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When There's a Doctor In the House

Choices About Childcare

On a variety of topics, doctors found that their opinions changed when faced with the issue at home. Dr. Brown's husband, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, was adamant that their two children not use pacifiers. But once they brought home their oldest, Andy, it didn't take long for him to soften his hard-line position. "Our first night at home, Andy was screaming bloody murder for three hours straight," she recalls. "My husband kept asking me, 'You're the pediatrician, what's wrong with him?' Finally, he went to Walgreens at 2 a.m. and brought home a pacifier. You come to the table with ideas that go right out the window."

On the issue of circumcision, the doctors we spoke with say that their views have changed through the years. When his sons were born, Dr. Greene had them circumcised without much deliberation. Since then, however, he's reconsidered. "I don't see that the medical advantages justify it. Yes, circumcision might make urinary tract infections and HIV harder to contract, but that doesn't outweigh the fact that the reproductive organs were designed to work with the foreskin intact. Now, I would let my children decide for themselves as adults."

Dr. Brown also decided ahead of time to circumcise her son, as was the norm in the 1990s. "I don't feel as strongly about it anymore. There are subtle medical advantages, but I've gotten more gray on the topic over the years," she says. "Now, I tell patients that it's a personal choice."

One issue that's nonnegotiable for pediatricians in their own homes is safety. "One of the most important things to me was that my kids always be in car seats," says Dr. Desrochers. "One time my father wanted to drive the children home from church five blocks away. But he didn't have car seats, so I wouldn't let him do it." She learned the hard way about childproofing when her 9-month-old son tumbled down the stairs. The stair gates went up the next day. "The baby was fine, but my husband and I were so upset," she says.