by Steven Shelov, Tanya Remer Altmann (editors), New York, NY, Bantam Books, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009, 892 pp, Softcover, $22.
This comprehensive book succeeds in its aim to provide medically sound information to parents in an approachable and organized manner. Developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is reliable and pediatric health providers should feel comfortable in knowing that if parents are reading this book they are getting correct medical information. The book is written in a friendly, somewhat conversational manner. It supports parents in their quest to provide the best care for their children and acknowledges the struggles and challenges that accompany parenting. A dedication to children and their healthy and safe development is an overarching theme.
Given the extensive number of topics covered in this book, it is likely that most people will read selected parts at a time, rather than reading it cover to cover. The table of contents nicely organizes and directs readers so that the information contained within the book is quite accessible. Part 1 of the book chronologically discusses topics relevant from pregnancy through the child's first 5 years of life. The first few chapters provide guidance about preparing for a baby, birth, and infant care. The following chapters are organized by age group, with information about growth and development, basic care, behavior, immunizations, and safety provided. The last section of Part 1 includes information about early education, child care and safety advice. Part 2 is organized alphabetically by topics generally corresponding to organ systems, such as “Abdominal/Gastrointestinal Tract” and also including important topics, such as “Family Issues,” “Immunizations,” and “Your Child's Sleep,” which are all chapter titles.
Those who are familiar with previous editions of this book may wonder how this fifth edition has been changed. Cosmetically, this book is improved with colored headlines and larger, more appealing spacing. Well-placed text boxes and pictures add to the ease with which the reader can access the voluminous amount of information included in this text. Although the overall structure and bulk of medical information has remained consistent from the previous edition, this newest version offers some new topics. The book is appropriately updated to reflect the most current medical information and parental concerns. New topics include those about autism spectrum disorders, MRSA infections, and Bisphenol A, among other things. The chapter on immunizations has been rewritten to emphasize the benefit and safety of immunizations and to directly counter some of the concerns parents may have, such as the unfounded concern that vaccines and autism are linked. In addition, several new sections have been added to further increase the breadth of knowledge included in this text. For example, there are now sections dedicated to resilience, children's sleep, and allergies.
This book can serve as an excellent resource for new and experienced parents. Its depth of knowledge makes it a reference that will be useful for many years and for many different types of concerns, whether they relate to illnesses, development, nutrition, safety, etc. It is reassuring to have such a well-written, organized, and thorough book to recommend to families of patients. Although the information obtained in this book obviously cannot and should not replace thorough medical care provided by a pediatric health provider, it can serve as a supplement to ongoing discussions with families of our patients as we work together to promote the healthy development of children.
Elizabeth Harstad, MD
Lisa Albers-Prock, MD, MPH
Developmental Medicine Center
Children's Hospital Boston