When her son was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1991, Joanne Stanton began building a knowledge base about pediatric cancer. In particular, she became curious about how environmental factors impact children’s health.
Now, more than 25 years later, the college of public health alumna has published a book on the topic.
Written for general audiences, Behind Closed Doors: Uncovering the Practices Harming Our Children’s Health and What We Can Do About It contains a mix of anecdotes from Stanton, co-author Christine O’Donnell, and other parents about their experiences with various health-related topics, further resources and ways that readers can affect public policy.
Stanton, who received her bachelor of science in public health in 2003, spent decades researching the topics. In the book, she explores potential health risks from food and pharmaceutical industries and changes to the environment, as well as the impacts of political lobbying, government regulation and a lack of transparency in the effects of ingredients or components in consumer products.
She has aimed the book chiefly at mothers, whom she says are often overburdened with keeping tabs on potential hazards like harmful chemicals in foods and household products. Stanton said she also wanted to explore another question that arose from a discussion with another parent: why do children today seem to be sicker—or at least receive more diagnoses—than those in previous generations? While she notes it may be the result of better medical knowledge and testing capabilities, her experiences as a mother and stories from others inspired her to research the topics.
“We wanted to keep it really easy to read, simple, for the everyday mom but try to give them some of the information mixed in with the heartfelt stories they could really relate to,” said Stanton.