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A Manual of Normal Neonatal Care. 2nd Edn.
  1. AMANDA OLGILVY STUART, Clinical lecturer in paediatrics
  1. John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

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    A Manual of Normal Neonatal Care. 2nd Edn. N R Clifford Roberton. (Pp 350, paperback) Arnold. ISBN 0-340-61375-0

    Training in medicine generally involves knowledge of how to manage sick patients. Just as when working in the accident and emergency department, we might feel quite at home with resuscitation but have no idea what to do with a sprained ankle, neonatal training equips us to cope with sick neonates, but not often how to manage minor abnormalities in otherwise healthy babies. In such instances I suggest taking a quick look at this book which is packed full of common sense. This edition, which is a largish pocket size, has been revised and updated to reflect continuing changes and updates in management policies.

    To some extent, the advice reflects the provision of a “transitional care” ward which is not universally available and hence not always applicable to units without such a ward. However, topics that generate much anxiety and confusion, such as advice about feeding, are well covered. Common and not so common problems encountered on the postnatal wards are discussed, from skin blemishes to squashed noses: these may be trivial by they generate considerable anxiety on the part of mothers. There are helpful tables covering appropriate investigations in various clinical situations and advice on the impact of perinatal maternal infections on the baby in terms of access, breast feeding, and treatment. Although this is a manual of the management of well babies, resuscitation is covered in detail, as even after an apparently normal pregnancy and delivery a baby may be born unexpectedly depressed or apnoeic, or an apparently well baby may collapse suddenly shortly after birth.

    Dr Roberton’s sense of humour, which makes his books very readable, comes over here, too. For instance, in case you ever wondered, not only unaltered cows’ milk, but also goat seal, camel, sheep, yak and gorilla milks are totally inappropriate for human neonates.

    This book should be available to all junior doctors and neonatal nurse practitioners who work on postnatal wards. And it will be useful to GPs, midwives, and everyone involved in the care of newborn babies. I also recommend this book to undergraduate medical students during their paediatric training attachment.