Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/238

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
226
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

raised without breast-milk, those who have been weaned too early or too hastily, or those to whom, on account of the failure of the mother's milk, other foods have been injudiciously administered. Under other circumstances than these, children enjoy a complete immunity."

The artificial feeding of infants often results from physical inability on the part of the mother to nurse them, and this inability in turn is the result of defective heredity. "The mother makes the child," and the mother's weakness ofttimes results in the death of the child, or even of the children's children.

When we turn to consider the merits of the different forms of artificial feeding, we realize the intimate relation of improper feeding to the next cause, namely, filth. Cow's milk, the most common and generally advisable substitute for mother's milk, when exposed to the air at a summer temperature, soon ferments and develops a peculiar poison known as tyrotoxicon, which is a most potent factor in the causation of cholera infantum. It is also, says Prof. Lister, "a pabulum for all kinds of organisms; nearly all varieties of bacteria will live in it." In addition to this, it often absorbs and becomes the carrier of various other forms of filth, both organic and inorganic, all of which either directly or indirectly increase the tendency to disease. These evil results may be avoided, in a large measure at least, by the modern process of sterilization of milk, whereby existing germs are destroyed, air excluded, and fermentation prevented.

But filth may be introduced in other ways than in milk or food of any kind; and, however introduced, its effects are always disastrous. Says Mr. Simon: "Nothing in medicine is more certain than the general meaning of high diarrhœal rates. The mucous membrane of the intestinal canal is the excreting surface to which nature directs all the accidental putridities which enter us. Whether they have been breathed, or drunk, or eaten, it is there that they settle and act. As wine gets into the head, so these agents get into the blood. There, as their universal result, they tend to produce diarrhœa."

In August, 1883, the health-officer of New Haven, Conn., in a paper entitled "A Practical Argument for Sewers," reported the following, which well illustrates the evil effects of impure air: "There were forty-three deaths in New Haven from infantile diarrhœa in July. The forty-three deaths occurred in thirty-two different streets and in thirty-eight different, houses. But the most remarkable fact is that thirty-four of the forty-three victims were living upon streets in which there is no public sewer, and in houses about which are still tolerated those beastly abominations called cess-pools and privy-vaults. In most of the nine cases where the houses had sewer connections, they were only for kitchen and