THE CHILD BEFORE BIRTH by Linda Ferrill Annis


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A somewhat unsettling guide to prenatal development which first follows a normal fetus and then examines the outside influences which may interfere with the natural sequence. The chapters of general stages and sensory milestones include photographs--at two, three, and four months--much like Nilsson's in A Child Is Born, although the latter is a more sensitive, consciously life-affirming version of the scenario. The greater part of the book, however, briskly scans the research on the effects of poor nutrition, drugs and disease, and maternal factors (age, general health, personal habits) which can derail natural development, and the disproportionate size of the section as well as its alarmist undertones may be disconcerting to readers first approaching decisions about having children. Expectant parents should, of course, be apprised of known agents of impairment, the long-term consequences of smoking or prescription drugs, the possibility of passing on hemophilia or Huntington's Chorea, but other works (Gets & Gets' Caring for Your Unborn Child, p. 826) present the same facts without the overhanging shadow. And Annis, in her persistence to root out the causes of birth defects, supports some devious solutions: e.g., intermarriage across religious and racial lines would decrease the incidence of heritable conditions like Tay-Sachs disease or sickle cell anemia. One sees the admirable intent here--so many birth defects are avoidable--but the inflection needs adjustment.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press