Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical Industry's Quest to Manipulate Height

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Penguin, 2009 - Medical - 405 pages
A fascinating story of medical experimentation, parental love, and the extreme measures taken to make children fit within ?the norm.?

Most people rarely think about their height beyond a little wishing and hoping. But for the parents of children who are ridiculed by their peers for being extraordinarily tall or extraordinarily short, height can cause great anguish. For decades, the medical establishment has responded to these worries by prescribing controversial treatments and therapies for children who fall outside of the ?normal? height range. While some have benefited, many have suffered from devastating side effects.

In this riveting book, Susan Cohen and Christine Cosgrove provide a voice for the parents, doctors, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies involved in these experimental treatments. They also tell the story of the boys and girls themselves, many of them now grown, who were subjected to a wide range of non-FDA-approved medical procedures. These treatments? which consisted of extreme doses of estrogen, pituitary glands taken from both animals and human cadavers, and testosterone injections?often had disastrous side effects.

Who is to say how tall is too tall, and how short is too short? For many of the individuals represented in this book, the answers have been clear?and they are grateful to the medical industry for improving upon nature. For others, left in the wake of this same science, the answers are fueled by tragic regret. The authors explore the dueling motives behind these procedures? with parents desperate to help their children ?fit in? and doctors and scientists hungry for scientific breakthroughs. Combining extensive research and in-depth interviews, Normal at Any Cost is the first book to place a human face on this complex and ethically charged medical history.

 

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NORMAL AT ANY COST: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical Industry's Quest to Manipulate Height

User Review  - Kirkus

Sobering story of what parents, and doctors, will do to help short and tall children become "normal."In the 1930s and '40s, popular magazines and newspaper columnists warned that tallness could be a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - redwoodhs - LibraryThing

This book is a comprehensive review of the history of the various ways the medical industry has intervened to manipulate the stature of growing children in the U.S. Moving through the past fifty years ... Read full review

Contents

drug turns young amazons into beauties
1
tallness can be a real handicap for a girl
3
playing god with hormones
17
two girls two continents
38
helping the dwarfed children
55
a gland lost is a gland wasted
57
no patient seems to have caught anything
84
soon very soon
115
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
213
friendly fire
236
35000 an inchand growing
267
a disease is born
269
now what?
306
a new normal?
334
EPILOGUE
345
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
354

to market to market
135
only genentech is not in mourning
137
dear parent
166
never before in the history of medicine
191
reckonings
211
GLOSSARY
356
NOTES
364
INDEX
397
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

A recipient of the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers, SUSAN COHEN has written extensively on bioethical issues.

CHRISTINE COSGROVE is a medical journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines around the country. A frequent contributor to WebMD, she was treated with DES (a growth-stunting drug) as a child and now stands five feet eleven inches.

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