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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Thomas J Van Osdol, MD (Children's Mercy Hospital)
Description: This is the second edition of a multiauthored, comprehensive review of asthma and wheezing disorders in infants and children. The first edition appeared in 1995.
Purpose: As stated in the preface, the purpose is to serve as a comprehensive international review of childhood asthma. It addresses those aspects of asthma that are unique to childhood. Most books dealing with asthma do so in a more general fashion, perhaps dedicating a chapter or two to childhood asthma. A complete book is indeed warranted and the authors meet their objectives. They challenge conventional thinking and portray asthma as an endpoint of a spectrum of disease processes. They provoke thought and inspire the reader to optimize the care which they provide.
Audience: The book was written for all health professionals who deal with wheezy children. This includes general pediatricians, those in training, and specialists who care for children with asthma. A group in particular that may benefit from this book includes allergy and asthma specialists who are internists by training, but who provide care for a large number of children.
Features: The book covers all areas relevant to childhood asthma. Among the 18 sections and 37 chapters are sections dedicated to epidemiology, genetics, clinical features, psychosocial aspects, developmental lung physiology, triggers (allergy, viral infections, gastroesophageal reflux, passive smoking,) and management. There are also chapters focusing on asthma on other continents and asthma which complicates other disorders, including prematurity. The references are current and there are excellent flow diagrams, graphs, and tables. Illustrations include 10 color plates and many black-and-white images. The relevance of the color plates to the topic as a whole is somewhat questionable.
Assessment: This book offers an excellent contribution to the field. The rare allergist/immunologist who feels that all asthma is atopic may initially be somewhat put off by the language, but the ideas and challenges are solid. The chapters are somewhat short and leave some questions unanswered. The book is concise, however, and the references are complete. I was somewhat perplexed by the cover photograph. Clearly, the overall theme of the book is that not all asthma is atopic in nature. Allergists/immunologists are certainly among the targeted audience, but the choice in cover art seems to be a marketing ploy carried out by both editor and publisher.