PROGNOSIS IN PREMATURITY
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some metabolic, processes. The evolution of theresearch is a striking example of the way in whichwork in one field will dovetail into that in another,apparently unrelated. Not content with his nowfamiliar observation that the sedimentation rateof the blood-cells is greatly increased in pregnancyand certain pathological conditions, FAHRAEUSestablished agglutination as the cause and exam-ined the various factors controlling this. They arenumerous, and among the chief seem to be theconcentration of globulin and fibrinogen in the
plasma; these substances, it is suggested, tend toneutralise the negative electrostatic charge carriedby the corpuscles which normally maintains themin a state of mutual repulsion.One of the most fruitful lines of inquiry was the
relation of stasis to agglutination, leading directlyto an appreciation of the important of BARCROFT’swork on the reservoir function of the spleen andits possible physiological association with pre-haemolytic changes. KNISELY’s analysis of thesplenic circulation suggested to FAHRAEUS’s quickmind that since stasis must be’ associated ,with a
reduction of the erythrocyte-plasma interface, thissurface change and not the mere lack of mobilitymight be determining corpuscular deterioration.Put to the test, this inspiration proved to be wellfounded and led on to the possible solution ofother problems. FAHRAEUS suggests that reductionof the interface may not be a local affair concern-ing only the spleen, where a special mechanismoperates to separate the cells from the plasma, butmay be significant in conditions such as anaemiaand those in which rouleaux-formation occurs inthe general circulation. To the uninitiated it mightseem that this condition would tend to correct
itself, since one of the signs of corpuscular damageis a diminished tendency to agglutinate, butFAHRAEUS thinks this tendency is masked by thepowerful agglutinating influence of such factors asincreased globulin concentration. His experimentscertainly make it probable that the anti-agglutina-tive properties conferred by plasma-separation areby no means negligible, and must lead us to inquirehow far the spleen contributes to the normal sus-pension stability of the blood.
DIAGNOSIS OF SHOCK
AT the present time the early diagnosis of shock isof the highest importance, for it is only in the earlystages of shock that treatment is of any value. Nowthat blood-transfusion services have been organisedit has become more necessary than ever to differ-entiate between haemorrhage, which requires trans-fusion, and shock, in which there is already anexcessive concentration of the red cells. On another
page Mr. Layton suggests some guides to practicein dealing with abdominal wounds. Moon,1 frompublished observations and his own experiments,demonstrates that the earliest sign of impendingshock is a rising concentration of the blood as revealedby haemoglobin estimation, by red-cell counts and bydetermination of the specific gravity of the blood.Haemoconcentration often takes place even whenthe blood-pressure is 1’ising; but if this happens asubsequent (possibly fatal) fall in blood-pressure canbe prophesied with certainty. In haemorrhage, onthe other hand, a mechanism is at work which tendsto restore the blood-volume to normal by absorptioninto the circulation of tissue fluids ; this results indilution of the blood and falling haemoglobin valuesand red-cell counts. A difficulty is encountered whenshock and haemorrhage coexist ; here, owing to theloss of red cells the haemoconcentration is com-
paratively slight in relation to the clinical signs ofshock. A haemoglobin estimation, though not con-sidered as reliable as a red-cell count, is the quickestmeans of verifying the existence of excessive con-centration of the blood, and treatment of the woundedcan readily be based upon its result. Thus a fallinghaemoglobin indicates the need for blood-transfusion,whereas a rapidly rising value shows the need foranti-shock measures such as " forced fluids " bvmouth or rectum. Plasma transfusion-an attemptto maintain the plasma volume, and a more or lessstationary haemoglobin percentage, in the presenceof obvious clinical signs of shock-represents a
combination of the two forms of treatment.
