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Harvard medical professor T. Berry Brazelton to be honored by President Obama

Posted by Your Town  February 14, 2013 02:52 PM

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Harvard Medical Professor Dr. T. Berry Brazelton has been named a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, an award that will be given to him by President Obama on Friday.

The 94-year-old Boston doctor, author, and professor developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, used around the world to assess newborns’ physical and psychological responsiveness, as well as emotional well-being and individual differences.

“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”

The Citizens Medal is the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, according to the statement. Out of 6,000 people who were nominated, 18 were selected for the award.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” Dr. Brazelton said of winning the award.

Dr. Brazelton said he is particularly looking forward to sharing his thoughts on children’s healthcare with Obama.

“This is an opportunity to talk to him about early childhood care and how opportune it is to think about starting early to prevent child abuse and substance abuse,” he said.

Brazelton is perhaps best known for helping to develop the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which is used across the world to detect the “physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as their emotional well-being and individual differences,” according to the White House.

“A tireless advocate for families with young children, Dr. Brazelton has been a leading force behind the pediatric healthcare revolution that opened hospital doors to parents and empowered them to become active participants in their children’s care,” according to his biography on the White House website.

Among the others chosen include Patience Lehrman, the National Director of Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders), Jeanne Manford, the co-founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and Billy Mills, the co-founder and spokesman for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that provides housing and health assistance for Native American communities.

Obama is also honoring six of the seven women who were killed in the Newtown, Conn., shooting: Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, and Dawn Hochsprung. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the gunman, is not being recognized at the ceremony.

In 1969, the Citizens Medal was established to “recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens,” the statement said. “President Obama is recognizing Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention.”

According to the White House, Brazelton is considered one of the “foremost” experts on child development and pediatrics. He has published more than 200 scholarly papers, and has written 40 books on child development, pediatrics, and parenting.

In 1993, he established the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, which promotes quality health care for infants and young children regardless of their life circumstances.

Brazelton has testified before Congressional committees, and substantially contributed to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees three months of maternity leave. He also played a crucial role in the enactment of Public Law 99457, which “extends the rights and protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to young children.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

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