Illnesses in young children

A fuller note on constipation is given under ILLNESSES OF CinLDHOOD AND YOUTH, but two or three special points in connection with the very young child are dealt with here. (I) Regularity of habit from birth is a great safeguard against constipation. Hold baby out at the same times every day, and persist on each occasion until a motion occurs. (ii) Baby requires plenty of exercise. Allow him to kick freely with his napkin removed several times a day. (iii) If baby is constipated, rub the abdomen gently before holding him out, beginning at the right groin, up to the ribs, across just above the navel and down the left side. Do this for five minutes or so. (iv) Constipation is much commoner in bottle-fed than breast-fed children. There may be too little cream, or excess of cream. The first thing to do is to investigate the food. (v) If laxatives are required, it is better first to consult a doctor. Small aips of boiled water, and fruit juice (particularly orango juice) should early be established asroutine items of diet. Liquid paraffin, being a lubricant only, is perhaps the safest aid to easy motion. Magnesia is safe. (vi) A purge, such as castor oil, 13 invaluable for ridding the system of any poison; that is why it is used when diarrhcoa begins. But its action is constipating, and it should never be used regularly. (vii) It is better to give onemas under medical direction. Six ounces of soapy water, a teaspoonful of plain glycerine, a piece of yellow soap shaped like the top of ones finger are useful aids in emergency, but they are bad habits. (viii) Always regard constipation in infants as serious. Constipation is the chief cause of fiatulonce and colic, and may at any moment turn to diarrhoea. Allowed to become persistent in these early months, it may prove a lifelong cause of depression and low health, or give rise to serious diseases of the digestive system.




Crying. Because a baby cries it does not necessarily mean that he is in pain or requires attention. A lusty bawl now and then is necessary. It is a kind of lung gymnastics – the only one possible in the circumstances – and helps to make the lungs strong and to develop the chest.

There are, however, sovoral cries in-dicative of trouble. The cry of intestinal ailment is often accompanied by wriggling and writhing. The cry of croup is harsh, hoarse, and metallic, with a crowing inspiration. Exhaustion is shown by a whine. Passionate or long-continued crying may be duo to oaracho.

The cry of hunger is a wailing cry, and unaccompanied by tears; of sleepiness, a drowsy cry; when roused from sleep, a shrill cry; a cry of pain is short, sharp, and piercing. When seriously ill, a child will cry moaningly, and should there be any brain trouble, the cry is a piercing shriek, happily soldom heard.

Do not take baby up every timo he cries, or you will instil into him a restless disposition, and he will soon realize that he is master of the situation.

Deafness. In severe earache it is wise to consult a doctor, especially if there is any sign of discharge, or deafness may

FOOD ensue. Hot fomentations placed just behind the ear will often relieve pain. Wax in the ears may cause temporary hardness of hearing. The ears should be gently syringed with warm water and a little glycerine or olive oil, after which a plug of cotton-wool should be gently inserted and allowed to remain all night. In the morning this must be taken out and the ears syringed with warm water, when the softened wax will usually come away.

Adenoids are a source of deafness, and should be removed as soon as possible. If a child breathes through the mouth there is evidence that something is wrong, and a doctor should be consulted without delay. Enlarged tonsils will also causo deafness.


Ears, Prominent. Little can be done for this defect. It is a question whether ear-caps for the purpose of keeping the ears pressed closer to the head do not exert a harmful pressure. It certainly should not be persisted in if it causes the slightest soreness, redness, or other discomfort. Be specially careful when laying baby down to sleep to see that the ear is not crumpled to one sido, but lying flat and close back to the head in its natural position. For a similar reason do not hold him against you with the ear all crumpled up.

Eyes. Babies are liable to eye troubles or defects in sight from birth. The eyes of a newly-born child must be carefully cleaned with cotton wool or gauze and warm, boiled water or a boric lotion; and one drop of a 2-per-cent. Solution of nitrate of silver should be dropped into each eye.

This careful cleaning of the eyes should be continued for some time as a preventive of infantile ophthalmia, an infectious germ disease, often caused before birth. If any redness or swelling of the eyelids shows itself, especially during the first week or so, or if there is any mattery discharge from the eyes, consult the doctor.

Babys eyes during the first few days cannot stand a strong light, and he mast be protected from glare. After that care is needed that his cot does not face a window or stand in such a position that bright sunlight may pour full into his eyes. He should not be allowed to stare at bright, glittering objects. H he early shows a tendency to look at books (some children begin to read in the second year), the print should be large (½ inch to ½ inch) and the pictures of large objects without detail. At birth babys eyes can distinguish light and darkness, but not objects. Up to the third month or so eye movements are irregular, one eye is moved independently of the other, and baby often appeara to be squinting. Objects are noticed in the third week or so, colours in the second month; it is years before clear notions of distance are obtained, children remaining more or less longsighted.

Food and Feeding. A doctor has said: If all the babies of England of to-day were breast fed and only breast fed for the first eight months, the effect in the course of one generation would be very obvious. There would be a tremondous increase in the number of children who survive the first year … an almost complete disappearance of rickets and all its associated conditions . . . probably a great decrease in tuberculous diseases of children. Above all there would be a magnificent increase in the number of thoroughly healthy boys and girls. . . . There is no perfect substitute for mothers milk, upon which alone it is desirable for a child to be fed during the first eight or nine months of his life. The nearest substitute is cows milk, and this has two grave defects. Milk contains two proteins, casein and lact-albumin. Casein forms a curd in the stomach. Cows milk not only contains more casein than mothers milk, but this casein forms a firmer curd.

So cows milk has to be diluted with water to render it digestible, and then there is a deficiency of lact-alburain, fab and sugar. Further, mothers milk may be considered sterile, that is, free from microbes. Cows milk, in spite of our elaborate modern precautions, our spotless large dairies, bottling, pasteurization, and grading – can never be so considered.