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Edited by Amanda Ogilvy‐Stuart and Paula Midgley. Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, £35.00 (paperback), pp 228. ISBN 0-5218-3849-5.
Interpretation of endocrine function in the newborn period can be difficult, and it is often an area of confusion. This book certainly clears the muddy waters. It offers concise and practical guidelines, and acts as a handbook with a hands‐on, how‐to approach.
The book itself is small and thin, and therefore not daunting. Unfortunately, the cover is somewhat unexciting and offers the only, if slightly mundane, photographs. The layout inside the book cannot be faulted. Each chapter covers a different endocrine problem. There are 25 of these in total, and they have a similar, clear format.
The first section in each chapter is “Clinical presentation”. Here each problem is listed in bullet points with a short explanation. The next is “Approach to the problem”. This has a useful and practical paragraph outlining the order in which things should be done and also prioritises the clinical problems. This is followed by “Differential diagnosis” and “Investigations”. The next section is “Management”, which is usefully broken down into short, intermediate and long‐term management. Each paragraph is clear and concise. “What to tell the parents” comes next. For me this is the most appealing section. Set‐out in a clear manner, the authors emphasise the important points to relay to parents. It also includes useful links to other areas in the book and lists support groups or relevant websites. Finally each chapter has a “Further reading” section.
Most chapters include a flow chart. These charts clarify the pathway of investigation and management in what can be a fairly complex area. Again they are clearly set out and easy to read. Some chapters have additional sections relevant to the problem being discussed. These include “Management at home”, which gives extremely useful and practical advice.
At the back of the book are five appendices. The first explains how to calculate the glucose infusion rate from both intravenous fluids and milk. This is shown in a graph format in addition to the calculation. The second appendix describes the dynamic tests. This is an invaluable section. Not only do the authors list the indication for certain tests but they also explain how the patient should be prepared for the test, how the procedure is performed, and how to interpret the results. Normal ranges are given in Appendix 3. Again a useful section, as neonatal ranges are rarely given by hospital laboratories. Appendix 4 is “Biochemistry samples”. I am a little doubtful about using this as a reference as I think each laboratory differs, not only in the amount of blood required, but also in the turn‐around times. I would not take this information at face value, and would certainly recommend contacting one's own hospital laboratory to confirm what sort of sample is required. The authors do emphasise that the table is only for guidance; in which case I wonder if it was necessary to include it. The final appendix is a formulary. This includes drugs required for dynamic tests as well as treatment doses, and is a useful addition.
Practical Neonatal Endocrinology does exactly what it aims to do. It is a clear, concise and extremely practical handbook which should be available not only in neonatal units but also in all general paediatric departments.