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Med Lav. 2013 Jul-Aug;104(4):296-318.

["On professions considered as a cause of disease" (1849) by Enrico de Betta. The first Italian modern discussion on diseases and work].

[Article in Italian]

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  • 1Medico del lavoro.


The doctoral dissertation in Pavia in 1849 by Enrico de Betta is presented as a well-constructed, comprehensive and modern discussion of diseases ascribable to work. 150 years after Ramazzini's treatise, Enrico de Betta, through an updated knowledge of contemporary literature especially French and German, refreshed and renewed the knowledge inherited from Ramazzini in the light of the changes introduced with the beginnings of industrial hygiene and the first steps taken in occupational epidemiology. In the introduction to the text and accompanying notes, the authors offer an interpretation of the significance of overcoming the main Ramazzinian paradigms. This takes into account the current debate, especially in the French cultural sphere, on the meaning of autonomy and complementarity of the various disciplines that are the foundations of the protection and promotion of the health conditions of the working classes. It is suggested therefore that a simplistic view of Ramazzini as the unique 'father" of modern occupational health and safety at work needs to be abandoned. The work of de Betta does not seem to have had much success in Italy. The debate and interventions on the relationship between diseases and work still had to wait half a century to produce effects, but this took place in a very different context, that of Giolitti's era.

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