Fatal convulsions: different roles of a historical cause of infant death, Amsterdam and Roosendaal 1856 – 1938

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2022-06-24
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en
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Historical causes of death are often reclassified to enable research according to current standards of disease categorization. In this reclassification process, scholars struggle with the role of convulsions. Present-day medical scientists consider convulsions a symptom related to illnesses from different disease groups. Literature shows contrasting approaches, while the dominant narrative labels convulsions as a uniform proxy for water- and foodborne infectious diseases over time. Research on the historical diagnosis convulsions is scarce and the findings raise new questions. This interdisciplinary study uses a mixed methods approach to investigate medical thinking on convulsions, patterns of convulsions and the impact of socio-demographic characteristics on the risk of obtaining this diagnosis over time. The results challenge the dominant narrative. Key words: infant mortality, causes of death, convulsions, Amsterdam/Roosendaal, 1856-1938.
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