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

THE BUSINESS OF BABY

WHAT DOCTORS DON'T TELL YOU, WHAT CORPORATIONS TRY TO SELL YOU, AND HOW TO PUT YOUR PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH, AND BABY BEFORE THEIR BOTTOM LINE

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. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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