May 1, 2009

Sad Story

This photo tells a poignant tale all on its own, but the details contained in the caption are heartbreaking. Apparently this family was receiving government aid, but was then "dropped" from the program.

According to the photographer, a nurse's report indicates that the children have hookworm and that the mother suffers from "pellagra and milk leg." Hookworm can stunt intellectual development. Pellagra is a B vitamin deficiency which, if untreated, can kill a person in five years. It's associated with dizziness and dementia. Milk leg is connected to childbirth and involves dangerous blood clots. Apparently modern treatment for this condition involves resting in bed with one's leg elevated.

Alabama, 1939. Photo by Marion Wolcott Post. [American Memory link]