The Healthy Baby Book
A Parent's Guide to Preventing Birth Defects and Other Long-Term Medical Problems Before, During and After Pregnancy
By Carolyn Reuben
Publication date: 1992
The fear of bearing a child with birth defects is a real one for many prospective parents. And though Reuben, a medical writer and a self-described "older" mother, does not want to scare her readers, she explains the many factors--medical, chemical, environmental--that can wreak havoc with our chromosomes or a developing fetus. Fortunately, the risks associated with many birth defects and genetic disorders can be prevented, so Reuben emphasizes the importance of genetic testing and counseling. She also makes numerous suggestions (some practical, others less so) for how to live as hazard-free a life as possible. For example, she advises pregnant women to test their drinking water and ask local bottled water companies to provide analyses of their own products, and then to compare the two. But some of her counsel, by her own admission, is controversial--as are some of the studies she cites. For example, one study asserts that the more negative a pregnant woman's attitude toward her job is, the greater her risk of giving birth to a low-birth-weight baby--regardless of the physical labor demanded by her job. Reuben also recommends that in order to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death, the new mother should breast-feed her infant whenever the baby demands it and take the child to bed with her. She provides an appendix of the most common birth defects.
Reuben, a health columnist for Los Angeles Weekly , gives a careful and thorough overview of managing a pregnancy in order to minimize the possibility of birth defects. Following an introductory chapter which focuses on the rudiments of genetics, pre-existing conditions, and environmental factors that affect childbearing, the book is divided into three major sections: before, during, and after pregnancy. Reuben discusses the role of diseases, diet and nutrition, drugs, and environment in relation to the baby's well being. Her information has been carefully researched and is explained clearly. The readability and usefulness of the information is enhanced by the frequent use of a feature "What to do," wherein Reuben makes suggestions for behavioral changes and lists places to seek further information. Appendixes include an alphabetical list of the most common birth defects, a list of resources for further information, a glossary, and a bibliography. Recommended for public library collections.