HEALING AT HOME: A Guide to Health Care for Children by

HEALING AT HOME: A Guide to Health Care for Children

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To pediatrician Mary Howell, a former Associate Dean of Harvard Medical School, disease should be regarded according to its Middle English roots as dis-ease--a lack of ease. Her approach to remedying that condition in children is to educate mothers so they know what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to apply basic skills, remedies, and comforts. She is knowledgeable and thorough throughout, and for the most part reasonable. That last qualification relates to an aggressive stance, coupling feminism with dislike and disapproval of the present philosophy of medical care. She goes so far as to suggest that families pool resources to buy a blood pressure cuff, urine testing devices, and the like in order to conduct basic physicals at home. She also suggests that small amounts of prescription drugs be kept on hand, prescribed by a cooperating professional. In a drug-prone culture, that hardly seems wise. The use of she or s/he and her exclusive address to mothers is also a bother; there's nothing here that fathers couldn't and shouldn't benefit from. Those cavils aside, the book is excellent in its history-taking and common complaint sections. The maladies (alphabetical from anemia to vomiting) are much more comprehensively described than in the standard Spockian texts, with details of onset, stages, treatments provided. Howell is to be commended also for emphasizing the importance of teaching children about their bodies in the process of asking them questions and explaining procedures. Her preventive health section adds relaxation to the standard good nutrition and exercise as essential in maintaining a healthy state. Even if you're not prepared to go all the way with home physicals and diagnostic tests, there is enough basic technical information balanced with care and comfort advice to enrich the lore of the family caretaker whoever she or he may be.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1978
Publisher: Beacon