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ANTHROPOMETRY.

[By William Morgan, Ppkekoiik, Auckland.]

Population is a vital question, an important factor in a colony like New Zealand, having largely to do with its stability and progress, a steady and regular increase being very desirable. In round numbers the population of this country, at the end of last March, was 610,000, or including Natives 650,000. It is rather sad to have to record the fact that during the last two years New Zealand has lost nearly 10,000 people by emigration—that is, between 9,000 and 10,000 more people left than arrived. This largo number of emigrants from our shores has of course produced a diminished rate of increase to tho population, though there has not been in consequence an actual decrease, the births having exceeded the deaths that have occurred during the period mentioned. Indeed, , during two years the excess of births over deaths has been upwards of QG.OOO. The births have been 83,000 and the deaths nearly 12,000. Amongst the deaths there have been a largo percentage of children. A great many young children die in this country, and it is to be feared that not a few have died who ought now to he alive; for many of these deaths might be honestly put dowu to the ignorance, inattention, or carelessness of parents. For instance, there are a good many mothers who have a fancy for stout, beer, or some stronger liquid when they are nursing. Doctors, perhaps, recommend these drinks. Of course, they are bad for infants, undermining their constitutions and causing weakness of the digestive organs, besides other evils. These intoxicants, indeed, are bad both for mothers and their offspring; and it is a pity that mothers do not or will not know this. Now, while it may be put down as a truism that suitable food, care, and surroundings are necessary, in fact indispensable, for all children, it is an indisputable fact that not a small proportion of parents are in ignorance of the science of bringing up their progeny; in other words, they hare yet to learn the principles that should guide them in respect to tho food, clothing, rest, and work which are essential to tho development and growth of children. Anthropometry teaches that, as a rule, when enjoying proper treatment, having suitable food, clothing, etc., children at different ages will attain a certain height in stature aud weigh a certain number of pounds, eupposing, of course, that they are naturally sound and healthy, and have got a good start from the first. Through the studies and investigations of experts in these matters—in some instances for a long series of years—approximate results respecting stature and weight at different ages have been tabulated. These tables have special reference to the annual growth, and to the weight that should accompany such growth. Hence the science of anthropometry is one that merits the attention and study, not only of parents, but of all who are interested in tho healthy and continuous growth and development of the young. Temperance people especially—many of whom take a deep interest in physiological subjects—should study anthropometry, and all the more so if they arc parents, and blessed with a family of young children. To carry out this science involves that both weighing and measuring are attended to at stated times, so that if growth is not progressing according to ordinary rules, or if there is a marked deficiency in weight, a remedy may be sought that may accelerate both growth and weight. As showing the importance of the subject, I may mention the case of a certain boys’ home in London, where it was found that the youngsters were not thriving as they should have done, neither iu stature nor weight increasing as they ought, according to the ages of the lads. The result was that an alteration was made in the dietary department, and with so good a result that after a twelvemonth the average increase iu height was over 2in, and in weight about half a stone. “ How children grow ” is a question of intrinsic interest, and considerable light was thrown upon it a few years ago at a medical conference held at Copenhagen, when a paper was read by the Rev. Mr Hansen, principal of one of tho Danish institutions. This paper gave the results of “the daily weighing and measurements of height which he had carried ou for nearly three years on the 130 pupils—seventy-two boys and fifty-eight girls—of the institution, and which demonstrated facts as to the development of the human body during the period of childhood that perfectly startled and astonished tho assembled medical authorities, opening an entirely new field for investigation and reflection. Since then, Mr Hansen has continued his observations, and though he has yet a tremendous amount of work before him, he row believes himself able to state the outlines of the results he has obtained. It seems that the children were weighed four times daily, in batches of twenty—in the morning, before dinner, after dinner, aud at bedtime—and each child was measured once a day. Tho common impression is, no doubt, that the increase in bulk and height of tho human body during the years of growth progresses evenly all through tho year. This is not so. Three distinct periods are marked out, and within them some thirty lesser waverings have been observed. As for bulk, tho maximum period extends from August until December; the period of equipoise lasts from ,December until about the middle of April; and then follows the minimum period until August. Tho lasting increase of bulk or weight is all accumulated during the first stage. The period of equipoise adds to the body about a fourth of that Increase, but this gain is almost entirely spent or lost again in the last period,” Some years since Dr Boulton made anthropometry a special study, publishing the results of his investigations in tho * Lancet,’ from which I shall here give a few quotations, The doctor remarks as follows : “ The table which I have drawn up may be looked upon as atypical standard for weight and height; and, as it should be our aim to see every unit of the population brought up to the maximum of healthy development, I believe it will be found a reliable guide, subject to other statements which I shall shortly make,” In regard to the annual rate of growth, Dr Boulton says “ The fact that different healthy children grow at different rates explains the circumstance of varying height in individuals. I find that average English children brought up under favorable circumstances grow from 2in to 3in a year. A growth of less than 2in or over Sin should excite apprehension. The former would indicate arrested development, and the latter a rate of growth beyond the powers of average children. Rate of growth should be regular, and, being so, prognosticates future stature, because the healthy child that grows 2in a year passes sft at about fifteen, which indicates a short stature (t.e., if a male, about sft Gin ; female, about sft lin). The healthy child growing 2Jin a year is 3ft 2in at three years, and passes 6ft at thirteen to fourteen years. Such child will be a medium-sized adult (t.e., if a male, about sft Sin ; female, about sft Sin). The quick - growing healthy child that accomplishes Sin a year passes sft at ten or eleven, and eventually makes a tall adult (t.e., if a male, about sft XOin; female, about sft sin), So rate of growth might be likened to three trains travelling at, say, ten, twenty, and thirty miles an hour; the fastest train, of course, covers the most ground in a given time, subject somewhat to the exact point where puberty put on the brake, which at first slows, and ultimately stops the progress altogether. Of course, one meets with many variations, but these variations are, I believe, always abnormal. Some children seem to do their growing by fits and starts, the common diseases of children arresting for the time their progress, which is made up for afterwards by a supreme effort. Such growth is unnatural and often very detrimental, 1 believe, then, that every healthy child has its own regular

