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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jay P. Goldsmith, MD (Tulane University School of Medicine)
Description: This book summarizes over four decades of research on the capacities of newborns to learn, feel, and interact with other humans and their environment. Written by the researchers who did the original work and are the recognized world experts in early childhood care and development, this landmark book is a celebration of how this work has changed healthcare and childcare practices all over the world.
Purpose: The purpose is to review the findings of international researchers on newborn behavior and development in an attempt to begin to answer the question of whether developmental interventions can change the lives of children, especially those born with potential handicaps. These are indeed worthy objectives and the book goes a long way toward achieving this goal.
Audience: It is intended for pediatricians, neonatologists, and any healthcare providers who care for neonates and infants. It will also be useful for professionals and students in child psychology, public health, and child psychiatry as well as early childhood educators. The authors are recognized as the most knowledgeable authorities in this field.
Features: The book begins with a historical review of the "discovery of the human newborn," discussing changes in the appreciation of newborn behavior since the development of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) by T. Berry Brazelton in 1973. It then goes on to review research and practice in different countries around the world, citing new models for behavioral intervention and models for training healthcare professionals. The book concludes with six chapters which look into the future, discussing such divergent topics as laboratory projects on the newborn's sensitivity to sound to the use of doulas to promote parent-infant bonding. There is very little art in the book and few tables. Although the NBAS is published elsewhere, I would have liked to have seen a well done description, with pictures and problems in its administration, from the people with the most experience in performing this evaluation.
Assessment: This is a festschrift of the NBAS and its influence on newborn care practices over the last nearly half century. It shows how far we have come in our appreciation of newborn behavior and the influences which shape the lives of our children. Hopefully, this milestone will be one of many in this pursuit as this group of researchers and others give us more tools to improve the outcomes of our children, especially those born prematurely, sick, or with handicaps.