The Review and Herald


December 26, 1899

Disease and Its Causes

Care of Children


In this age of degeneracy, children are born with enfeebled constitutions. Parents are amazed at the great mortality among infants and youth, and say, “It did not use to be so.” Children were then more healthy and vigorous, with far less care than is now bestowed upon them. Yet with all the care they now receive, they are feeble, and wither and die. As the result of wrong habits in parents, disease and imbecility have been transmitted to their offspring. RH December 26, 1899, par. 1

After their birth, they are made very much worse by careless inattention to the laws of their being. Proper management would greatly improve their physical health. But parents seldom pursue a right course toward their infant children, considering the miserable inheritance already received from them. Their wrong course toward their children results in lessening their hold of life, and prepares them for premature death. These parents have no lack of love for their children, but this love is misapplied. RH December 26, 1899, par. 2

One great error with the mother in the treatment of her infant is that she allows it an insufficient supply of fresh air, that which it ought to have to make it strong. It is a practice of many mothers to cover their infants’ heads while sleeping, and this, too, in a warm room, which is seldom ventilated as it should be. This alone is sufficient greatly to enfeeble the action of the heart and lungs, thereby affecting the whole system. While care may be needful to protect the infant from a draught of air, or from any sudden or too great change, especial care should be taken to have the child breathe a pure, invigorating atmosphere. No disagreeable odor should remain in the nursery, or about the child. Such things are more dangerous to the feeble infant than to grown persons. RH December 26, 1899, par. 3

Mothers have been in the practice of dressing their infants in reference to fashion instead of health. The infant wardrobe is generally prepared to look pretty, more for show than for convenience and comfort. Much time is spent in embroidering, and in unnecessary fancy work, to make the garments of the little stranger beautiful. The mother often performs this work at the expense of her own health and that of her offspring. When she should be enjoying pleasant exercise, she is often bent over work that severely taxes eyes and nerves. And it is often difficult to arouse the mother to her solemn obligations to cherish her own strength, for her own good as well as for the good of the child. RH December 26, 1899, par. 4

Show and fashion are the demon altar upon which many American women sacrifice their children. The mother places upon the little morsel of humanity the fashionable dresses which she had spent weeks in making, which are wholly unfit for its use, if health is to be regarded of any account. The garments are made extravagantly long; and in order to keep them upon the infant, its body is girted with tight bands, or waists, which hinder the free action of the heart and lungs. Infants are also compelled to bear a needless weight because of the length of their garments; and thus clothed, they do not have free use of their muscles and limbs. RH December 26, 1899, par. 5

Mothers have thought it necessary to compress the bodies of their infant children to keep them in shape, as if fearful that without tight bandages they would fall to pieces, or become deformed. Does the animal creation become deformed because nature is left to do her own work? Do the little lambs become deformed because they are not girted about with bands to give them shape? They are delicately and beautifully formed. Human infants are the most perfect, and yet the most helpless, of all the Creator's handiwork; and, therefore, their mothers should be instructed in regard to physical laws, so as to be capable of rearing them with physical, mental, and moral health. Mothers, nature has given your infants forms which need no girts nor bands to perfect them. God has supplied them with bones and muscles sufficient for their support, and to guard nature's fine machinery within, before committing it to your care. RH December 26, 1899, par. 6

The dress of the infant should be so arranged that its body will not be in the least compressed after taking a full meal. Dressing infants in a fashionable manner, to be introduced into company for visitors to admire, is very injurious to them. The clothing is ingeniously arranged to make the child miserably uncomfortable, and the child is frequently made still more uneasy by being passed from one to the other, being fondled by all. RH December 26, 1899, par. 7

But there is an evil greater than those already named. The infant is exposed to air vitiated by many breaths, some of which are very offensive and injurious to the strong lungs of older persons. The infant lungs suffer, and become diseased by inhaling the atmosphere of a room poisoned with the tobacco user's tainted breath. Many infants are poisoned beyond remedy by sleeping in beds with their tobacco-using fathers. By inhaling the poisonous tobacco effluvium, which is thrown from the lungs and pores of the skin, the system of the infant is filled with the poison. While it acts upon some as a slow poison, and affects the brain, heart, liver, and lungs, and the infant wastes away gradually; upon others it has a more direct influence, causing spasms, fits, paralysis, palsy, and sudden death. RH December 26, 1899, par. 8

The bereaved parents mourn the loss of their loved ones, and wonder at the mysterious providence of God which has so cruelly afflicted them, when Providence designed not the death of these infants. They died martyrs to the filthy lust of tobacco. Parents ignorantly, but none the less surely, kill their infant children by the disgusting poison. Every exhalation of the lungs of the tobacco slave poisons the air about him. Infants should be kept free from everything that would have an influence to excite the nervous system, and should, whether waking or sleeping, day and night, breathe a pure, cleanly, healthy atmosphere, free from every taint of poison. RH December 26, 1899, par. 9