During these three years, the diseases most fatal to children
were, cholera infantum (238) and convulsions (147: total, 385).
The whole number of deaths among children being 1403, if
we deduct from this number 297 cases reported as unknown, we
will have 1106 known cases; and we will perceive that these
two maladies alone (cholera infantum and convulsions) have
carried to the grave more than one-third of the whole number of
children whose diseases were recorded.
Respecting convulsions, we deem it only necessary to remind
the reader, that generally they are but a symptom of other
diseases, such, for instance, as encephalitis, meningitis, &c.;
they are often sympathetic, and produced by affections distinct
from those of the nervous centres, as dentition, worms, &c.;
lastly, they may be essential or idiopathic; but these cases are
said, by our most distinguished pathologists, to be of rare
occurrence. We earnestly call the attention of the profession
to this subject, and entreat them to abandon the vague term,
"convulsions," when it denotes but a symptom, and call dis-
eases by their proper names. We urge this because, as we
have already said, they are a symptom attendant on different
diseases, which it would be dangerous to confound. We
should err in believing that during the last three years 147
children have died of "convulsions, essential or idiopathic;" we
can only conclude, that during that time 147 have been the
victims of different diseases, having convulsions for a symptom.
Of the 238 children who died of cholera infantum, the num-
ber of males far exceeds that of females. With one solitary
exception, this was invariably the case during the summer
months of the three years recorded. We know not whether
this fact is of general occurrence, or whether it has been
before remarked by any author. We respectfully request the
physicians of other cities to examine and decide the matter.
Opposed as we are to hypotheses, which has so often misled
our science, and knowing no good reasons by which to account
for this disproportion, so uniform in the statistics of this place
for the last three years, we merely call attention to the fact,
and refrain from all speculative explanations.
The deaths from cholera infantum average in Philadelphia
232 for each year; population, 200,000. In Washington, 44;
population, 18,000. In St. Louis, 79, population, 30,000.
Thus, in Philadelphia, there is 1 death from cholera infan-
tum for every 862 inhabitants; in Washington, 1 do., 411 do.;
in St. Louis, 1 do., 375 do.
Thus, we see that, in other places as well as this, the disease
often baffles the most skilful physicians. It is true, that the
mortality occasioned by this bane of infancy, during the past
year in St. Louis, was most alarming — amounting to 238,