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Can Bull Med Hist. 2008;25(2):499-514.

[Ophthalmia neonatorum of the newborn and its treatments in Canadian medical publications: 1872-1985].

[Article in French]

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Université de Montréal.


In the 19th century the occurrence of ophthalmia neonatorum had reached alarming rates in the maternity wards not only of Europe but also across Canada. The impact of this blinding ocular infection on Canadian medicine from 1872 to 1985 is examined through a review of 80 medical journals, books, and lay press articles of that period. The prophylactic and therapeutic use of 2% silver nitrate introduced by Credé in 1880 to prevent neonatal blindness is reviewed. The signs, symptoms, and corneal complications of this disease as well as the multiple ocular drugs used during this era will be presented. The judicial consequences on midwives and obstetricians will be discussed. The subsequent use of colloidal silver based agents such as collargol, protargol and argyrol followed by the introduction of sulfonamides and finally the routine use of prophylactic topical antibiotics will be reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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