The care and treatment of children. Child health is the purview of pediatrics, which became a medical specialty in the mid-nineteenth century. Before that time the care and treatment of childhood diseases were included within such areas as general medicine, obstetrics, and midwifery. Childrens health was once a subset of adult medicine. In the 19th and early 20th century, people recognized pediatrics as a medical specialty because of the gradual awareness that the health problems of children are different from those of adults. It was also recognized that a childs response to illness, medications, and the environment depends upon the age of the child. A healthy childs development actually begins before conception with the parents health and their genetic legacy. It continues on to conception and through the prenatal period. During this time, there is naturally considerable overlap between pediatric concerns for the fetus and obstetrical concerns for the mother.