In 1938 the American Academy of Pediatrics took formal action and defined the age limits of pediatric practice as follows (Journal of Pediatrics, 13:127 and 13:266, 1938):

The practice of pediatrics begins at birth and extends well into adolescence and in most cases it will terminate between the sixteenth and eighteenth year of life.

In 1969, the Council on Pediatric Practice asked the Executive Board to up date this statement, and the Executive Board referred it to the Council on Child Health. After extensive review of several statements proposed by the Committee on Youth, the Council on Child Health recommended the following statement, which has been approved by the Executive Committee of the Academy for publication as official policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


The purview of pediatrics includes the growth, development, and health of the child and therefore begins in the period prior to birth when conception is apparent. It continues through childhood and adolescence when the growth and developmental processes are generally completed. The responsibility of pediatrics may therefore begin during pregnancy and usually terminates by 21 years of age.

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