1. Moon, V. H., Ann. Surg. August, 1939, p. 260.
PROGNOSIS IN PREMATURITY
THERE are many difficulties in any large-scalefollow-up study of prematurely born children, notthe least of which is the tendency of parents to movehouse after an increase in family, especially whenthis is the result of a first-born. R. S. Illingworthhas surmounted this difficulty however in an ingeniousfashion, relying upon the well-known memory ofmothers for the birth-weight of their offspring. Hehas kept records of 152 consecutive children above theage of one year who at birth weighed 5 pounds orless, irrespective of the alleged duration of gestation,and compared them with similar records of 152consecutive children who at birth weighed 8 poundsor more. The children were attending the outpatientdepartment of the Hospital for Sick Children, GreatOrmond Street, for a wide variety of ailments ; all,irrespective of ailment, were included in the seriesexcept for four, two in each group, who were sufferingfrom such a gross defect as to make their inclusionunprofitable. Illingworth records 1 the results ofhis studies in various ways, the most important beingconcerned with the effect of birth-weight upon theweight chart. Previous studies had suggested thatthe weight curve of prematurely born infants tendedto catch up to the normal at about the age of fouryears. Illingworth finds, however, that in his series86 per cent. of all the premature infants were under-weight at all ages (1 to 12) and only one child in thewhole series of 150 fell into the 5 pounds or moreoverweight group. Actually the control series showed34 per cent. underweight but most of these werewithin 5 pounds of the normal, whereas over 21 percent. of the premature series were 10 pounds or moreunderweight as compared with 1.33 per cent. of thecontrol series. Illingworth concludes that prematuritymust be considered as a common cause of dwarfingand that weight charts which do not take into con-sideration the birth-weight are useless for dealingwith the expected weight of any individual child.Another comparison made was concerned with the
1. Arch. Dis. Childh. 1939, 14, 121.
incidence of infectious diseases in the two series,since it might be expected that the premature child,being more " delicate," would be more liable toinfection than the child of normal weight at birth.Actually he found no difference in the incidence ofthe infectious fevers in any of the age-groups examined.With regard to evidence of cerebral defect howeverthe prematurely born (or, more strictly, the under-weight) infant scores badly. The incidence of
spasticity, mental deficiency and athetosis was
compared in the two series and found to be muchhigher in the underweight group. Gross mentaldefect, fits or athetosis were present in 20 per cent.of the premature group as compared with 6.7 percent. of the control group. Obviously this must notbe interpreted as applying to premature infants ingeneral, since Illingworth is dealing with patientsbrought to hospital because of some disease or defect,but the fact that evidence of cerebral defect is presentthree times more often among the infants who weresmall at birth contains food for thought for theobstetrician. A further finding showed an oppositeresult, so to speak, for the figures for asthma showedthat there were nine times as many cases in thecontrol group as in the premature group ; and in asmall series of cases of infantile eczema also examinedonly one out of fifty had been below 5t pounds inweight at birth.
It is clear that there are many factors which maycontribute to a low birth-weight-financial statusof the mother, her diet during pregnancy, hereditaryfactors and pathological states of pregnancy-andcertain of the findings in Illingworth’s study may berelated to other causes than mere smallness of sizeat birth. His work should stimulate those withaccess to similar records, for example among thewell children attending welfare clinics or among therecords of the school medical service, to sort outsome of the points still requiring elucidation. Themortality-rate among premature babies is appallinglyhigh : would its reduction mean the saving of a
group of weaklings Illingworth has supplied someof the answer, but we want to know the rest.
