RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Now that she is a first-time mother of a six-month-old boy, Ashaunta Anderson, MD, MPH, is especially happy to be one of five authors of the just published book, "50 Studies Every Pediatrician Should Know" (Oxford University Press, 2016).
An assistant professor of pediatrics at the Center for Healthy Communities in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, Anderson contributed 13 of the 50 chapters to the book, covering a variety of topics including fever in infants, bacterial infections, childhood exposure to lead, seizures and epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, and sickle cell anemia.
The 50 studies that the five coauthors zeroed in on are divided into 16 sections. The sections broadly cover allergies, behavior, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, ENT, general pediatrics, hematology, infectious disease, neonatology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and pulmonary disease.
"In pediatrics, as in all of medicine, we learn standard practices in medical school or in residency, but we don't always know why we do the things we do," Anderson said. "So we set out to write this book to highlight what we think are the 50 most important studies in pediatrics as a way to educate people delivering care to children on why they practice what they do today."
The oldest of four children, Anderson has taken care of children her entire life.
"It comes naturally to me, perhaps as a result," she said. "I tried several specialties in medical school. Pediatrics was by far the one I enjoyed the most. You could have a tough day, be on call, say, for the past 30 hours, but then you see that the next child that needs to be admitted has this big smile, and that lifts you up and keeps you going."
Each chapter in the book begins with a research question. For example, the chapter "Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism" asks: Does the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) cause autism? The research question is followed by relevant information about the study — funding sources, when the study began, when it was published, where the study was conducted and who was studied. A concise summary of the study follows, emphasizing the results, limitations, implications, as well as information about what kind of criticism the study received. Each chapter offers other relevant studies for the reader to consider. An illustrative clinical case study ends each chapter.
"This is the kind of book that would be popular in medical journal clubs," Anderson said. "We have essentially provided CliffsNotes on 50 studies that shaped the current clinical practice of pediatrics."
To identify the 50 chapters, Anderson and her coauthors — Nina L. Shapiro, UCLA; Stephen C. Aronoff, Temple University, Penn.; Jeremiah C. Davis, Mosaic Medical, Ore.; and Michael Levy, University of Michigan – consulted senior pediatricians around the United States. Michael E. Hochman at the University of Southern California served as the series editor.
"Today we are facing an explosion of medical knowledge," said Anderson, who joined UC Riverside in 2013. "It's hard for medical schools to let their trainees know all there is to know — simply because there is such abundance. Of course, not all of it is high quality. In a way we've done the work for pediatricians by identifying the 50 studies that have been most influential in how we practice pediatrics today."
At UCR, Anderson's research explores the origins of health disparities in the social environments of early childhood. Her work is particularly focused on the impact of early school readiness on later academic achievement and related health outcomes. She is interested in the ways parents, health care providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders interact to support school readiness in all children. To this end, she has conducted a number of qualitative assessments of early childhood educators, pediatricians, and minority parents with the goal of developing a culturally appropriate community-partnered intervention to promote early school readiness.
She is currently evaluating the effect of the school environment on adolescent health risk behaviors. She has also examined the methods pediatricians use to ensure consistent chlamydia screening in sexually active adolescents. She is also interested in the broader policy landscape in her health services research. In the wake of the Affordable Care Act, she is examining the application of the changing health care system to child health.
Anderson is not sure at this time what her next book would discuss.
"Perhaps a book on racial socialization, which is how children learn the meaning of race in society," she said. "Parents, peers, the media, treatment in school — all of these and more shape how children think of themselves and how they view the world."
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