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Profiles in Primary Care
December 2, 1998

Selma Deitch, MD, MPH: Children First

JAMA. 1998;280(21):1867-1871. doi:10.1001/jama.280.21.1867

One hundred fifty years ago when the first American physicians began calling themselves pediatricians, some 200 infants died in the first year of life of every 1000 born. Today that rate is 7 in 1000, a monumental accomplishment of pediatrics and of public health and a marker of dramatically improved child health in the United States.

Selma Deitch is a practitioner of both of these disciplines and for much of the latter half of this century has devoted her training, her energies, and her personality to the cause of improving the health of children. At 73, she remains in full stride as the founder, executive director, and chief booster of Child Health Services, a 19-year-old, innovative pediatric clinic for low-income families in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire. Part clinician and part population health zealot, she sees patients, raises precious support funds, and consults nationally on maternal and child health issues. "I work two weeks a week," she states simply.

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