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September 1972

Monitoring, Birth Defects and Environment: The Problem of Surveillance.

Am J Dis Child. 1972;124(3):458. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1972.02110150156042

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This 308 page hardcover summary of a conference costs $8.50. At 2¾¢ per page (typewritten print!) it is at best a poor buy. The book presents current as well as potential techniques for monitoring mutagenesis and teratogenesis, topics of particular interest in this era of environmental, ecologic disaster. Unfortunately, in the words of one of the contributors, the volume is "heavy on theory and light on accomplishment" (page 246). The following general methods are discussed in an exhausting, tedious, and inarticulate manner. Prenatal methods, employing detailed anatomic examination of all fetal deaths as well as amniotic fluid analyses are not logistically practical in an era when viable perinatal deaths are seldom autopsied or carefully examined. Monitoring for major and minor malformations using both retrospective (death certificate) and prospective techniques also appears to be logistically impractical and unrewarding. Again, the most telling criticism comes from one of the contributors (page 103):

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