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TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH'OF M. BbUCHUT,
PETER HINCKES BIRD, F.R.C.S.,
Author of the Jacksontan Prize Essay for 1849—on Erysipelas.
The waste of infant life in our large cities, amounting to forty-five per cent, of the total deaths, need not be insisted upon to enforce the importance of the study of the diseases of children; these affections, moreover, possess much interest, involving as they do a new symptomatology, a new pathology, and a new system of treatment; one is therefore astonished that it is not made a special branch in a course of medical study, but is either cursorily dismissed, or, as is more usually the case, entirely omitted; yet doubtless the student's time might be more profitably employed, as regards the real aim and intention of his profession, in the investigation of these diseases, than in the pursuit of the more minute branches of anatomy, chemistry, or botany.
Notwithstanding that we are in the possession of admirable works by "West, Churchill, <tc, and various monographs on several special affections, English medical literature was yet deficient in a complete treatise on children's diseases, and especially one including those of infants still at the breast, whose frail existence is so frequently menaced. Our continental brethren, enjoying the extensive experience derived from their large hospitals devoted to infantile disease, are far beyond us in all that relates to its pathology; and the work of M. Bouchut, embodying as it does the practice of Professor Trousseau, appearing to me a most practical and perfect treatise, my attention has been directed to its translation, after having obtained the author's sanction.
The first part includes the hygiene and physical education of young children. As prophylaxis, or the prevention of disease, forms the most noble aim of our science, this subject is most important, but it must be owned, is one which has been too much neglected by medical men. In this part lactation by the mother and nurse is fully described, and the important question of the influence of anterior and actual diseases of the nurse on the health of children.
The second part comprises the general pathology of infancy; the external characteristics of infantile disease, and the study of the physiognomy, gesture, attitude, cry, ic, for the diagnosis of these diseases.
In the third part all the diseases to which children are subject, both medical and surgical, will be found systematically arranged and described.
Various notes, distinguished by smaller type with the addition of initials, have been added where there seemed occasion for the expression of the opinions and practice of other continental and English writers; for these I must confess myself much indebted to the work of West, and to the various able articles on pediatrics contained in the Brituh and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Retiew.
The weights and measures have all been reduced to the corresponding English ones, except in some very few instances of tabular arrangement.
P. H. BIRD.
1, Norfolk Square, Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park, Loudon. January, 1855.