Pediatric Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms

Pediatric Health Literacy

Learning these abbreviations can help improve your health literacy.
Learning these abbreviations can help improve your health literacy. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Pediatric Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms A-to-F

The use of medical abbreviations and acronyms can sometimes make it hard to read and understand medical and parenting books, your pediatrician's directions, prescriptions, etc. Learn some of the more commonly used pediatric medical abbreviations and acronyms that your doctor may use.

Of course, avoiding the use of abbreviations and acronyms, unless they are first defined, is the best way to improve health literacy and avoid confusion.

  • AA: Alcoholics Anonymous
  • AA: aplastic anemia
  • AAP: American Academy of Pediatrics
  • AACAP: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • ABG: arterial blood gas
  • ABR: auditory brainstem response
  • ACIP: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
  • ADHD: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • AGA: appropriate for gestational age
  • AIDS: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • ALD: adrenoleukodystrophy
  • ALL: acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • ALT: alanine aminotransferase
  • AMN: adrenomyeloneuropathy
  • ANLL: acute nonlymphocytic leukemia
  • AOM: acute otitis media
  • APLS: advanced pediatric life support
  • ARA: arachidonic acid
  • ARDS: acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • ARF: acute rheumatic fever
  • ASD: autism spectrum disorder
  • ASO: antistreptolysin O
  • AST: aspartate aminotransferase
  • BCG: bacillus Camille-Guerin
  • BiPAP: bilevel positive airway pressure
  • BMI: body mass index
  • BP: blood pressure
  • BPA: Bisphenol A
  • BPD: bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • BSA: body surface area
  • BUN: blood urea nitrogen
  • CAM: complementary and alternative medicine
  • CBC: complete blood count
  • CBT: cognitive behavioral therapy
  • CD: Crohn disease
  • CD4: a glycoprotein on the surface of T helper cells
  • CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CDP: constitutional delayed puberty
  • CF: cystic fibrosis
  • CHL: conductive hearing loss
  • CLD: chronic lung disease
  • CLL: chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • CML: chronic myelogenous leukemia
  • CNS: central nervous system
  • CO: cardiac output
  • CP: cerebral palsy
  • CPAP: continuous positive airway pressure
  • CPK: creatine phosphokinase
  • CPSC: Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • CSF: cerebrospinal fluid
  • CSOM: chronic serous otitis media
  • CT: computed tomography
  • DFA: direct fluorescent antibody
  • DHA: docosahexaenoic acid
  • DOB: date of birth
  • DPI: dry powder inhaler
  • DR: drug-resistant
  • DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition - Text Revision
  • DTaP: diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis
  • DTP: diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and whole-cell pertussis
  • EBM: evidence-based medicine
  • EBV: Epstein-Barr virus
  • ECG: electrocardiography
  • ECI: early childhood intervention
  • ECMO: extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • ED: emergency department
  • EEG: electroencephalography
  • EIA: exercise-induced asthma
  • EIB: exercise-induced bronchospasm
  • ENT: Ears, Nose, and Throat
  • Epi: epinephrine
  • ESR: erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • FAAP: Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • FAS: fetal alcohol syndrome
  • FD: factor deficiency
  • FDA: Food and Drug Administration
  • FEF25-75: forced midexpiratory flow
  • FEV1: forced expiratory volume in 1 second
  • FiO2: fraction of inspired oxygen
  • FSGS: focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • FSH: follicle-stimulating hormone
  • FTT: failure to thrive

Pediatric Abbreviations and Acronyms G-to-N

  • GABHS: group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus
  • GBS: group B Streptococcus
  • GBS: Guillain Barre syndrome
  • GCS: Glasgow Coma Scale
  • GFCF: gluten-free casein-free
  • GH: growth hormone
  • GI: gastrointestinal
  • GnRH: gonadotropin-releasing hormone
  • GU: genitourinary
  • HAV: hepatitis A virus
  • HBsAg: hepatitis B surface antigen
  • HBV: hepatitis B virus
  • Hct: hematocrit
  • HDL: high-density lipoprotein
  • HFV: high-frequency ventilation
  • Hgb: hemoglobin
  • HHV: human herpesvirus
  • Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • HIV: human immunodeficiency virus
  • HLA: human leukocyte antigen
  • hMPV: human metapneumovirus
  • HPV: human papillomavirus
  • HR: heart rate
  • HSV: herpes simplex virus
  • IBD: inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS: irritable bowel syndrome
  • ICS: inhaled corticosteroid
  • IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • IDDM: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • IDU: injection drug use
  • IG: immune globulin
  • Ig: immunoglobulin
  • IGF-1: insulin-like growth factor-1
  • IL: interleukin
  • IM: intramuscular
  • INH: isoniazid
  • iNO: inhaled nitric oxide
  • IPV: inactivated poliovirus vaccine
  • IV: intravenous
  • IVC: intraventricular catheter
  • IVC: inferior vena cava
  • IVIG: intravenous immune globulin
  • JD: Juvenile diabetes
  • JRA: Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • LABA: long-acting beta2 agonist
  • LAIV: live-attenuated influenza vaccine
  • LATCH: Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children
  • LCAD: long-chain acyl-coA dehydrogenase
  • LCFA: long-chain fatty acid
  • LD: learning disability
  • LDL: low-density lipoprotein
  • LGA: large for gestational age
  • LH: luteinizing hormone
  • LMA: laryngeal mask airway
  • LQTS: long QT syndrome
  • MAS: meconium aspiration syndrome
  • MCAD: medium-chain acyl-coA dehydrogenase
  • MCAT: Medical College Admission Test
  • MCV4: tetravalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
  • MD: Doctor of Medicine
  • MDI: metered dose inhaler
  • MEE: middle ear effusion
  • MIC: minimum inhibitory concentration
  • MMR: measles-mumps-rubella
  • NKDA: no known drug allergies
  • MPGN: mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis
  • MPSV4: tetravalent meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine
  • MRI: magnetic resonance imaging
  • mRNA: messenger RNA
  • MRSA: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • NAAT: nucleic acid amplification test
  • NBS: newborn screening
  • NICU: neonatal intensive care unit
  • NSAID: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

