Five cases of idiopathic cyanosis in babies are reported. They cleared and did not recur when well water used for drinking and formula was changed, as a result of demonstrated contamination with Coliform organisms.
These cases substantiate the contention of Comly that the toxic, or nitrate-containing water, is the cause of the cyanosis. This cyanosis appears as a result of the oxidation of hemoglobin into methemoglobin by the nitrites derived from nitrates present in the well water used for drinking or formula.
Cyanosis cleared within a few days following removal of the infant to the hospital, away from the home water supply, but recurred within one to two weeks after returning home to the use of the contaminated water.
One infant strongly suggested that milk from cows which drank the contaminated water may be the cause of moderate cyanosis when the milk supply is restricted to the single herd.
One infant suggested that cyanosis may occur in a breast-fed infant, if the mother drinks the contaminated well water, or the milk from cows drinking water from that well.
Many cases of cyanosis in early infancy in farm homes have been and still are being incorrectly treated for hypertrophy of the thymus gland.
Cyanosis in early infancy, occurring particularly in babies living on farms one to three weeks after birth, can be cleared by using uncontaminated water.
- Received May 11, 1948.
- Copyright © 1949 by the American Academy of Pediatrics