IN 1881, Wernicke1 described a syndrome characterized by drowsiness or stupor, ophthalmoplegia and ataxia and reported his pathologic observations. He attributed the condition to the toxic effect of a variety of substances or poisons. Since then, many of the cases of this syndrome have been seen in alcoholic persons, for which reason it came to be accepted as one of the serious manifestations of chronic alcoholism, or at least as one of its complications.
In recent years, however, cases have been described in the literature in nonalcoholic persons. Bowman and Wortis2 had collected 40 cases from the literature up to 1941. Campbell and Biggart3 also reported cases of Wernicke's syndrome in conditions other than alcoholism. Of their 12 cases only 1 included signs of frank alcoholism. They observed that diseases accompanied by malnutrition, such as gastrointestinal conditions, tuberculosis, anorexia and hyperemesis gravidarum, can give rise to the
GUERRERO RM. WERNICKE'S SYNDROME DUE TO VITAMIN B DEFICIENCYReport of the Disease in Two Infants. Am J Dis Child. 1949;78(1):88–96. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1949.02030050097010