Environmental factors in Tiny Tim's near fatal illness

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.

Journal reference:

Provided by Le Bonheur Children's Hospital

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Could cod liver oil help combat tuberculosis?

Dec 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

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

14 hours ago

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

16 hours ago

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

16 hours ago

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments