The title of this World Health Organization (WHO) publication touches on an extremely important part of modern pediatrics. The volume is a collection of nine essays by different authors with an introduction by the editor. For the purposes of this volume, childhood begins at conception, as two of the chapters deal exclusively with fetal problems. Clinical implications (such as increased use of amniocentesis) that stem from those chapters apply even more to obstetricians than to pediatricians; as might be expected, an obstetrician is the coauthor of each of them.
As is usually the situation with a multiauthored book, some parts are better organized and more useful than others. The chapters on perinatal disease, obesity, infectious diseases of childhood, and mental health provide particularly good reviews and sufficient background to give the thoughtful reader ideas for planning the next steps. I found the two chapters on malnutrition less imaginative and lacking