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Looking Back on 75 Years of Pediatrics: What We Got Wrong!

August 23, 2023

This year is the 75th anniversary of Pediatrics, and we are celebrating it by providing written contributions to reflect and learn from our past as we look to the future of our journal and our profession. We have created a website with essays written by councils, committees, and sections of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that identify key articles in Pediatrics throughout the 75 years of the journal. These essays are fascinating to read and provide a history of major contributions to our field. Another contribution for our 75th anniversary is a special article summarizing how the journal has changed its content and appearance over the most recent 25 years, adding to a similar article that captured the first 50 years.

This month, we are releasing a special article (10.1542/peds.2023-062806) for our anniversary year—one that does not herald the incredible array of discoveries and innovations that have advanced the health of children, but instead, one that looks back at articles that have not stood the test of time. The authors of these studies did not practice “bad science” but embraced incorrect beliefs current at the time that are no longer credible today based on subsequent science published in Pediatrics. Dr. Andrea Cruz from Baylor, who serves as Associate Editor for our section Diagnostic Dilemmas and Clinical Reasoning and Dr. Jeffrey Baker from Duke, who serves as Assistant Editor for our Historical Features section, identified 8 articles over 75 years that as their special article title indicates provide “Forgotten Pediatrics: 8 Disturbing Windows on the Past.” Drs. Cruz and Baker review studies that are not valid related to such topics as intellectually disability, juvenile delinquency, gender diversity, and sudden infant death. They also remind us how race was for many years considered a biologic variable rather than a social construct, how newborn screening was initially frowned upon by pediatricians, how pediatricians were misunderstood on what was appropriate car seat safety, and discussions on sexism. 

This article is also a great way to reflect on what and why we do what we do to provide health care to our pediatric patients and families as we move forward toward the journal’s centennial in 2048. Happy 75th anniversary Pediatrics!  

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