Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology


Jeff Ballinger

Young girls with gynecological issues have only one hospital to go to in New York City: the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, which offers a pediatric and adolescent gynecology program.

Many gynecologists will not see patients under 16 or 18 years of age, and only a few doctors specialize in this field for younger girls, says the program’s director, Beth W. Rackow, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and of pediatrics.

Based on the number of young girls needing urgent and nonurgent gynecologic services in the local community and the region, NYP/Columbia recognized the need for comprehensive pediatric and adolescent gynecologic care and opened the program in 2012. The program has grown rapidly since then and now sees more than 50 new patients each month.

Adolescents seek gynecological care for many of the same conditions that older women experience, such as ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, and abnormal menstrual bleeding, but pediatric and adolescent patients can also have more unusual gynecologic conditions that require special expertise to manage. Although most conditions can be managed medically, some conditions require surgery to evaluate and treat the problem.

A big part of Dr. Rackow’s role is making a connection with these young patients. “The most rewarding part of my job is to help a young female understand that what she’s going through is not as scary as she thinks it is and that she’s not alone,” she says.

Dr. Rackow works closely with colleagues in other pediatric divisions to provide a collaborative approach to care that is not typically available in a private practice. “A multidisciplinary approach to complex medical disorders that affect the reproductive system or gynecologic problems that affect other body systems is important when dealing with these young patients.”

Furthermore, the pediatric and adolescent gynecology program is dedicated to increasing the number of practitioners who can evaluate and care for this unique population of patients. It trains residents in obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics as well as fellows in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, and adolescent medicine.

 The hospital plans to expand the program to reach more patients. “We’re looking to provide group counseling for adolescents with specific disorders, including primary ovarian insufficiency and mullerian agenesis (congenital absence of the uterus and vagina), add nutrition services, and add a nurse practitioner to expand our ability to care for these patients,” Dr. Rackow says.

More information is available by calling pediatric and adolescent gynecology at 212-305-1107.