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Formative Years

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

Alexandra Minna Stern and Howard Markel, Editors

Publication Year: 2002

Alexandra Minna Stern is Associate Director of the Center for the History of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and American Culture at the University of Michigan. Howard Markel is the George Edward Wantz Professor of the History of Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, and Professor of History at the University of Michigan, and Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Conversations in Medicine and Society


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

This volume has its origins in a September, 2000 conference sponsored by the University of Michigan Historical Center for the Health Sciences in conjunction with the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the University of Michigan Medical School. Entitled “The David Murray Cowie Symposium on the History of Pediatrics and Child Health in America,” the conference brought together historians of medicine, childhood, and ...

List of Contributors

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xvi

Although the history of medicine should need no justification, it evidently does if one is to judge by the way medical students are taught. When I entered medical school in 1943, there was only a desultory lecture here and there on medical history. Yet the school I attended was the first established in the United States and traced its proud lineage to Edinburgh.

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pp. 1-20

Not a year goes by without our awareness of a new pressing issue affecting the lives and health of children. At some point over the past three centuries, Americans have been warned about the importance of proper infant feeding, the horrors of sexual abuse, the risks of not using car seats, the precautionary need for gun safety locks, and, ...

Part 1. Pediatrics as a Specialty

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Abraham Jacobi and the Origins of Scientific Pediatrics in America

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pp. 23-46

In early October 1860, Dr. Abraham Jacobi stepped through the front door of the New York Medical College on East Thirteenth Street and walked into medical history. This entrance was literal: on that day Jacobi became the first dedicated professor of pediatrics the world had known. In a literary sense, it was also a defining moment, for the term ...

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For the Welfare of Children: The Origins of the Relationship between U.S. Public Health Workers and Pediatricians

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pp. 47-65

The majority of children living in the United States today enjoy excellent health and access to health care, in large part because of the development of new therapeutic and preventive measures for childhood diseases, a dedicated cadre of children’s health care providers, and a panoply of public health programs to improve the health of children ...

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Technology in the Nursery: Incubators, Ventilators, and the Rescue of Premature Infants

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pp. 66-88

On 16 July 1918, Mrs. Mary Holcombe of Bladon Springs, Alabama, gave birth to twin boys born six weeks early, each weighing just over three pounds. Neither infant took to the breast, but their mother managed to keep both in apparent health with a mixture of cow’s milk and water. Then, at around ten days of life, the two became increasingly fretful at night despite all efforts to keep them warm. A neighbor was ...

Part 2. Standardizing the Child

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Weight Charts and Well Child Care: When the Pediatrician Became the Expert in Child Health

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pp. 91-120

Just after World War I, experts reported an epidemic of malnutrition among American children. A third of all children were underweight, they argued, because of poor diets and underlying physical defects. Over the next decade, public health workers weighed and measured millions of children in an effort to identify the malnourished; several states reached more than half of their preschool populations. Although ...

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Better Babies Contests at the Indiana State Fair: Child Health, Scientific Motherhood, and Eugenics in the Midwest, 1920–35

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pp. 121-152

By 8:00 A.M. on the morning of 3 September 1929, dozens of mothers were lined up in front of the Better Babies Contest Building at the Indiana State Fair, eagerly waiting for the doors to open.1 Since 1920, and in increasing numbers, babies from nearly every Indiana county had been weighed, measured, and tested by physicians and psychologists affiliated with the State Board of Health’s Division of Infant and Child Hygiene. During the 1920s, this division launched a multifaceted plan ...

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“I Was a Teenage Dwarf”: The Social Construction of “Normal” Adolescent Growth and Development in the United States

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pp. 153-182

In his best-selling novel I Was a Teen-Age Dwarf, Max Shulman describes the woes of adolescent protagonist Dobie Gillis, a young man who strives for success in life and love despite being utterly average in every way. A sequel to Shulman’s The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which inspired the television show of the same name, Dwarf opens by ...

Part 3. “Discovering” New Diseases in Children

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Going to School, Getting Sick: The Social and Medical Construction of School Diseases in the Late Nineteenth Century

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pp. 185-207

Toward the middle of a long address on urban civic responsibility that he delivered to open the 1884 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Alfred L. Gihon, medical director of the U.S. Navy and newly elected president of the association, paused to ask the members of his audience whether they had ever been curious why each fall their children seemed to lose appetite, grow pale and fitful, ...

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Pathway to Health: Juvenile Diabetes and the Origins of Managerial Medicine

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pp. 208-232

As the twenty-first century commences, children and adolescents with a wide variety of acute and chronic medical conditions increasingly find themselves placed on pathways to health. Clinical care pathways or practice guidelines now exist for dozens of pediatric conditions, from the treatment of infants with fever or with jaundice, to the diagnosis and management of asthma or otitis media, to the supervision of ...

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The Discovery of Child Sexual Abuse in America

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pp. 233-259

The year was 1977 and the speaker was C. Henry Kempe, a prominent Denver pediatrician with a national reputation in the young field of child abuse. Dr. Kempe had been asked to give the prestigious C. Anderson Aldrich Lecture to the AAP. His talk, entitled “Sexual Abuse, Another Hidden Pediatric Problem,” charged pediatricians with neglecting an important pediatric concern:

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Framework as Prison: Interpreting Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the Late Twentieth Century

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pp. 260-282

In 1973 David Smith, a dysmorphologist (a specialist in clinical genetics concerned with diagnosing and interpreting patterns of physical defects), and his resident fellow, Kenneth Lyons Jones, “discovered” fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a pattern of birth defects that occurs in approximately three per one thousand to one per two thousand live births in the United States as the result of heavy maternal ...

Bibliography and Suggested Reading

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pp. 283-287


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pp. 289-304

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025039
E-ISBN-10: 0472025031
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472089802
Print-ISBN-10: 0472089803

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 4 drawings, 10 B&W photographs
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Conversations in Medicine and Society