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Bridging the Gap: Delivering Care, Expertise When Girls Need it Most

Krista Childress, MD
As a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist, Dr. Childress treats girls from birth to age 21 years with general and complex gynecologic needs, both medically and surgically, performing minimally invasive surgery when indicated.

Atlanta's only fellowship-trained pediatric gynecologist supports patients and providers with multidisciplinary care.

Krista Childress, MD a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist gets the type of reaction many providers would hope for: 

“One of the first things providers and my patients’ families tell me is how excited they are to meet with me and how long they’ve waited for a pediatric gynecology specialist in the Atlanta area,” she shares. “I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can help so many children, adolescents and their families.

Dr. Childress is one of only two fellowship-trained pediatric gynecologists in the entire state of Georgia, and the only one in the Atlanta area. She came to Atlanta after completing a two-year fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital. Now, she serves as an Assistant Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University and sees patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

As a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist, Dr. Childress treats girls from birth to age 21 with general and complex gynecologic needs, as well as, performs minimally invasive surgery when necessary. She sees patients experiencing a wide-range of endocrine and reproductive disorders, including:

  • Menstrual problems including irregular menses or painful periods
  • Congenital reproductive tract abnormalities
  • Disorders of sexual development, including Turner Syndrome and females with ambiguous genitalia
  • Puberty abnormalities
  • Contraceptive counseling: including insertion of subdermal implants and intrauterine devices
  • Prepubertal and pubertal vulvovaginal problems
  • Ovarian or fallopian tube masses
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Reproductive health concerns of girls with cancer or blood disorders
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Sexually transmitted infections

Serving a need in the community

“Pediatric gynecology is a new and growing field,” says Dr. Childress. “There’s a huge gap in care for children and adolescents experiencing gynecologic issues. OB-GYN training in medical school and residency focuses on adults with some exposure to older adolescents, but often not children and adolescents younger than the age of 15. Because of that, many gynecology providers aren’t as comfortable treating children due to lack of exposure and training in the patient population.”

Dr. Childress’ training has given her unique insight into the needs of her patients, including how to make children and their families feel comfortable during appointments, and the specific gynecologic concerns of children and teens. Baylor offers one of only 13 pediatric and adolescent gynecology fellowships available in the US and Canada. During her time at Baylor, she gained valuable experience treating this patient population both medically and surgically.

“I absolutely loved my fellowship,” Dr. Childress shares. “I truly enjoyed my patients and I love working at a children’s hospital. Gynecology can be very scary to teens and children, and it was a great honor to be that person to have conversations with these young girls to help them understand and feel comfortable with their bodies.”

Changing course after an overheard conversation

Like most healthcare providers, Dr. Childress wasn’t even aware pediatric gynecology was a specialty that could become a career when she started her medical training. She quickly fell in love with obstetrics and gynecology in medical school, and during residency realized her special interest in working with adolescents and managing reproductive tract anomalies.

One day she happened to overhear a conversation about pediatric gynecology and was intrigued by the idea of such a specialty. So, she did what most of us do when we want to learn more about something –

“I Googled it,” she admits. “I started reading about it and became more and more fascinated. I went by myself to a conference hosted by NASPAG, the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, and had an ‘aha’ moment. I also had the opportunity to meet mentors in pediatric gynecology who were excited to support and educate me during my journey in determining the correct career path for me. I feel very fortunate to have had this awesome experience early in my GYN/OB residency training.”

“I realized this specialty combined everything I loved - the ability to focus on specific areas in gynecology that intrigued me the most and the opportunity to work with adolescents and children to help empower and educate them,” she continues.

Delivering comfort and care

Dr. Childress works to put patients and parents at ease at the very beginning of her visits.

“I like to bring smiles and humor to my clinic visits, which I think is a huge advantage of working with children,” she says. “When I first see a patient, I make a point to have conversations with them outside of why they are here to see me. That can really go a long way to help them feel comfortable and see they can trust me, which is really important when you’re talking to a child or adolescent about a topic they may not understand or be embarrassed about.

“I let the child lead the exam,” she continues. “She can guide the conversation and feel in control, which really helps put her at ease. I also always make time to talk alone with my patients. A lot of them are really wondering about their bodies, and don’t know what to do about it, or who to ask.”

Working across disciplines

As Dr. Childress works to develop the pediatric and adolescent gynecology program at Children’s, she has been excited about her colleagues’ enthusiasm about this new specialty and the welcoming environment CHOA and Emory have provided with her transition to Atlanta.

“Pediatric issues are often complex and require a multi-disciplinary approach,” she says. “I work closely with pediatric surgery, endocrinology, urology, hematology and other sub-specialties so that we can look at the child as a whole and fix the entire system, instead of just one thing at a time.”

Dr. Childress strongly believes that the integration of this multidisciplinary approach is why Children’s is able to deliver well-rounded, quality care to children and their families across Atlanta, and the entire state of Georgia.

“Pediatric gynecology is a very new field and the idea of seeing a gynecologist can be scary for parents and children,” she says. “I feel very grateful to have the experience to deliver the care my patients need, and the support of an entire hospital to make sure we are considering every angle and treatment option.”

Focusing on the future

Krista Childress, MD

"Sometimes, when a child or teen is diagnosed with cancer, no one is talking to her about the impact treatments will have on her reproductive health and ability to later have children"

Krista Childress, MD

Dr. Childress is excited about the future of the pediatric and adolescent gynecology program at Children’s. She already has her eye on several projects and goals to expand and improve the multidisciplinary gynecologic care available at Children’s and Emory.

“Starting this summer, I will have Emory residents rotating with me so that they can get the much needed exposure to pediatric gynecology,” she says. “I’m really excited to work with residents to help advance their training and exposure to the field.

Dr. Childress also hopes to continue her work on pediatric fertility preservation by becoming more involved with the fertility preservation teams at CHOA and Emory.

“Sometimes, when a child or teen is diagnosed with cancer, no one is talking to her about the impact treatments will have on her reproductive health and ability to later have children,” she states. “I am very interested in helping grow the outreach to children and their families so they can better understand the impact of their treatments, their fertility preservation options, and improve access to care.”

An Open Door

Dr. Childress encourages parents and providers to contact her with any questions, or to schedule an appointment. She very much looks forward to working with everyone. She can be reached at 404-785-1491 or Learn more about the pediatric and adolescent gynecology services available at Children’s.

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