Colonial Kids Had It Tougher Than You

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Forget childhood obesity and behavioral problems. Little ones in the 17th Century met colorful ends from eating poisonous beans, falling off wharves and the vague “failure to thrive,” according to Dr. Howard A. Pearson's analysis of colonial doctors' letters in the most recent issue of Pediatrics magazine.

Over one-fifth of infants in some colonial communities died before their first birthdays. So, what was pediatric health-care coverage like in colonial times when kids had it so tough?

Unfortunately, there isn't a clear picture. Minimal medical evidence has been kept from that time. Trained physicians were very scarce, and clergymen and politicians often served as medical diagnosticians....

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