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Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group. (Pp 897; £60.) RCPCH Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-900954-68-0.
The first edition of Medicines for Children was published in 1999 and the second edition is a timely replacement. Produced by a partnership of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group, the editorial board has the support of 75 contributors and 60 reviewers ensuring this publication is both authoritative and comprehensive.
The preface gives useful information on paediatric prescribing issues including the use of unlicensed medicines, providing information for children and families, breast feeding, and drug interactions. In addition, systems based guidelines which are balanced but of necessity not always comprehensive cover the majority of paediatric practice. More information on prescribing errors and how to avoid them would be a useful addition to this section in the next edition.
The main body of the book contains alphabetically listed drug monographs presented in a standard format. They include a description, use, presentation, and dosage of each drug. Most monographs provide dosage by age and route of administration, usually in tabular form. The layout of these data are clear and easy to use and enhanced by the use of green shading.
Medicines for Children has rapidly become the gold standard for paediatric prescribing practice in the UK. I like the presentation and style, particularly the use of the Royal College dark green on the cover and to highlight each section as it has a calming and authoritative effect. Inevitably the book will have a short shelf life as prescribing practice changes rapidly so keeping costs to a minimum is important if it is to be widely used. At £60 it is expensive compared with the British National Formulary and this will, I fear, limit the numbers of copies available in paediatric units.