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June 3, 1950


JAMA. 1950;143(5):476. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910400068012

The Committee on Sanitary Engineering and Environment of the Division of Medical Sciences of the National Research Council has issued a report on methemoglobinemia and nitrates1 which reviews the relationship between infant morbidity and mortality and the quality of well water. The problem has been recognized by health departments for some time, but ways of preventing it have been difficult to attain because bases for establishing permissible limits of certain chemical characteristics have been lacking. The report by the committee provides a review of known data and offers several pertinent conclusions.

In 1945 H. H. Comly2 reported instances of "idiopathic" methemoglobinemia in infants following the ingestion of well water containing large amounts of nitrates. Since then other reports have appeared, until a large number of instances have been recorded. In every case the baby was fed on an artificial formula of cow's milk, condensed milk or milk powder

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