The Review and Herald


January 2, 1900

Disease and Its Causes

Care of Children


Another great cause of mortality among infants and youth is the custom of leaving their arms and shoulders naked. This fashion can not be too severely censured. It has cost the life of thousands. The air, bathing the arms and limbs, and circulating about the armpits, chills these sensitive portions of the body so near the vitals, and hinders the healthy circulation of the blood, thus inducing disease, especially of the lungs and brain. Those who regard the health of their children of more value than the foolish flattery of visitors or the admiration of strangers, will ever clothe the shoulders and arms of their tender infants. The mother's attention has been frequently called to the purple arms and hands of her child, and she has been cautioned in regard to this health- and life-destroying practice; and the answer has often been, “I always dress my children in this manner. They get used to it. I can not endure to see the arms of infants covered. It looks old-fashioned.” These mothers dress their delicate infants as they would not venture to dress themselves. They know that if their own arms were exposed without a covering, they would shiver with chilliness. Can infants of a tender age endure this process of hardening without receiving injury? Some children may have at birth such strong constitutions that they can endure this abuse without its costing them life; yet thousands are sacrificed, and tens of thousands have the foundation laid for a short, invalid life, by the custom of bandaging and surfeiting the body with much clothing, while the arms—which are at greater distance from the seat of life, and for that cause need even more clothing than the chest and lungs—are left naked. Can mothers expect to have quiet, healthy infants, who thus treat them? RH January 2, 1900, par. 1

When the limbs and arms are chilled, the blood is driven from these parts to the lungs and head. The circulation is impeded, and nature's fine machinery does not move harmoniously. The system of the infant is deranged, and it cries and moans because of the abuse it is compelled to suffer. The mother feeds it, thinking it must be hungry, but food only increases its suffering. Tight bands and an overloaded stomach do not agree. The child has no room to breathe. It may scream, struggle and pant for breath, and yet the mother not mistrust the cause. She could relieve the sufferer at once, at least of tight bandages, if she understood the nature of the case. At length she becomes alarmed, thinks her child really ill, and summons a doctor, who looks upon the infant a few moments, and then deals out poisonous medicines, or something called a soothing cordial, which the mother, faithful to directions, pours down the throat of the abused infant. If it was not diseased in reality before, it is after this process. It suffers now from drug-disease, the most stubborn and incurable of all diseases. If it recovers, it must bear about more or less in its system the effects of that poisonous drug, and it is liable to spasms, heart-disease, dropsy on the brain, or consumption. Some infants are not strong enough to bear even a trifle of drug poisons; and as nature rallies to meet the intruder, the vital forces of the tender infant are too severely taxed, and death ends the scene. RH January 2, 1900, par. 2

In this age of the world, it is no strange sight to see the mother lingering by the cradle of her suffering, dying infant, her heart torn with anguish as she listens to its feeble wail, and witnesses its expiring struggles. It seems mysterious to her that God should thus afflict her innocent child. She does not think that her wrong course has brought about the sad result. She just as surely destroyed her infant's hold on life as if she had given it poison. Disease never comes without a cause. The way is first prepared, and disease invited, by disregarding the laws of health. God does not take pleasure in the sufferings and death of little children. He commits them to parents, for them to educate physically, mentally, and morally, and to train for usefulness here, and for heaven at last. RH January 2, 1900, par. 3

If the mother remains in ignorance in regard to the physical needs of her child, and, as the result, her child sickens, she need not expect that God will work a miracle to counteract her agency in making it sick. Thousand of infants have died who might have lived. They are martyrs to their parents’ ignorance of the relation which food, dress, and the air they breathe, sustain to health and life. Mothers in past ages should have been physicians to their own children. The time the mother devoted to the extra beautifying of her infant's wardrobe, she should have spent in a nobler purpose—in educating her mind with regard to her own physical needs and those of her offspring. She should have been storing her mind with useful knowledge in regard to the best course she could pursue in rearing her children healthfully, realizing that generations would be injured or benefited by her course of action. RH January 2, 1900, par. 4

Mothers who have troublesome, fretful infants should study into the cause of their uneasiness. By so doing, they will often see that something is wrong in their management. It is often the case that the mother becomes alarmed at the symptoms of illness manifested by her child, and hurriedly summons a physician, when the infant's sufferings would have been relieved by taking off its tight clothing, and putting upon it garments properly loose and short, thus allowing it the use of its feet and limbs. Mothers should study from cause to effect. If the child has taken cold, it is generally owing to the wrong management of the mother. If she covers its head as well as its body while sleeping, in a short time it will be in a perspiration, caused by labored breathing, because of the lack of pure, vital air. When she takes it from beneath the covering, it is almost sure to take cold. The arms being naked, exposes the infant to constant cold, and congestion of lungs or brain. These exposures prepare the way for the infant to become sickly and dwarfed. RH January 2, 1900, par. 5