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Overcoming Bladder & Bowel Problems in Children

By D. Preston Smith, MD, FAAP, FACS, FSPU

Knoxville, TN USA

As the cover suggests, this book is “A Parent’s Guide to: Urinary Frequency, Daytime Accidents, Constipation, Encopresis, Bedwetting, and More.” Dr. Smith is exceptionally well-qualified to address these issues as both a parent and as Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, of the American College of Surgeons, and of the Society of Pediatric Urologists. (The aforementioned Fellow status means he did residency work in three separate areas and is board-certified with each of the three organizations.) The information he presents is comprehensive, perhaps exceeding in scope what a typical parent would find useful, though I tend to appreciate having more than I need, just in case.

I was frustrated with this book. In fact, I’ve had difficulty writing this review because I’d really like to recommend something like this for parents, especially those struggling with their children’s medical issues which reach beyond the typical potty training “excitement” each of expects to experience. I hate to sound nitpicky when someone has put in effort trying to fill a need such as this.

Having said that, here are my complaints: Most of all, Dr. Smith could have used a skilled proofreader. The awkward grammar, misspellings, and sometimes odd syntax distract the reader to the point that it becomes difficult to absorb the information. The interchangeable use of terms can be confusing if you don’t already have familiarity with the conditions the author is outlining. While he is clearly trying to speak thoroughly to a non-medical audience, the terms are sometimes so simplified that it seems as if he’s talking down to parents (or to their children) and at others as if he’s slipped into the writing of a medical text. While there is no doubt that he’s qualified to write such a tome, Dr. Smith would have an editor for such an undertaking, just as he should have had here.

As an aside, self-published books often struggle against these issues. While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the subject matter, presentation is everything when trying to communicate well, especially when engaging an audience in what it finds to be unfamiliar territory.

There are three sections in the back which I found particularly useful: a chart for Fiber Calculations, Child-Friendly Recipes for Constipation, and Commonly Used Medical Words. Kudos to his illustrator, Denise McClure, for her contribution of clear visuals. This is helpful for children as well as their parents. I appreciated deeply the author’s discussion of the personal and familial awareness required for children to succeed in having good potty habits. The plan he presents is sound and I’m implementing it with two of my own children.

Dr. Smith does an excellent job of being calm on a subject rife with potential for emotional trauma – which I’m sure he sees plenty of in his practice. Having dealt with pediatric urology issues in some of my own children, I commend him for his handling the gamut of topics with the sensitivity and understanding one would hope for in such a physician (and dad), but which is too rarely found.

I would like very much to see Dr. Smith run this book by a publishing house or a friend in an English department and then republish. The information is solid but it suffers from being muddied by someone who knows their own subject so well that he can skip over things which an experienced third party would be able to quickly fill in, much to the relief of his audience. For those who need this help, it would make the book worth ordering by the case.

Product Review by Carrie Wilbur, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2008

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