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May 19, 1945


JAMA. 1945;128(3):207. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860200047014

A characteristic edema appears widespread during war and famine. This war is not an exception. None of the usual designations, as famine edema, war edema, hunger edema and nutritional edema, express adequately the nature of the disease. Until recently biochemical and nutritional knowledge has been inadequate to determine a more specific cause than nutritional deficiency.

The relationship of lowered blood protein to the development of edema was pointed out by Starling in 1896; the protein factor has received increasing attention in the last decade. Edema from lack of thiamine occurs in the wet type of beriberi. One or both of these factors may be involved in the development of the edema observed during famine.

In some persons with this edema the serum protein was determined1 and an average value of 5.39 per cent was found, compared with 8.07 for the normal or average. Other reports describe only the presence