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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Martin T. Stein, MD (UCSD Medical Center)
Description: This is a comprehensive, up-to-date, multiauthored text that covers a multidisciplinary field of study that includes pediatrics, epidemiology, public health, anthropology, psychology, and endocrinology.
Purpose: It explores a wide range of intellectual fields that have brought both scholarship and practical applications to our understanding of human growth. The editors view the study of growth and development in its broadest context that incorporates clinical measurements, population epidemiology, and the interactions between genetic endowment and environmental experience.
Audience: The book is written for "...health professionals, biologists, anthropologists, and educators." It is a valuable reference for medical students, residents in pediatrics and family medicine, graduate students and clinical fellows in medical genetics and dysmorphology, practicing pediatricians who seek knowledge beyond a standard general textbook, and medical school faculty who teach human growth and development courses. The consistent academic credibility of the contributors supports this broad recommendation.
Features: The book begins with an extensive, well-organized discussion of the measurement and assessment of growth that explores the creation and use of growth references. Fetal and postnatal growth, genetic contributions, and growth abnormalities are reviewed with contemporary scientific information. The interaction between genes and environment is given credibility by exploring aspects of culture, geography, and socioeconomic change. Contributions of clinical cases, new imaging techniques, and molecular biology are used throughout the text. The section on behavioral and cognitive development is brief compared to the emphasis on physical growth, but it is informative. Graphs and charts are especially well designed to enhance the meaning of the text. Photographs and the art of children throughout the world are reminders of the practical applications of particular topics. Highlighted subtexts (e.g., growth of twins, genetics and body fatness, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and aging and metabolic change) are intriguing. The appendix includes brief biographies of contributors to the field over the past 300 years. A glossary of technical terms is useful for those readers learning about a new discipline.
Assessment: This is an engaging book for clinicians and scientists interested in the field of human growth and development. The enormous breadth of material that represents a wide variety of disciplines, clear and precise writing, and a combination of historical and contemporary knowledge combine to make this an outstanding text that will be read for many years. The editors and contributors are experts in their areas, and they have brought the latest information into each discussion. The reader comes away with scholarly knowledge about all aspects of physical measurement and an appreciation of the influence of genetic, physiological, social, economic, and nutritional variables on human growth.