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Behrstock has set out to debunk common myths (""if a baby's ears protrude, they should be taped down""), but he's not wholly to be trusted either: some of what he says is outdated, some is uninformed, some is indeed the last word on a perennial subject. (And there's no sure way to tell which is which.) The myths are grouped to highlight newborns, fever, colds, infections--plus accidents and environmental hazards, exercise and sports and nutrition; then each area of the body is covered separately. Behrstock writes from his experience as a pediatrician; and his language is understandable, his tone relaxed. He can be up-to-date and helpful--telling, for instance, how permanent teeth that are knocked out can be reimplanted. He proffers lots of curiosity items--medical science is now concluding, for one, that shaved eyebrows do grow back. But he endorses some still-questionable viewpoints (""no medical evidence exists to substantiate a correlation between teething and fevers greater than 100.4°F""), as well as some viewpoints that have been widely discredited--like his insistence that infants can be spoiled by having their desires or appetites gratified. Some of the beliefs he's discussing, moreover, he just doesn't understand: the hot-cold theory of disease, common ""among certain Latin subcultures,"" does have a known basis, and is not based on temperature. It's easy to find information here on what are in fact common myths, but not so easy to evaluate Behrstock's attitudes toward them.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row