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

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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AN INVISIBLE THREAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD PANHANDLER, A BUSY SALES EXECUTIVE, AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING WITH DESTINY

A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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