A Good Time To Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future

Norton. Oct. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9780393609998. $28.95. MED
Most parents of young children in the early 21st century have no experience with many of the deadly and rehabilitating diseases and conditions discussed in this latest work by Klass (journalism and pediatrics, New York Univ.) because public health practices and health care advances have decreased childhood mortality dramatically. Klass, “TheCheckup” columnist for the New York Times, brings exceptional and compassionate writing skills to an exploration of the hazards of early life, using stories of both rich and poor families before the 20th century to show how precarious children’s lives were at that time. Gradually, writes Klass, public health practices such as better sanitation and medical advances such as vaccines and antibiotics, helped to decrease infant and child mortality, and continue to do so. The author provides insight into the importance of vaccinations and health checks along with touching upon vital subjects such as child rearing, child safety seats, breastfeeding, and other concerns of childhood that have seen changes over time.
VERDICT Klass masterfully introduces readers to the people coming up with solutions for many of the dangers of childhood and shows how the pediatric specialty over time has worked to improve children’s lives. Essential reading for parents.

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