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August 1, 1953

Famine Disease in German Concentration Camps: Complications and Sequels, with Special Reference to Tuberculosis, Mental Disorders and Social Consequences.

JAMA. 1953;152(14):1390. doi:10.1001/jama.1953.03690140098034

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This monograph is a valuable clinical description of famine disease as the syndrome was reported by 1,282 Danes who survived internment in German concentration camps during World War II. It pictures the macabre conditions under which starvation occurred and recognizes the difficulty of separating the effects of psychic trauma from nutritional factors that contributed to the syndrome of famine disease. Of special merit are the sections dealing with hunger edema, polyuria, hunger diarrhea, alimentary diarrhea, metabolism, avitaminoses, and mental deterioration. The record of treatment, emphasizing a dietetic regimen, will aid physicians in avoiding some of the errors that occurred during World War II as a result of a too sophisticated approach of clinicians to the supposed deficiency states in semistarved patients. The description of rehabilitation and the comments on the permanence of the famine-induced condition will be of interest to those concerned with rehabilitation of such persons. The 484 complete

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