Part 2 – The Gestures

In our series of “Sings of Diseases” let’s talk about second sign of dieses in babies. Yes it’s “the gestures”. The gestures of a healthy child are all easy and natural but in sickness those deviations occur which alone will often denote the nature of the disease.

Suppose an infant to have acquired the power to support itself, to hold its head erect, let sickness come, its head will droop immediately and this power will be lost, only to be regained with the return of health and during the interval every posture and movement will be that of slowness.

The little one that has just taught itself to run alone from chair to chair having two or three teeth pressing upon and irritating the gums will for a time be completely taken off its feet and perhaps lie languidly in its cot or on its nurse’s arm.

The legs being drawn up to the belly and accompanied by crying are proofs of disorder and pain in the bowels. Press upon this part and your pressure will increase the pain. Look to the secretions from the bowels themselves and by their unhealthy character your suspicions in reference to the seat of the disorder are at once confirmed.

The hands of a child in health are rarely carried above its mouth but let there be any thing wrong about the head and pain present and the little one’s hands will be constantly raised to the head and face.

Sudden starting when awake as also during sleep, though it occur from trifling causes, should never be disregarded. It is frequently connected with approaching disorder of the brain. It may forebode a convulsive fit and such suspicion is confirmed if you find the thumb of the child drawn in and firmly pressed upon the palm with the fingers so compressed upon it that the hand cannot be forced open without difficulty. The same condition will exist in the toes but not to so great a degree. There may also be a puffy state of the back of the hands and feet and both foot and wrist bent downwards.

There are other and milder signs threatening convulsions and connected with gesture which should be regarded;

  • The head being drawn rigidly backwards
  • An arm fixed firmly to the side or near to it
  • One of the legs drawn stiffly upwards

These signs, as also those enumerated above, are confirmed beyond all doubt, if there be present certain alterations in the usual habits of the child;

  • If the sleep is disturbed
  • If there be frequent fits of crying
  • Great peevishness of temper
  • The countenance alternately flushed and pale
  • Sudden animation followed by as sudden a fit of languor
  • Catching of the breath followed by a long and deep inspiration

I hope this will help you to understand how gestures could be the signs of disease in babies especially new born. Please read our articles about The Countenance, The Stools, The Sleep and The Breathing and Cough. 

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