Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dr. Daniel Whistler and the first description of a vitamin D-deficiency

The term ‘rickets’ first appeared in 1634 when listed as a cause of death in London’s Annual Bill of Mortality.

The first scientific description of a vitamin D-deficiency, namely rickets, was provided in the 17th century by both Dr. Daniel Whistler and Professor Francis Glisson.

It was that English physician Dr. Daniel Whistler described its symptoms in 1645. The publication by Whisker was a concise monograph of only 14 pages and was written when author was 26 years old. It represented the thesis required for his degree of doctor of medicine. His thesis was ‘De morbo perili Anglorum’ - The Children’s disease of the English.

The Latin thesis was read at Leiden on 18th October 1645. The importance of this thesis lies in the fact that it contained the first complete clinical account of rickets. Whistler's book was published a short time after the reading of his thesis in 1645. It was a small quarto volume of some eighteen pages, though when it was reprinted in 1684, it was in octavo.

In his thesis Dr. Whistler proposed a wide range of suggestions for treatment from crow’s or frog’s livers, application of leeches, purgation, poultices of snails and salt placed on the belly, and grease from mainly pork fat, goosegrease and butter to be smeared on the swollen epiphyses.

Dr. Daniel Whistler and the first description of a vitamin D-deficiency

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