This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The symptoms of this affection are similar to those of tetanus in adults. The mother notices that the child cries when it is placed to the breast, and is unable to nurse. The jaws are found to be fixed partly open. The infant is seized at intervals with violent convulsions, foaming at the mouth, thumbs drawn into the palm of the hand, jaws locked, face livid. The disease is generally fatal in from one to three days; death sometimes occurs within a few hours.
A careful investigation of the cases of this disease in all parts of the civilized world have shown that the principal causes are impure air, filthiness, improper diet, the use of alcoholic liquors by the mother, and improper dressing of the cord. Just one hundred years ago, according to Ellis, from whose excellent work we have drawn largely in our account of the symptoms of disease in infants, one-sixth of all the children born in the Dublin lying-in hospital died within two weeks of birth, nineteen out of twenty dying of this disease. When the ventilation and hygienic management of lyingin cases were improved, only thirty-seven cases occurred out of nearly seventeen thousand births. Probably the direct cause of the disease is an irritation of the navel.
Continuous application of ice to the spine is undoubtedly the best remedy in this disease, but with the very best treatment many cases will be fatal.