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Book Reviews and Other Media
March 2003

Formative Years: Children's Health in the United States, 1880-2000

Author Affiliations


Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(3):303-304. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.3.303-a

Formative Years is a remarkable book that compiles the lectures from a 2000 conference celebrating the sesquicentennial of the University of Michigan Medical School. The conference explored the progress and complexity of children's health in the United States from 1880 to 2000.

This is an informative collection of essays that is not a simple reiteration of the scientific advances of pediatrics or a glorification of only our "father" figures. It is instead a portrayal of the development of child health as influenced by the social roots and pressing issues of the time. The chapters show the important role that women had, in concert with the emerging pediatricians, in shaping health systems for children. These women, mostly social activists, joined with the early leaders of pediatrics, almost all of whom were men, to forge a system of care that blended elements of preventive and curative medicine in a way that characterizes the practice patterns of pediatrics today.

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