Pediatricians are in the unique position of being on the front line of care for children and having access to their families. This article presents both a rationale and the evidence base for identifying the family characteristics and processes that affect child health and suggests approaches that pediatricians can implement to improve the care of children, using data from 3 recent reports of the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, as well as other recent family research. Evidence regarding the impact on child health of 3 family factors in particular (family composition and living arrangements, family routines, and parental depression) is highlighted, and implications for pediatric practice are described.

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