SPECIAL ETIOLOGY IN EACH CLASS.
As the child is dependent upon its environment and food for its development and growth, so the cause of these two classes of children can be found in their ante-natal and post-natal nourishment and care.
The cause of the tendency to acidity in the child is hereditary and acquired. The thin, active, restless, nervous mother is apt to have a child feeble in development and with a tendency to acidity. If the mother’s food has been deficient or largely acid or acid forming, the effect upon the child will be to produce the acid constitution. Such a course of diet may render labor easy, but the effect upon the child is disastrous. This class of food, as Dr. Burt, myself and others have found by careful observation and experiment, will cause easy labor, but the children are imperfect. Several were living skeletons and were reared with difficulty. Some were so robbed of the proper nourishment that they were born dead. The effort to make labor easy by restrictive diet is a species of starvation that takes no thought of the child. Fleshy women who grow more fleshy during gestation and lactation have, as a rule, acid children. The acquired form is developed after birth. Sometimes the trouble arises from mistaken kindness, such as giving the new- born child—well-formed and normal–some indigestible or acid food before the milk arrives. It may be only sweetened water, and sometimes it is ill-prepared cow’s milk. At times acidity is caused by starvation. The evaporation of the child tends to decomposes its tissues. The milk may be tardy in making its appearance from fever and is changed, or the mother is active too early and the quality of her scanty milk is deteriorated. It may contain, like cow’s milk, free lactic acid. The milk of blond women seems to undergo that change sooner than that of brunettes. The food, milk or other article may be difficult of digestion, thereby developing the abnormal secretion of the acid stomach digestive elements. In the imperfect child the tendency to acidity is developed easily and early. Exposure and neglect, like lying alone and a long time, etc., tends to generate acidity. Excessive scrubbing has the same tendency. Activity of the child has the tendency to lessen the alkaline secretions. In older children activity, animal food, sweets, foul air, and overstudy are the chief causes in the development of acidity. To this might be added irritation of the growing child. Climate has also a decided influence.
The excessively alkaline child is developed under other circumstances. This tendency is also both congenital and acquired. The mothers of these children are usually in fair flesh, great eaters and drinkers, and of a sluggish disposition. Large mothers have, as a rule, large children, unless they get abnormally fleshy during gestation, when they rob the child of its proper nourishment. Locality and season have much to do with the development of the child; new countries, moist localities and damp seasons to favor excessive infantile development.
The food of the mother that favors excessive infant development is liquid, nitrogenous in character, combined with carbonaceous food that is not readily changed into saccharine matter.
After birth the excessively alkaline child may be so developed by certain food and management. The great appetite of the mother is also apparent in the child. Children that are carried on the arm along the spine are great eaters. It eats large quantities of food and wants it often. It grows rapidly and looks plump. The mother and friends are pleased at the result of this feeding, and encourage it to overeat. The nursing mother often finds that she must take something to make milk. This something is not dilute milk or simple hot water, but is usually beer, that contains so much carbonic gas, gum water and lupulin that the child develops more and more gross or alkaline. Tea does not increase the flesh of children; and sometimes a starchy gruel is preferred that increases the fattening qualities of the mother’s milk. When fed the child is usually given one of the dextrose foods, or condensed milk may be preferred, and even cow’s milk can be taken care of by these children with ample digestive capacity. The result is that they can take large quantities, want to be fed often and take on enormous development.
Bathing in warm water aids the absorption of large quantities of fluids and stimulates the appetite. These fat children like the bath and are indulged.