Caring for the premature infant has been on the cutting edge of pediatrics for decades. The problems confronting these infants challenge clinicians and basic scientists, pushing technologies and ethics to the limit. The survivability of ever smaller infants has provoked physicians and judges to struggle with the very definition of life itself. For the pediatric house officer, working with the premature can be the most exacting (try starting an intravenous infusion on a 750-g infant), exhausting, and frustrating part of a residency. Yet the difficulties these infants face are frequently surmountable.
The challenge presented by the premature infant is a worthy historical subject, and Thomas Cone, who has previously written Two Hundred Years of Feeding Infants in America (1976) and A History of American Pediatrics (1979), is to be congratulated for tackling this difficult topic. Historians have only ventured occasionally into this area, so Cone's book is a welcomed addition.