In conversation with cultural historian Lori Rotskoff, Dr. Perri Klass will discuss her new book, A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future. Klass chronicles the scientific discoveries and public health initiatives that dramatically reduced the incidence of infant and child mortality in the U.S. and beyond. Giving voice to everyday mothers as well as trailblazing female doctors, nurses, and pioneering scientists, Klass shows how advances in vaccines, sanitation, and antibiotics revolutionized medical care for children and families over the past century. She also reveals how parenting manuals, children’s nursery rhymes, popular novels, and visual artists depicted common infections and responded to changing threats to babies’ and children’s welfare. Within this triumphant narrative, however, she also points out some disturbing missteps, including eugenics and racist ideas that hampered treatment for impoverished families and people of color. While we are now mostly spared from diseases like measles and tuberculosis, parents face concerns about mental health and anxiety, environmental toxins, vaccine controversies, continued access to affordable healthcare, health issues on college campuses, and COVID-19. Klass makes sense of the often confusing and contradictory health information online and in the news and will also share insights from her wide-ranging career as a pediatrician, journalist, public health advocate, and professor. Time will be reserved for audience online Q&A with the author.
PERRI KLASS, M.D., is a Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University and Co-Director of NYU Florence. She attended Harvard Medical School and completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston. She is a regular columnist in the science section of The New York Times and her medical writing has also appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and the New England Journal of Medicine. She began writing when she was a medical student, authoring two memoirs that have remained in print for over three decades.