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Pediatrics. 2001 Oct;108(4):E76.

Infantile scurvy: a historical perspective.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. rajakuk@chplink.chp.edu

Abstract

Scurvy, a disease of dietary deficiency of vitamin C, is uncommon today. Among diseases, scurvy has a rich history and an ancient past. The Renaissance (14th to 16th centuries) witnessed several epidemics of scurvy among sea voyagers. In 1747, James Lind, a British Naval surgeon, performed a carefully designed clinical trial and concluded that oranges and lemons had the most antiscorbutic effect. Eventually, with the provision of lemon juice to the sea voyagers, scurvy became rare at sea. Infantile scurvy appeared almost as a new disease toward the end of the 19th century. The increased incidence of infantile scurvy during that period was attributed to the usage of heated milk and proprietary foods. Thomas Barlow described the classic clinical and pathologic features of infantile scurvy in 1883. Between 1907 and 1912, Holst and Frolich induced and cured scurvy in guinea pigs by dietary modification. In 1914, Alfred Hess established that pasteurization reduced the antiscorbutic value of milk and recommended supplementation of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to prevent scurvy. Such pioneering efforts led to the eradication of infantile scurvy in the United States. A brief history of infantile scurvy is provided.

PMID:
11581484
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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