rate of growth of 2, 2J, or 3in a year, from which it has no right to vary more than Jin a year," As to weight, that must correspond to height of stature; for whether children grow 2, 2J, or 3in annually, they must increase in weight in proportion to the height attained ; in other words, healthy children will grow broad and robust as they grow in stature. On this point Dr Boulton remarks : “I do not wish it to be thought that th«fH table which I offer as a standard is a precise statement of what has come out of my statistics. I wish it to be understood that statistics do not accommodate themselves to the regularity of half pounds, as found in this table. An observant and accurate statistician may, however, very easily lay down a law from the facts and figures which he has to deal with. It is a fact that my statistics came out 2st 81b for 3ft, and 4st 4;b for 4ft, and 6st 6lb for sft, and having found 21b per inch to be the normal increase between 3ft and 4ft, and 2Jlb per inch between 4ft and sft, the rest naturally follows, and has proved a reliable approximate working standard. 3ft, 2st 81b; 3ft lin, 2st 101b ; 3ft 2io, 2st 12lb ; 3ft Sin, 3st; 3ft 4in, 3;t 21b ; 3ft sin, 3st 41b; 3ft Gin, 3st 61b; 3ft 7in, 3st 8!b; 3ft Sin, Sat 101b ; 3ft 9in, Sat 121b ; 3ft lOin, 4st; 3ft 1 lin, 4st 2ib ; 4ft, 4st 41b ; 4ft lin, 4st6Jlb ; 4ft 2|n, 4at 51b ; 4ft 3in, 4st 11 Jib; 4£t 4in, sat; 4ft Sin, sst2Jlb; 4ft Gin, sstslb; 4ft 7in, sat 7 Jib; 4ft Sin, oat 101b; 4ft 9in, sst 12Jlb ; 4ft lOin, Gat lib; 4ft llin, Gat 3Jib; sft, Gat 61b. Some children exceed these weights that are by no means giants; and really healthy, well-nourished children of healthy parents and favorable surroundings generally attain these averages. But what of children that fall below the standard ? I find that there is a 71b margin of safety, and that children falling more than 71b below this standard are devoid of reserve capital on which to draw, and, consequently, they succumb quickly to many constitutional diseases. This, therefore, may be called the preventive medicine margin, behind which lies the dangerous land of cachexia. Arrest of growth, or loss of weight, precedes so many diseases that it may be looked upon as a danger signal, and if the 1 caution ’ is noticed before the disease point is reached, catastrophe may frequently be prevented, and so childhood may be worked on a kind of ‘ block system.’ ”

Any further quotations would make this paper too long. I shall conclude therefore by pointing out where the duties of parents and guardians come in concerning the growth and development of children (1) Everything that might have a retarding effect upon the growth of children should be removed ; (2) they should be placed in as healthful surroundings and circumstances as possible, so that growth may go on. And this would include a regular and plentiful supply of wholesome food, and, what is almost of equal importance, a sufficiency of clothing adapted to the season, attention being also given to cleanliness, fresh air, etc.; and, as diseases retard very much the development aud robustness of the body, it is of absolute importance that the health of children is at all times considered and seen to, physic of all sorts being kept out of their systems. In this way a generation may be raised that shall not disgrace their parents or their country, so far as physical development is concerned; and if such generation is brought up according to the principles of temperance, we may fully expect a race of healthy, intelligent, good-looking girls and boys, of which the colony may be proud.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890810.2.35.15

Bibliographic details

ANTHROPOMETRY., Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement

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2,015

ANTHROPOMETRY. Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement

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