Pediatric Abbreviations and Acronyms O-to-Z

  • OAE: otoacoustic emission testing
  • OCD: obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • OME: otitis media with effusion
  • OPV: oral poliovirus vaccine
  • OSAS: obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
  • PAC: premature atrial contraction
  • PaCO2: partial pressure of arterial carbon dioxide
  • PALS: Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • PANDAS: pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders
  • PaO2: partial pressure of arterial oxygen
  • PCP: primary care physician
  • PCR: polymerase chain reaction
  • PCV7: 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • PCV13: 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • PDD: pervasive developmental disorders
  • PET: pressure equalization tube
  • PFT: pulmonary function testing
  • PPHN: persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
  • PPV23: 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
  • PT: prothrombin time
  • PT: physical therapy
  • PTT: partial thromboplastin time
  • PVC: premature ventricular contraction
  • QTc: corrected QT interval
  • RAD: reactive airway disease
  • RDA: recommended dietary allowance
  • RDS: respiratory distress syndrome
  • ROP: retinopathy of prematurity
  • RR: respiratory rate
  • RSV: respiratory syncytial virus
  • SABA: short-acting beta2 agonist
  • SGA: small for gestational age
  • SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • SLE: systemic lupus erythematosus
  • SNHL: sensorineural hearing loss
  • SSRI: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  • SSS: sick sinus syndrome
  • STD: sexually transmitted disease
  • STI: sexually transmitted infection
  • SVT: suptraventricular tachycardia
  • T4: thyroxine
  • TB: tuberculosis
  • TD: tardive dyskinesia
  • Td: tetanus toxoid and reduced diphtheria toxoid
  • Tdap: tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis
  • THC: D9-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • TIV: trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine
  • TM: tympanic membrane
  • TNF: tumor necrosis factor
  • TS: Tourette syndrome
  • TSH: thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • TST: tuberculin skin testing
  • UA: urinalysis
  • UC: ulcerative colitis
  • UGI: upper GI test
  • UNHS: universal newborn hearing screening
  • UPr/Cr: urine protein/creatinine ratio
  • URI: upper respiratory tract infection
  • UTI: urinary tract infection
  • V/Q: ventilation/perfusion
  • VAERS: Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System
  • VCUG: voiding cystourethrography
  • VF: ventricular fibrillation
  • VHC: valved holding chamber
  • VLCFA: very long-chain fatty acids
  • VLDL: very low-density lipoprotein
  • VT: ventricular tachycardia
  • VUR: vesicoureteral reflux
  • vWb: von Willebrand disease
  • VZV: varicella-zoster virus
  • WBC: white blood cell
  • WHO: World Health Organization

Pediatric Prescription Abbreviations

Parents who are confused about the directions on their child's prescription medications can make mistakes giving those medicines. They also can't easily verify that the medication was dispensed the way their pediatrician intended.

Of course, the best solution to this problem isn't teaching parents to decipher their pediatrician's chicken scratch handwriting or learn the prescription abbreviations often used on those prescriptions.

It would be better if we all used electronic prescriptions to reduce medical errors from poor handwriting on handwritten prescriptions and learned to avoid medical abbreviations.

Until that happens, though, you might review some of these pediatric prescription abbreviations and make sure you understand the instructions to any medications that your pediatrician prescribes to your kids.

  • bid: twice a day
  • gts: drops
  • od: right eye
  • os: left eye
  • ou: both eyes
  • po: by mouth
  • pr: per rectum
  • PRN: as needed
  • q8h: every 8 hours
  • qac: before meals
  • qd: once a day
  • qhs: at bedtime
  • qod: every other day
  • tid: three times a day

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