Ped Med: Milestones to remember

By LIDIA WASOWICZ   |   May 6, 2005 at 12:56 PM
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The Historical Archives Advisory Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics has devised a timeline of milestones marking the evolution of pediatric medicine.

Some dates to remember include:

--1650. Gov. John Winthrop, physician, politician and amateur astronomer, gallops around the colony of Connecticut, treating an average of 12 ailing children a day, serving up to 500 families in an area with an estimated population of 5,000 and prescribing remedies by mail.

--1721. Rev. Cotton Mather and Dr. Zabdiel Boylston introduce variolation, a practice originated by the Chinese about 1022 B.C. of pricking the skin with a pin or poker tainted with powered residue from a smallpox crust to induce immunity against the disfiguring and often deadly disease, with Boylston's 6-year-old son, Thomas, becoming the first person inoculated in the American colonies.

--1813. Dr. Nathan Smith, founder of the medical departments at Dartmouth, Yale, Vermont and Bowdoin, successfully treats osteomyelitis, a painful bone infection, contracted in a brush with typhoid fever, averting a leg amputation prescribed by other doctors for 8-year-old Joseph Smith, future founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons.

--1813. Dr. Eli Ives, professor of children's diseases, presents the nation's first formal lectures on pediatrics, not yet defined as a medical specialty, at the Medical Institution of Yale College in New Haven, Conn., where he teaches for 40 years and where student notes from his courses are kept for posterity.

--1854. The first American children's hospitals are established, New York Nursing and Child Hospital and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

--1898. Dr. Joseph DeLee, obstetrician, inventor of the DeLee suction and founder of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital, establishes the country's first premature infant incubator station, akin to a chick hatchery. His 1900 annual hospital report also refers to the Chicago hospital's acquisition of the nation's first ambulance incubator for transporting premature or otherwise ailing infants.

--1930. The American Academy of Pediatrics is founded, with 304 charter members.

--1933. The American Board of Pediatrics, one of 24 certifying bodies of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is founded, establishes pediatrics criteria that include: graduation from medical school, completion of three-year training in an accredited pediatrics residency program; demonstration of clinical competence and professional and ethical behavior; possession of a state license to practice medicine; completion of a two-day written examination. The ABP has awarded more than 69,000 certificates of competency in general pediatrics and more than 11,000 in 12 subspecialties.

--1942. Dr. Wesley Spink, a Harvard Medical School graduate, uses penicillin for the first time in an American child.

--1948. The first chemotherapy drug for childhood cancer, folic acid antagonist (aminopterin), is used by Dr. Sidney Farber, founder of the Children's Cancer Research Foundation, now Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, to induce remission in 10 of 16 young patients with acute leukemia.

--1954. A trial of Dr. Jonas Salk's inactivated polio vaccine in nearly 2 million American children concludes the vaccine is effective in preventing paralytic polio.

--1957. Dr. Albert Sabin develops a live, attenuated, or weakened, polio vaccine, which is approved for general use in 1963. The virus can replicate, mimicking the actual infection though, ideally, in milder form, in contrast to the inactivated vaccine in which the virus is killed.

--1965. The first American newborn intensive care unit, designed by Dr. Louis Gluck, "father of neonatology," opens at Yale New Haven, Conn., Hospital.

--1977. Smallpox becomes the first disease to be declared eradicated worldwide, enabling the discontinuation of routine childhood vaccination against a scourge last reported in the United States in 1949.

--1985. Dr. David Smith and Dr. Porter Anderson develop a polysaccharide vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type B, credited with contributing to a plunge of more than 80 percent in 20 years in HiB-caused meningitis and epiglotitis, a severe swelling of the throat most common in youngsters ages 2 to 7.


Lidia Wasowicz is UPI's Senior Science Writer. E-mail:

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