
Dr. First said the editorial board is committed to publishing articles that provide a range of perspectives on how to promote child health and wellness. Manuscripts that can influence child health and well-being, including articles that address policy, are welcome from those in training and new pediatricians as well as those in other countries.
“We want new authors to consider us for their work,” he said. “Although we receive many more submissions than we can publish, we are committed to a peer-review process that can help authors improve their work, even if we are not able to accept it.”
The editorial team also has accelerated the time it takes for review and publication of papers. Fifteen years ago, it could take 18 months from the time of submission to publication. The timeframe has decreased to as little as three to four months and can be even faster for time-sensitive information. For example, articles related to COVID-19 have been made available online within one week of acceptance.
As he looks ahead, Dr. First said the editorial board and staff are committed to continuous improvement for decades to come.
“Pediatrics has always been about people — the editors, reviewers and readers whose passion, commitment, enthusiasm and excitement about where child health is going are what inspire each issue to be better than the next,” Dr. First said. “Pediatrics is dedicated to its mission of publishing the highest-quality, evidence-based clinical research we possibly can — and with our many changes over the years, that mission is fixed and unchanging.”
Marking 75 years
Readers can visit a special Pediatrics anniversary page at https://bit.ly/3Js4ddd. The page includes a video introduction from Editor in Chief Lewis R. First, M.D., M.Sc., FAAP, and new content is expected to be added each month.
Special anniversary projects will be released throughout the year, such as lists and descriptions of the most influential articles published in Pediatrics identified by AAP sections, councils and committees.
A celebration will take place in October at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Washington, D.C.