Solid, easily assimilated evidence showing how microbes are an integral part of a child’s healthy life.

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LET THEM EAT DIRT

SAVING OUR CHILDREN FROM AN OVERSANITIZED WORLD

Why dirt and microbes are good for your child.

With the development of antibiotics, vaccines, and sterilization techniques, the world has seen a sharp decline in the spread of infectious diseases. However, Finlay (Microbiology/Univ. of British Columbia) and Arrieta provide ample evidence showing that our world of prescription antibiotics, antibacterial soaps, and hand sanitizers—all used to combat disease and encourage hypercleanliness—are also contributing to a steady increase in “diabetes, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), autoimmune diseases, autism, certain types of cancer, and even obesity.” Beginning with pregnancy, the authors discuss the pros and cons of antibiotic use by mothers and how they change their microbial environment and can cause asthma, eczema, and hay fever in infants. Vaginal births deliver a multitude of beneficial microbes to the infant, and the authors suggest those who need caesarean sections consider a technique called “seeding,” wherein the mother’s vagina is swabbed to collect secretions that are wiped on the baby, the mother’s chest, and nipples. This provides the infant with important beneficial microbes necessary for development after the near-sterile environment of the womb. Breast milk comes with its own set of microbes beneficial to the infant, helping the intestines mature sufficiently to handle the next stage of development: the introduction of solid foods. The authors discuss the advantages of having pets and the need for exposure to the wild outdoors. They give special attention to the links between antibiotics and the increase in obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel diseases—in children and in adults. Short do's and don’ts lists help solidify the information. Overall, claim the authors, parents must be less hypervigilant about fighting bacteria, as many types of them are actually necessary for our children to be vigorous and strong.

Solid, easily assimilated evidence showing how microbes are an integral part of a child’s healthy life.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-649-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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