Can I Take My Child to a DO?

You're looking for a new doctor for your child. Does it matter if someone is a “DO” instead of an “MD”?

DO stands for doctor of osteopathic medicine. They can do everything that MDs do, such as prescribe medicine and order blood tests, so it's fine to choose either as your child's doctor. They can also specialize, so there are DOs who are pediatricians and others who serve as family medicine doctors. Both specialties are trained to provide medical care for children.

The training that DOs get has a lot in common with MDs. After 4 years of medical school, osteopathic doctors then do a residency in their chosen area of specialty -- in this case, pediatrics or family practice.

The DO Approach to Pediatrics

Your child’s appointment probably will seem a lot like a visit to an MD. 

Your child’s DO may spend extra time focusing on the whole body rather than just any illness. They may also use a technique called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) along with other medical practices to diagnose and treat many different problems.  DOs are likely to put a lot of emphasis on the prevention of illness and ways to stay healthy.

A DO who uses OMT in her practice might use her hands to check a child's joints, from the bones in his head to his ankles, as part of a routine physical, first visit, or to help diagnose or treat a specific complaint. The doctor might stretch or press on muscles, too.

Some DOs use OMT to help treat asthma, earaches, and colic. So far, only a small number of good studies have looked at the use of OMT in children. The results have been mixed.

Not all DOs use OMT in their medical practice.  So if that’s something you want as part of your child’s health care, ask in advance.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 12, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American Osteopathic Association: "Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment."

HealthyChildren.org: “What is a Pediatric Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?”

Indiana University Bloomington: "Two Kinds of Physicians: Allopathic and Osteopathic."

KidsHealth.org: "What's a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?"

Osteopathic Center for Children: "Osteopathy Defined."

Posadzki, P. Pediatrics, July 2013.

University of Minnesota: "Osteopathic Medicine."

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