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Diseases of the Nervous System in Childhood

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    Diseases of the Nervous System in Childhood. Second edition. Edited by jean aicardi. (Pp900, £150.00). Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998. ISBN1-898683-16-6.

    In the first edition of this text in 1992 Professor Aicardi argues for the continuing role of clinical history and examination in the face of rapidly advancing techniques of neuroimaging and neurophysiology. In his preface to the second edition he describes the need for someone to marshall and make sense of the deluge of information available in a world in which only computerised networks can keep pace with new developments and new data in medical sciences. The experience in the field of childhood neurology of Professor Aicardi and his coauthors enables the organisation of this volume of information, and the direction of the reader to the most important and significant data. This second edition succeeds in its aim to incorporate the major developments of the past 6 years and provide an access route to further information in the literature, while retaining the overall outline of the first edition. The book is primarily clinically oriented, comprehensively describing the neurological diseases of childhood in sufficient detail to enable diagnosis, prognosis, and management. It will be of value to all physicians with an interest in childhood neurological disorders, including general paediatricians, neurologists, and other physicians interested in developmental medicine. The book is divided into 11 main sections, covering childhood neurology from fetal development through to developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders of older children and adolescents. This last section is written by Professor Gillberg from Goteburg and is prefaced by a succinct and very useful chapter on normal mental and behavioural development. For the section on cerebral palsy Professor Aicardi is joined by Martin Bax and they note the lack of longitudinal data on the natural history of cerebral palsy, unfortunately a common problem in paediatric neurological disorders, together with a lack of randomised controlled trials of therapies. The chapter on metabolic diseases is co written with Helene Ogier from Paris and this area of increasing importance is very clearly presented and illustrated. Otherwise the book is single author and extensively referenced, with an emphasis on recent articles. It is well illustrated, particularly with high quality neuroimaging reproductions. The numerous tables are comprehensive and of great practical use to the physician attempting to construct a differential for obscure diagnoses. This book is one of the best of its kind and, as with the first edition, will continue to take first place on the bookshelf of all paediatric neurologists. It is also highly readable and will remain the “friendly companion even at the bedside“ that Professor Aicardi aims for, a role not yet overtaken by computer technology.

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