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American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is an American professional association of pediatricians, headquartered in Itasca, Illinois. It maintains its Department of Federal Affairs office in Washington, D.C.

It has the largest pediatric publishing program in the world, with more than 300 titles for consumers and over 500 titles for physicians and other health-care professionals. These publications include electronic products, professional references/textbooks, practice management publications, patient education materials and parenting books.

The AAP periodically issues guidance for child passenger safety, including policy recommendations for transitioning between rear-facing car seats, front-facing car seats, belt-positioning booster car seats, and vehicle safety belts. These recommendations are typically published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Pediatrics, and tend to attract attention and controversy in popular press and social media.

In a 2012 position statement, the academy stated that a systematic evaluation of the medical literature shows that the "preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure" and that the health benefits "are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns," but "are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns". The academy takes the position that parents should make the final decision about circumcision, after appropriate information is gathered about the risks and benefits of the procedure. The 2012 statement is a shift in the academy's position from its 1999 statement in that the academy says the health benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks, and supports having the procedure covered by insurance.

In April 2010, the academy revised its policy statement on female genital cutting, with one part of the new policy proving controversial. Although condemning female genital cutting overall, this statement suggested that current federal law banning the practice had the unintended consequence of driving families to perform the procedures in other countries, where these girls faced increased risk. As a possible compromise, this policy statement suggested that physicians have the option to perform a ceremonial "nick" on girls as a last resort to prevent them from being sent overseas for full circumcision. This particular position proved controversial to advocates for a full ban on female genital cutting under any circumstances and concern from other medical groups that even a "nick" would be condoning this widely rejected procedure. One month later, the academy retracted this policy statement.

Recognizing that insufficient sleep in adolescents is an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as academic success, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.59.5 hours) and to improve physical and mental health, safety, academic performance, and quality of life. Although the AAP acknowledges that numerous factors may impair the amount and/or quality of sleep in adolescents - among them, biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands - it considers school start times before 8:30 a.m. ("earlier school start times") to be a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, together with circadian rhythm disruption. It also recognizes that a substantial body of research has demonstrated that delaying the start of the school day is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to the physical and mental health, safety, and academic achievement of students - including reduced obesity risk, rates of depression, and drowsy driving crashes as well as improved academic performance and quality of life.

The AAP opposes legalization of marijuana, citing potential harms to children and adolescents. The Academy also opposes medical marijuana "outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration." In states that have already legalized marijuana, the Academy recommends that pediatricians and regulators treat it as they would tobacco. The Academy does support "decriminalization" of marijuana -- reductions in the penalties for its use and possession -- in combination with an increased commitment to substance-abuse treatment. The Academy also recommends changing marijuana from a DEA Schedule 1 to a DEA Schedule 2 to facilitate research into pharmaceutical uses.