Among the list of 100 most powerful Chicagoans, as picked by Chicago magazine, sit politicians, millionaires, CEOs, and one physician.
Marc Weissbluth, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics, was “completely surprised” to see his name rounding out the list at number 100 – immediately following President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
For the man who founded the original Sleep Disorders Center at Children’s Memorial Hospital in 1982, Weissbluth hopes his place on the power 100 increases the reach of his research.
“Sleep is as important as calcium, protein, clean water, and clean air,” Weissbluth said. “When children get enough sleep, the child directly benefits and the family indirectly benefits. Most parents of newborns desperately want their baby to sleep better so that they might sleep better themselves. They don’t necessarily understand the direct health benefits to the child.”
His seminal findings, published 30 years ago, followed a seven-year study on the importance of daytime sleep and the timing of putting children to bed. Weissbluth linked sleep to temperament and infant colic, and coined the phrase “sleep training.” His first book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, was published in 1987. Three editions later, it remains a must-have for many new parents.
“Parents understand the importance of good nutrition, wearing helmets, and brushing teeth, but to this day many don’t understand the importance of healthy sleep habits,” said Weissbluth, a father of four. “It’s still a bit under the radar for many parents and many pediatricians.”
Weissbluth earned his medical degree at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 1970 before arriving at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine more than 36 years ago. He admits that the addition of computers as a tool for parenting has changed the way he works as a pediatrician, and his latest book, Sleep Consult, is only available in an electronic format.
“The availability of medical information for parents on the Internet has made them more informed because the information is more accessible,” said Weisssbluth, who credits wife, Linda, with teaching him more about parenting than anyone else. “The Internet provides an advantage for parents to learn more, but occasionally they get misinformation that we have to correct.”
Weissbluth continues to see patients as a member of the Northwestern Children’s Practice, where he works alongside his son Daniel Weissbluth, MD, instructor in clinical pediatrics, who he co-wrote Sleep Consult with.