Jennifer Abuzzahab is a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Minnesota and has been a MNAAP member since 2001. Dr. Abuzzahab answered these questions for Minnesota Pediatrician as this issue’s member spotlight.
What made you choose pediatric endocrinology as your specialty?
I like the balance of hormone pathways, the ability to replace (most) deficits with bio-identical hormones, and the opportunity for patient continuity. I really like the Yin/Yang balance of it all. I chose pediatrics because kids are fun to work with and generally make me laugh every day.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different! I have days where I am only in clinic (seeing outpatients), days/weeks where I am on call seeing inpatients, and days with blocked research time for our clinical studies. I love that there is not a “typical” day or week, although I did almost go to the wrong clinic once.
Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a research area of interest for you. What drew you to study this genetic disorder?
It’s a fascinating condition and truly individuals with PWS can manifest many different ways across the spectrum of not only the genetic disorder but the stages of the disorder. I am proud to be part of the care team for several amazing kids (infants, school-age, teens, and young adults) with PWS and they have motivated me to look into ways to improve their lives. I also feel that there is some overlap between people with PWS and people with hypothalamic obesity following brain tumors.
Is there an area of advocacy work that you feel strongly about?
I am a strong advocate for preventive care and healthy lifestyles. I really believe that food is medicine. It is OK to eat candy or (my personal fav) Cheetos every now and then, but they are not every day foods. I promote more vegetables and fruits, or eating a rainbow every day.
What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you recently?
There are so many to choose from. I think the best one was a 3 year old who was showing off their counting skills by counting their teeth. I am loosely quoting his proud and hysterical proclamation: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…2, I have 2 teeth”