Environmental factors in Tiny Tim's near fatal illness

March 16, 2012

Le Bonheur Professor Russell Chesney, M.D. believes he knows what was ailing Tiny Tim, the iconic character from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Based on detailed descriptions of both the symptoms and living conditions of 18th century London, Dr. Chesney hypothesizes that Tiny Tim suffered from a combination of rickets and tuberculosis (TB). His findings were published in the March 5 edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Dr. Chesney noted during the time the novel was written, 60 percent of children in London had rickets and nearly 50 percent displayed signs of TB. He says this is due to crowded living conditions, poor diets, filth and low exposure to sunlight. The coal-burning city of London in addition to particles from a Indonesian volcanic eruption contributed to blackened skies for many years.

Both rickets and TB can be improved and indeed cured through increased exposure to Vitamin D, which can be obtained through exposure to sunlight and a .

As the Ghost of Christmas Present showed Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim's condition would be fatal without a different course for the boy. According to Dr. Chesney's research, Scrooge could have ensured an improved diet, sunshine exposure and (a common supplement of the day high in Vitamin D) through improved generosity to Bob Cratchit and his family.

Explore further: Could cod liver oil help combat tuberculosis?

Related Stories

Could cod liver oil help combat tuberculosis?

December 20, 2011

A review of a historical study from 1848 reveals that cod liver oil was an effective treatment for tuberculosis, says Professor Sir Malcolm Green in the Christmas issue published on in the British Medical Journal today.

Recommended for you

Can nicotine protect the aging brain?

September 20, 2016

Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself—when given independently ...

Science can shape healthy city planning

September 23, 2016

Previous studies have shown a correlation between the design of cities and growing epidemics of injuries and non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A three-part series published in The Lancet ...

50-country comparison of child and youth fitness levels

September 21, 2016

An international research team co-led from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of North Dakota studied the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth across 50 countries. The results are ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.