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April 25, 1936


Author Affiliations


From the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory, Second and Fourth Medical Services (Harvard), Boston City Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

JAMA. 1936;106(17):1463-1466. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770170029010

Textbooks today describe chlorosis as a disease of unknown etiology which has disappeared mysteriously. In order to define chlorosis, therefore, it is necessary to refer to descriptions written at the time when the disease was most prevalent. Although the classic account by Johannes Lange in 15541 referred to the disease of virgins "De Morbo Virgineo" as a well known entity, and although Sydenham (1661) and Willis (1681) described the efficacy of iron therapy in the disease, the years associated with its popular recognition were from 1830 to 1900. In 1836 Ashwell2 described fifteen cases of chlorosis characterized by anemia appearing in adolescent girls, invariably associated with menstrual irregularity and often complicated by gastro-intestinal or pulmonary "affections." He also commented on their depraved appetite and insufficient diet. Most accounts during the nineteenth century were in accord with the description by Ashwell. It is evident that, in addition to anemia,

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