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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: John W. Chandler, MD, FACS (University of Washington School of Medicine)
Description: This is a comprehensive, scholarly, and scientifically sound description of the current understanding of this important, preventable condition. The authors nicely weave a very readable story with the vast scientific literature on the subject.
Purpose: The book discusses vitamin A deficiency in the context of child health and survival and clearly describes measures to prevent up to 10 million cases of blindness and save a million or more lives each year. The authors so clearly and convincingly describe the consequences of vitamin A deficiency that its prevention should be the paramount goal of leaders throughout the world.
Audience: Dr. Sommer is a noted authority on this subject and has conducted seminal research on vitamin A deficiency. His description of the goal and intended audience for the book is as follows: "That this book will prove useful to pediatricians, nutritionists, ophthalmologists, scientists and public health practitioners and officials engaged in designing and implementing programs aimed at curbing vitamin A deficiency and its consequences and reducing the terrible and needless loss of sight and life." It cannot be said any better.
Features: Much scientific data are shown in figures and tables. Thirty-two color plates superbly document the ocular consequences of vitamin A deficiency. Each chapter is extensively referenced with historic and contemporary papers. The book is divided into sections on the consequences of vitamin A deficiency, mechanisms, treatment, and assessment and prevention. The detailed table of contents makes it easy to find specific subjects.
Assessment: For individuals with an interest in any aspect of vitamin A deficiency or a broad interest in public health or child health, this is an important book. Drs. Sommer and West have written a book of high scientific quality that also tells a compelling story that must be understood and acted on by scientists, physicians, and public officials throughout the world.