Friday, January 16, 2009

History of pedology

Yesterday, we received from Oliver N. Massengale, M.D., several histories of pediatrics in the Pacific Northwest--one book (by Gory Babson, shown here), one speech, and two "vignettes" (these by Massengale).

Herein we are reminded that the specialty devoted to the care of children, though officially recognized by the American Medical Association in 1880, did not settle on a widely accepted name until the 1930s. Often referred to as pediatry or pedology, its practitioners were called pediatrists; the terms "pediatrics" and "pediatrician" finally won out after more than 50 years of linguistic wrangling.

The North Pacific Pediatric Society was established in 1919, making it one of the oldest international medical societies in North America. C. Ulysses Moore, MD, Portland pediatrician, was named temporary chairman until the formal election of Spokane's P.D. McCornack, MD, as the first president.

The American Academy of Pediatrics was founded eleven years later, in 1930. And, wouldn't you know it, it was formed because of a falling out between members of another organization--in this case, the AMA itself. The schism arose over reactions to the federal Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921, which aimed to improve maternal and child health through the mandatory provision of prenatal services. Of course, the AMA proclaimed this act of social medicine "Bolshevistic." When the Pediatric Section of the AMA separately declared its support for the Act, the AMA reprimanded the group and forbade its members from publicly disagreeing with any AMA policy. So, they just formed their own group.

See, if we all just got along, there'd be a lot fewer meetings to attend!

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