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Children became the focus of separate medical care during the 18th century in Europe. Children's health care became a recognized medical specialty during the early 19th century, and by the middle of the 19th century, pediatrics was taught separately in medical schools. The first pediatric clinic in the United States opened in New York City in 1862. About that same time, several children's hospitals opened in Europe.

Studies focused on developing treatments for infectious diseases of childhood such as measles and scarlet fever. By the beginning of the 20th century, pediatricians began promoting the normal growth and development of children. Well-child clinics began to open around the United States.

Some of the most significant breakthroughs in children's health care have been in disease prevention. By the middle of the 20th century, the development of vaccines and antibiotics greatly decreased the threat of infectious diseases.

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