Dr. Caroline A. Chandler, 73, a pediatrician, child mental health specialist and author, died Tuesday at Washington Hospital Center. She had emphysema.

At her death, Dr. Chandler was a consultant to Children's Hospital here and Plays for Living in New York, which is connected with the Family Service Association of America.

She had held both positions since 1968 after retiring from the National Institute of Mental Health. She was former chief of the center for studies of mental health of children and youth there.

From 1968 to 1971, Dr. Chandler also was a consultant to Project Headstart in the Office of Economic Opportunity.

She had joined NIMH in 1961 after serving as chief of the office of mental health and child health in the Maryland State Department of Health for two years.

Dr. Chandler was a former assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an instructor in mental hygiene at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore.

She was born in Ford City, Pa. After attending the University of Pittsburgh she graduated from Barnard College in New York. She earned a medical degree at the Yale University School of Medicine in 1933.

She was a reserach fellow in pediatrics and then an assistant in bacteriology at the Harvard Medical School before joining the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1939. She later taught preventive medicine there.

In 1943-44, Dr. Chandler was a child hygiene specialist in the Labor Department's Children's Bureau here. She first joined the National Institutes of Health in 1944 as a U.S. Public Health Service surgeon in the TB control division. She continued to serve as a USPHS surgeon and later a medical director into the 1970s.

Dr. Chandler was the author or co-author of numerous books and articles in the medical field.

She also wrote a number of popular books, including "Susie Stuart, M.D.," "Susie Stuart, Home Front Doctor," "Famous Men of Medicine" and "Nursing As a Career."

She held numerous awards and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her many professional memberships included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Public Health Association, and the British Royal Society of Health.

Dr. Chandler lived in Bethesda.

She is survived by a sister, Dorothy C. Johnson of Pittsburgh.