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Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys,…

Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical…

by Susan Cohen, Christine Cosgrove (Author)

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389477,878 (4.06)2
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.… (more)



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95% about short boys and maybe 5% about tall girls. Mostly about hGH. It got kind of boring after awhile. ( )
  lemontwist | Aug 17, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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, the authors review the methods, both physical and pharmaceutical, which have been used to make girls shorter and boys taller. In the end, it seems that the authors indict "big pharma" for the very same reasons they are criticized for so much they do: creating medical conditions where none exist and manipulating parents and their children into buying drugs for conditions which are part of the natural order of things.

As one Stanford researcher said: "All of these levels are arbitrary, and it was as good an arbitrary point as any. And no endocrinologist contested that, because we were all anxious to open up the opportunity of growth hormone therapy to as many children as possible."

Using personal stories to show the unintended effects these drugs have had on those who've taken them really makes the book come alive. Sometimes these stories are heartwarming, in other cases they are devastating. ( )
  redwoodhs | Sep 14, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A fascinating and somewhat frightening look into society's definition of "normalcy" and appearance. Without being dry or too scientific, the authors present a compelling case against medication or treatment for height, appearance, etc. Reading this reminded me of a boy from elementary school who was quite small for his age. He was treated with a variety of horrifying-sounding remedies and ended up being a man of short stature who probably would have been better off if he'd just been left alone. A very readable and accessible book. ( )
  neilandlisa | Jul 23, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Normal At Any Cost tells the story of how the definition of "normal" in relation to one's society can end up costing much more than simply psychological damage. I entered puberty shortly after the events in this book took place, and as I'm considered tall for a woman, I'm thankful my parents didn't feel the pressure to force me to conform to what society thought a girl should look like. This book is a warning to all parents - we want the best for our children, but sometimes that means leaving them alone. ( )
  lpmejia | Jul 7, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a fascinating read. It leads the reader through the history of manipulating the height of young children. Cohen and Cosgrove write a book that is incredibly readible. I find most scientific books to be slightly boring, however these ladies manage to make an otherwise boring subject matter seem fascinating. I will definitely err on the side of caution when giving my children any medication which promises cosmetic results in the future as a result of these women's reporting.
  ejd0626 | May 29, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Cohenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cosgrove, ChristineAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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