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7 Inspiring Pediatricians

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What if your baby’s pediatrician was truly a hero? We scoured the country for the most innovative and inspiring doctors who spend long days pushing boundaries in the hopes of providing the highest possible care to our most precious resources. Allow us to introduce you to a few of the pediatricians who’ve touched (and simply stolen) our hearts.

The Fetal Spina Bifida Surgeon: N. Scott Adzick M.D., general pediatric and fetal surgeon, surgeon-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Finding out your baby has spina bifida is devastating not only because it carries lifelong health consequences for as many as 2,000 children diagnosed annually but because there are limited treatment options. Not so anymore. Thanks to the incredible work of Dr. Adzick, parents now have the opportunity to treat spina bifida in utero, giving their babies a much improved quality of life. Just a few years ago, spina bifida surgery was a radical idea, but after countless hours of collaboration and a successful research trial, Dr. Adzick brought the idea to reality. Dr. Adzick has also developed fetal surgical techniques to save babies with life-threatening birth defects.

The Breastfeeding Cheerleader: Nancy Brent M.D., pediatrician, lactation consultant and medical director of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh 

The stress of caring for a newborn amid the throes of hormones and fatigue can make it hard to cope with breastfeeding problems. Dr. Brent, a mother of five, keenly understands the difficulty moms face when breastfeeding doesn’t go smoothly. She formed a group of young pediatricians, armed them with expert breastfeeding knowledge and opened a practice designed to support nursing mothers. No matter which doc a mom sees regularly, she can set up an appointment with Dr. Brent’s team for a breastfeeding consult. Research has shown that most docs don’t feel they have time to address breastfeeding issues. Dr. Brent’s nationally recognized approach brings hard-tofind lactation expertise directly to the moms who need it.

The Prenatal Pioneer: Ruben Quintero M.D., director of the Fetal Therapy Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Hospital Center and the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

A pioneer when it comes to fetal surgery, the list of “firsts” credited to Dr. Quintero is as extensive as his training. The Venezuelan-born doctor worked relentlessly to develop new techniques, including the use of endoscopy in utero to treat heart problems or organ obstructions, to help the most fragile and delicate of patients. Dr. Quintero didn’t let the lack of surgical instruments suited to fetal surgery stop him. He developed his own. In addition to performing the first successful surgical removal of an undeveloped twin from a healthy fetus, Dr. Quintero recently removed a tumor from the mouth of a fetus who would otherwise not have made it to term inside her mother’s womb.

The Access-for-All Advocate: Tumaini Rucker Coker M.D., pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the David Gefen School of Medicine at UCLA and Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA

Children who live in poverty are at risk of missing out on important preventative care, but Dr. Coker works tirelessly to come up with creative solutions to make sure these kids aren’t neglected. Her goal is to find new ways to bring pediatric care to under-served patients. For her, that means making stops to see patients at daycare centers, grocery stores and even home visits to help as many children as possible get the medical attention, including well visits and vaccinations, they need. She is currently implementing these ideas through a five-year study from the National Institutes of Health with hopes of sharing successful strategies to doctors across the country.

The Behavior Specialist: Sherri Alderman M.D., board-certi?ed developmental behavioral pediatrician with the Artz Center for Developmental Health and medical director for the Oregon Pediatric Society Screening Tools and Referral Training program 

How does one doctor manage to treat thousands of children with behavioral and developmental problems? By training 1,500 medical professionals in gold-standard screening techniques. As the medical director of a training program for pediatric screening in Oregon, Dr. Alderman helps identify issues like autism at an early stage. The sooner children are diagnosed and treated, the better the chances they will see improvement. Dr. Alderman expanded the program to screen for maternal depression, which can make a profound impact on a child’s health and well-being — not to mention the mother’s — if treated early. In just three years, trainees performed 4,112 well-child visits during which they administered nearly 3,000 screening tests.

The Kidney Doc: Patrick Brophy M.D., pediatric nephrologist and director of the division of pediatric nephrology, dialysis and transplantation with University of Iowa Children’s Hospital

When a young Dr. Brophy was on rounds during his residency, he was shocked to learn the treatments offered to children suffering kidney diseases were the same as those used to treat adults. Unlike adults, kidney failure affects bone development in children, and special care is needed to ensure the youngsters develop properly. Dr. Brophy focused his fellowship on pediatric nephrology, developing techniques tailored to the smallest patients, including using adapted machines to provide dialysis for premature babies. Kidney patients often face a neverending cycle of treatment, medication and dialysis, and yet there is a distinct lack of dedicated facilities for children. Dr. Brophy’s nephrology center is a lifeline for tiny kidney patients and their families.

The Vaccine Champion: Christopher Cunha M.D., pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Crestview Hills, Kentucky

Do kids need vaccines? The answer, of course, is yes, but thanks to scare campaigns, confusing media reports and a growing sense of complacency about their value, it’s no wonder parents may not know how to answer that question. But if the recent upswing in whooping cough is any indication, we not only need vaccines, we need the vigilance of doctors like Dr. Cunha to ensure that parents understand their vital importance. Dr. Cunha’s stalwart support of vaccines through his speeches about vaccine myths and fears at community events in his area as well as by providing immunizations in under-served schools led the Centers for Disease Control to honor him with a Childhood Immunization Champion award. But Dr. Cunha’s impact isn’t limited to his practice in Kentucky; his patients participate in research studies to develop new vaccines to help children nationwide.