Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/440

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PSM V22 D440 Ass milk nursery at the hospital for assisted children in paris.jpg
Ass's Milk Nursery at the Hospital for Assisted Children, Paris.

of the preliminary difficulties in personal instruction and the insufficient number of animals at the disposal of the hospital, the rate of mortality has been greatly reduced. The infants were at first fed with goat's milk, but it was soon found that ass's milk was better for them; and they are now all fed with milk which they draw directly from the teat of the animal. One, two, and sometimes three children are presented to the ass at the same time, being held at the teat in the arms of the nurse, and the operation is performed with wonderful ease. Numbers speak most eloquently of the success of the method. During six months, eighty-six children afflicted with congenital and contagious diseases were fed at the nursery. The first six were fed, by stress of particular circumstances, with cow's milk from the bottle; only one of them recovered. Forty-two were nursed at the teat of the goat; eight recovered, thirty-four died. Thirty-eight were nursed at the teat of the ass; twenty-eight recovered, ten died. In the face of such results there can be hardly any hesitation in declaring that in hospitals, at least, the best method of feeding new-born children, who can not, for any reason, be confided to a nurse, is to put them to suck directly from the teat of an ass. The virtues of ass's milk have not waited for recognition till this late day. Paris and other large cities have, for many years, enjoyed the visits of troops of asses which have been brought in to supply the restorative liquid to the sick and feeble. If we may credit the legend, the use of this milk was introduced into France during the reign of Francis I. That brave monarch had fallen into a state of extreme exhaustion, in consequence of his over-exertion in military and other exercises. His physicians not being able to produce any change in his condition, a Jew was brought from Constantinople, who prescribed simply a beverage of ass's milk; he took it, according to the chronicle, and became better. Ass's milk owes the advantages which it possesses over that of goats to its chemical composition, the distinguishing feature of which is that it contains less plastic substance and butter than goat's milk. Like mother's milk, it