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Somewhat extreme views that are nonetheless worthy of close consideration by parents.

Investigative journalist Margulis (co-author: The Baby Bonding Book for Dads, 2008, etc.) contends that corporate interests are putting the lives of mothers and children at risk in order to increase the bottom line.

“Most hospitals have a financial incentive to do as many interventions as possible and deliver women as quickly as possible,” writes the author. The American medical profession ranks so poorly when it comes to maternal and infant mortality that mothers are four times more likely to die during pregnancy or in childbirth than in Bosnia; compared to Irish or Italian women, the death rate is seven times higher. Similar shocking statistics hold for children. The U.S. ranks 49th among industrialized nations regarding infant death rates. While recognizing the importance of factors such as the higher number of older American women pregnant with their first child, the use of fertility drugs leading to multiple births and lack of universal health care, Margulis focuses on the one-size-fits-all, high-end medical care offered to middle- and upper-income women despite their age, their ability to pay or their expressed preferences. To substantiate her charge that the medical system puts the interests of “large companies…ahead of the best interests of the mother and her baby,” the author gives examples of women being warned off natural childbirth by obstetricians and urged instead to induce labor using hormones; or better yet, from the standpoint of doctors and hospitals, opt for a Caesarian section. Margulis also examines the claim that overuse of ultrasound to test fetal development and routine administration of megadose vaccinations may contribute to autism, and she finds fault with supplementary bottle-feeding and the overuse of diapers, which causes an unnecessary delay in potty training.

Somewhat extreme views that are nonetheless worthy of close consideration by parents.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-3608-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

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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