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Friday, December 12, 2014

What was really wrong with Tiny Tim in Dickens Christmas Carol ?

I have been reading a book on Dickens Christmas Carol and one section covered what was really wrong with Tiny Tim because Dickens never really said what his disease was. So these scholars have been trying to figure it out and one in 2012 came up with the definitive answer. Rickets and tuberculosis. Two diseases we don't have any more but the way he figured it out is very interesting.
Rickets is a caused by a vitamin D deficiency.

In the early 1800s in London this was a common malady among poor children. There was no fortified milk of course and so during the long London winters Vitamin D became a real problem. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D in the body and London doesn't have much of that to begin with . But add to that the horrible pollution where ash covered the skies of London especially in the poorer sections where Tiny Tim lived.

Rickets causes the bones to get soft and the seventeenth century answer was iron braces for the legs. Which Tiny Tim had. There were no dairy products and the diet of porridge or gruel or meatless soup gave no relief. Add to this in the early industrial age the children worked in dark factories or mines. Tuberculosis was the bonus from breathing air full of soot with no penicillan to stop an infection.

So drink your milk lest  you end up like poor Tiny Tim and be thankful you can see the sun.

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Books by William Hazelgrove