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Disorders of sex development

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Title: Disorders of sex development

Author: Amy B Wisniewski, Steven D Chernausek, Bradley P Kropp

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012

Reviewer: Paul Watson,  teacher of secondary mathematics and PSHE coordinator

What was it like?

This is a concise book that aims to answer parents’ questions in a reassuring and forthright way, giving affected individuals, their families, and their health care providers a current and evidence-based picture of disorders of sex development (DSD). This  well written book that is easy to read and follow, offering clear explanations of how newborns with DSD are evaluated, diagnosed, and treated, is able to be read from cover to cover or can be dipped in to, accessing the chapters that are required. It clearly describes the different kinds of DSD and pays close attention to both psychosocial and medical aspects of DSD. The authors have ensured that the book also includes information about the importance of support groups and education for affected individuals and their families.


What were the highlights? 

Nine well thought out chapters that offer support and guidance to practitioners and patients alike. Each of these chapters has a nice summary/conclusion that is useful to the reader to demonstrate the salient points the chapter is making.

Strengths & weaknesses:

This is an easy read, able to be read in specific chapters according to the reader’s needs, or all in one. There are several nice diagrams that help to explain and reinforce the text, although I did find it slightly frustrating when they came in the middle of a sentence, breaking it across two pages. 

This resource gives, not only parents and families access to the authors’ expertise so they can reach a meaningful understanding of their child’s DSD and make informed decisions about their child’s health, but provides clear information that practitioners can use. I felt at times that some of the information might be a little heavy going for some parents. In general though, I found that it was extremely descriptive with lots of examples of DSD that would allow most readers with a concern to find a similar situation to their own. My concern is simply that if a parent of a child with DSD were to be academically weak, they might struggle to get the most from this book. I would hope that in this situation there might be a professional to assist in the use of this book.

Who should read it?

This is essential reading for any family that have a child with DSD and will enable them to ask the right questions to help in the development of that child. I would suggest that many health and social care workers will not come across the issue of DSD often, but I do feel that this would still be a valuable piece of reading during initial qualification or during continued development. This is a well written book and clearly demonstrates the high level of knowledge and skills of the authors and I’d have to recommend it as essential reading to all professionals working with babies and young children. I found it an enjoyable read and learnt many things and feel sure that other professionals and parents would also gain a lot from this book.

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