Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Journal of the American Medical Association and Children's Lit

This post does have something to do with kid's lit. I promise.

I always look forward to reading JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, not only because there is always a work of art, often by an artist new to me, on the cover. This week it is the painting Spring, by Russian artist Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (1878-1935).  I also find interesting articles about international health in a segment entitled "The World in Medicine."

Inside the March 16th issue, I found a short piece entitled, "Saving Newborn Lives," about the value of prenatal care. It pertains to Before You Were Here, Mi Amor, the picture book mentioned in my last post, about the value of caring for and welcoming children before they are born.

The article in JAMA refers to a study, recently reported in the journal Lancet, conducted in Pakistan to investigate if promoting maternal health care through use of clean delivery kits, facility births, immediate newborn care and other measures can decrease the high number of still births. Researchers Bhutta ZA et al. at the Aga Khan University, in Karachi, sent "lady health workers" (LHWs) to remote poor rural villages with very high infant mortality rates, to educate women in group sessions about prenatal care. Although the study was small, the reduction in still births that resulted supported the notion that education of women can have an important impact.

There is a heated political debate in Congress and the media, about cutting funding for maternal and child health, <1% of our national budget. The question is framed as follows: is attending to the reproductive health of women related to our "national interest?" What does the plight of pregnant women in remote Pakistan have do with Americans?  Laura Bush, a librarian, is in favor of such funding. Perhaps the evocative connections between children's literature and current international research can help readers decide how they feel about this issue.

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