There is an insufficient number of specialty developmental-behavioral pediatrics (DBP) physicians, despite nearly 25% of children and adolescents having a developmental, learning, behavioral, or emotional problem. In the nearly 20 years since becoming a board-certified subspecialty, the definition of DBP clinical practice remains somewhat unclear. This lack of clarity likely contributes to recruitment challenges and workforce issues, and limited visibility of DBP among parents, other professionals, payors, and administrators. Defining DBP is therefore an important step in the survival and growth of the field. In this paper, we describe the methodology used to develop this definition along with the origins of DBP, the persistent challenges to defining its scope, what training in DBP involves, and what distinguishes DBP from other overlapping fields of medicine. We propose the following definition of DBP: developmental-behavioral pediatrics (DBP) is a board-certified, medical subspecialty that cares for children with complex and severe DBP problems by recognizing the multifaceted influences on the development and behavior of children and addressing them through systems-based practice and a neurodevelopmental, strength-based approach that optimizes functioning. Developmental behavioral pediatricians care for children from birth through young adulthood along a continuum including those suspected of, at risk for, or known to have developmental and behavioral disorders.
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