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Diseases of the Small Intestine in Childhood. 4th edn. By Walker-Smith J, Murch S. (Pp 424; illustrated; £99.50.) UK: Isis Medical Media Ltd, 1999. ISBN: 1 90186 503 7.
Pediatric gastroenterology, and our knowledge about diseases of the small intestine in children, has grown rapidly over the last few years, owing to advances in the basic sciences, such as molecular genetics and, particularly, gut immunology. The purpose of this book is to provide the consultant paediatrician, as well as the trainees, with a review of the diseases of the small intestine in children. There are two major sections in the book: the first, more general, is focused on structure and mechanisms; the second, more specific, in which attention has been given to the commoner and more important specific disease entities. This fourth edition of a book published in the past by John Walker Smith, and now coauthored by Simon Murch, reflects the long clinical experience of the first author. At the same time, it offers a thorough review of the most recent literature. The long clinical experience of the senior author, which is particularly evident in the chapter dedicated to infectious gastroenteritis, is now integrated by the strong clinical and research interest of Dr Murch in mucosal immunology. The value of the chapters dedicated to matrix (a topic to which Dr Murch has significantly contributed with his own research), and to the immune system of the small intestine in the first section of the book, and to coeliac disease and Crohn's disease in the second one, is a proof of this special competence. Also very good is the chapter on laboratory assessment, although less convincing is the part of the same chapter that discusses the chief symptoms of the child with gastrointestinal problems (diarrhoea, vomiting). The appendix on special milks is especially useful. Overall, the editorial quality of the book is high.
In conclusion, this book is a very valuable reference not only for paediatric gastroenterologists, but also for general practitioners, medical students, and dieticians.