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The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line Hardcover – April 16, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Readers who are skeptical about mainstream medicine will love this book. Margulis, a journalist with a PhD in English and four children, begins her story with some scary-sounding facts: Every year more than 700 U.S. women die in childbirth, more than 25,000 of 4.3 million U.S. babies born each year will die before they turn one, and eight out of 1,000 U.S. infants will not live to age five. Margulis raises many valid questions: Why do more than 1.4 million U.S. women each year give birth via cesarean section? Why do U.S. dads often get no time off from work after the birth of a baby when fathers in Norway get 12 weeks of parental leave at full pay? She also asks whether doctors make too many of their decisions based on the profit motive. Unfortunately, she may unnecessarily alarm some pregnant moms about everything from vaccines (she particularly dislikes giving the hepatitis B immunizationto newborns) to ultrasounds (she cites a hypothesis that they may trigger autism). It’s not a balanced book, but it is a thought-provoking one that will motivate women to ask why before blindly agreeing to everything their doctor orders. --Karen Springen

Review

“Pregnancy and childbirth are wildly vulnerable times, and one is desperate to put one's faith in the doctor. Jennifer Margulis reveals why that trust is sometimes misplaced, and helps us to make wise choices when the stakes are high. This is a must-read book for parents and parents-to-be,and for the medical professionals who care for us.” (Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. author of The Dance of Anger and Marriage Rules)

"A new mother's first instinct is to protect her newborn. But how can she best do that in a consumer culture so focused on its bottom line? The Business of Baby exposes some hard and shocking facts about how even the most well-meaning American parents unwittingly buy into systems that do documented harm. Thought-provoking and exhaustively researched, this book is destined to inspire much-needed dialogue about the current American way of birthing and caring for our young." (Hope Edelman bestselling author of Motherless Daughters)

“Jennifer Margulis's searing and well-researched exposé is a must-read for expectant mothers. Whether she is discussing common obstetric practices, circumcision, vaccination, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, diapering, or choosing a pediatrician, she points the way to rational, health-based decision-making.” (Ina May Gaskin)

“Worthyof close consideration by parents.” (Kirkus)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451636083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451636086
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

440 of 611 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Coxon VINE VOICE on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is a great need for an incisive look at all sides of modern maternity care in the United States, because -- let's face it -- we all know it's not perfect. This, however, is not that book.

While Margulis' book is touted as "an eye-opening work of investigative journalism" and based on "meticulous research," the fact is, it's just another book advocating natural childbirth and demonizing doctors and hospitals. If that's what you're looking for, have at it, but don't read this expecting an objective look of any sort. Margulis was the subject of several stories about her unattended childbirth (with no midwife or OB present), which already puts her at the fringe of the natural birth movement. Her husband, James Di Properzio, is on the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery.

Among disturbing and/or bizarre things I noted, just in the first chapter:

* Margulis lists "scary-sounding" ingredients in prenatal vitamins, then fails to actually investigate whether or not they're safe. One, for example, is sodium benzoate -- a very widely used food preservative.

* In a list of facts and figures, Margulis adds up the cost of a nine-month supply of prenatal vitamins and then compares it to the cost of ONE bunch of kale. (Does it follow that one bunch of kale will provide all needed nutrition for nine months? Because one nutrition database I checked shows one cup of kale provides a mere 5 percent of the RDA for folate.)

* Margulis calls the glucose test (basically, drinking an overly sweet beverage and then getting your blood drawn) "one of the most unpleasant prenatal tests." Really? I mean, if that's her view of a syrupy drink, stubbing her toe must seem positively apocalyptic.
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212 of 303 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was rather disappointed to read Mrs Margulis book. I fou d it lacking real research and ended ing up being nothing else but an opinion piece. The one sided argument leaves you wondering how much did she leave out....
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50 of 72 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When considering whether or not to buy this book, please take strong consideration of the negative reviews and their arguments. The negative reviews are nitpicking because NONE of them disprove or disqualify the main points behind this book:

- The US is ranked 49th in the world for maternal health.
- Of the 4.3 million babies born in America each year, more than 25,000 will die in their first year.
- 1/3 of women in the US undergo a c-section.
- Only 24 states require hospitals to report adverse maternal outcomes to the state government. Only three of these states require this information to be public.
- Most states have no system in place to investigate maternal deaths.

Whatever your opinions on natural birthing, vaccines, potty training, sodium benzoate, Margulis' sources etc., realize that those complaints don't mean that maternal health in this country is absolutely amazing. Realize that those complaints don't mean that that there's nothing we can do to improve maternal care in the United States. Realize that those complaints don't mean the current status quo isn't ridiculous, maddening, and in need of changing.

Margulis did her homework to find out why these facts are true. Why are we ranked 49th in the world, behind former war zones like Bosnia and Herzegovina and poorer countries like Kiribati and Bulgaria? Why are so many babies dying within the first year of life? Why are so many women having c-sections? Why aren't we holding people accountable when something goes wrong? Why aren't states tracking and reporting these outcomes so we can improve maternal care in this country? Why is this the case and why aren't we doing more about it?
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200 of 291 people found the following review helpful By M.H. on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is garbage. Shame on the author for her shoddy, biased journalism and junk "science," and shame on Scribner for publishing this "shockingly irresponsible" book - as it was described by the New York Times. In fact, in lieu of my own review, I will include the NY Times book review here; it is spot-on and worded far better than my own would be anyway. PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU BUY THIS CRAP! The dangerously misinformed and paranoid chapter on vaccines is the worst offender, including many unsubstantiated and even blatantly false statements, as the review below describes.

REVIEW: `The Business of Baby,' by Jennifer Margulis

"Americans, you may have noticed, live in a capitalist society. In practical terms, this means someone is often trying to sell us something. John Updike saw a kind of glory in this: "America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy," he wrote. Jennifer Margulis sees a vast conspiracy too, only its purpose is to make you miserable, sick and quite possibly dead, especially if you are a pregnant woman or a new mother.

"In "The Business of Baby," Margulis, a journalist and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, recounts a range of horror stories, from expectant mothers "told to drink an unnaturally sweet and horrible-tasting syrupy beverage" as part of a test for gestational diabetes to women who die after a botched Caesarean section or from an embolism after doctor-ordered bed rest. From start to finish, in ways small and large, the process of having a baby is portrayed as one of humiliation, helplessness and fear on the part of women, and mendacity, greed and contempt on the part of doctors, nurses and anyone employed by companies that make diapers, formula or vaccines.
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