GERMAN MEDICINE IN THE LAST WAR
Prof. A. Waldmann was head of the army medicalservice on the German side during the years 1914-18and it may be of interest to look at the achievementsof this service through his eyes. Five years ago, fear-
ing that the events of twenty years earlier were
becoming unreal and almost legendary in the minds ofthe younger generation, he promoted a special numberof the Munich medical journal dealing with everyaspect of military medicine and himself contributing aforeword. He tells us that of the 26,292 militarydoctors 1783 (6-8 per cent.) lost their lives, the propor-tion naturally being highest (10 per cent.) among thedoctors at the front. They handled in all 27 millionwounds and illnesses, of which 98.4 per cent. survivedand 95-8 per cent. became again fit for service. Theseconvalescents numbered on the average 67,000 men amonth, or almost one half of the supply of fightingmaterial. Waldmann estimates that the new hygieneand surgery kept alive a quarter of a million men whowould otherwise have been lost. Actually some 40per cent. of the men in the field were at no time ill orseriously wounded. The mortality from wounds wasten times that from disease and he contrasts this
proportion with that of 5 to 1 in the Franco-Germanwar and 1 to 6-5 (note the reversal) in the earlier warsof the nineteenth century. On the western front the
1. Münch, med. Wsch. 1934, 81, 1157.
incidence of typhoid was seven times less in 1914-18than 1870-71 and a quarter as fatal. Smallpox andcholera had no footing, their place being taken byinfectious jaundice, five-day fever, and trench neph-ritis ; and he remarks on the curious fact that not onlydid diabetes and gout disappear " for the duration "but also scarlet fever. Venereal disease never
reached its peace-time figure and was only 7 per cent.in the whole army. Experience gained in gas war-fare had found useful application in industry andsanitation, and finally life in the field was the basisof a life lived closer to nature among the growinggeneration and had given birth to a new specialty ofsport medicine. Waldmann concludes with theremark : " Military medicine also, by its fruitful con-tribution to medicine as a whole, obeys the law thatwar, in the sense of necessity, is the father of progressin human endeavour."
EXPERIMENTAL CANCER OF THE LUNGS
THE apparent rise in the incidence of human lungcancer makes it imperative to follow all clues availablefrom experimental work concerning its cause.
Although the rise cannot yet be satisfactorily ex-plained, a number of relevant facts have come to light.It is now known that lung adenomata are the com-monest of all spontaneous tumours in mice, that allstocks are afflicted to a greater or less extent,especially as the individuals grow old, and that asusceptibility is inherited as a mendelian dominant.All experimental observations have to be interpretedin the light of this knowledge. It has also been foundthat the incidence of these adenomata can be raised
by the application of tar, or pure chemical carcino-genic substances, to the skin of mice, without neces-sarily producing a skin tumour at the same time;that is to say, the tumorigenic effect is seen in an
organ remote from the point of application. This
might indicate that, in seeking the cause of the humanlesion, carcinogenic substances should be suspectedin sources other than those that can reach the lungswith air-for example, in skin creams that are usedregularly. Some doubt has now been thrown onsuch an interpretation, however, by an experimentrecorded by Magnus.l In an attempt to producegastric carcinoma in mice by injecting 1 : 2 : 5 : 6-dibenzanthracene, dissolved in olive oil, through aningenious adaptation of the stomach-tube, he suc-ceeded unexpectedly in raising the incidence of lungadenomata of his market stock from about 4-8 percent. to 95 per cent., without producing any neo-plasms in the stomach. More unexpected still wasthe unusual finding that 75 per cent. of these adeno-mata became malignant. The conclusion might havebeen drawn that here was another instance of a
carcinogenic agent acting on the lung from a distance.Magnus, however, went on to test this supposition.He delivered similar meals, some containing charcoaland some containing carmine, into the stomachs ofmice, and on killing the animals at successive intervalsfound coloured particles in the smaller bronchi andalveoli. This makes him think that in the previousexperiment, despite absence of trauma, very minutequantities of the carcinogen accidentally reached andlodged in the respiratory tract. According to hiscalculation the total dose reaching the lungs in sixmonths might have amounted to between 13 and 26mg. It has already been suggested by ArgyllCampbell that when lung tumours follow paintingof the skin with tar, the tar dries and fiakes and is
1. Magnus, H. A., J. Path. Bact. 1939, 49, 21.2. Campbell, J. A., Brit. J. exp. Path. 1934, 15, 287.