Cynthia H. Cole (ed) THE HARRIET LANE HANDBOOK 10th Edition Chicago: Yearbook Medical Publishers, Inc., 1984, 377 pages, $22.95
As a hospital'based pediatrician, I have religiously and sequentially carried the last few editions of this handy volume in my white lab-coat pocket. It must be a rare pediatric resident who does not also carry around this concise pocket-size manual which serves as a source of drug dosages, normal laboratory values, and descriptions of diagnostic tests.
Among the changes in this volume from the last edition that I noted was the expansion of the normal serum creatinine values from four age-groups to seven age-groups with gender differentiation as well. Instead of listing the normal range per age group, the current volume lists only the upper limits of normal, a more useful way of thinking of this laboratory value.
The editors of this volume (the resident staff at Johns Hopkins) also finally spotted the fact that the previous editions incorrectly said that the normal serum cholesterol for children 2 to 16 years of age was up to 250 mg/dl. Now this has been corrected with a gender-specific table, indicating the normal upper limits for serum cholesterol and triglycerides by 5-year groups, indicating that adolescent males should have a serum cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dl.
I do have some suggestions for the editors of the next edition, and that is to look again at the hematology normal values. What are needed are normal absolute neutrophil and lymphocyte counts, rather than a listing of a range of percentages, which is not really very useful, as the range of total leukocyte counts is quite broad. Also, although the hemoglobin is plotted as a curve against age, during puberty hemoglobin is more directly proportional to the Tanner staging, and that would be a more useful curve.
My suggestions just indicate that there will probably be no end of new editions of this extremely useful, succinctly written, and conveniently-sized manual. The house staff who have been editing this handbook since 1953 deserve the thanks from the now many generations of pediatric residents and staff who have found this book an essential part of their practice.