Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Lesson of the Week

Unrecognised scurvy

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 17 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3580

Re: unrecognised scurvy

Dear Editor,

John Pemberton's rapid response is an important reminder of such ignored
conditions as scurvy; yes not only most signs of scurvy are unrecognised,
but they are misdiagnosed in the most embarrassing way in the so called
shaken baby syndrome.

As described already in 1959 by Pekarek and Rezabek (J Hyg Epidemiol
Microbiol Immunol; 3: 79-84) in rats developing an acute scurvy after DPT
vaccine injections, babies develop an acute scurvy after the same vaccine
administration. Many of them develop bizarre signs such as bleeding into
the frenulum, scapula, periosteum of long bones, into abdominal cavity,
subdural, subarachnoid and retinal haemorrhages, bizarre fractures and
ribs separated (not fractured) from the sternum, red spots on ear lobes
and, yes, bleeding around hair follicles, which are described by the
accusing doctors as deliberately caused by the accused parents by pulling
their babies' hair one by one and pinching their ear lobes and shaking
them etc. They even ignore such modern evaluation of the effects of scurvy
on the bones of babies published by Hiller 1972 (Am J Roentgenol Radiol
Therapy & Nuclear Med; 114 (2): 241-245), while still relying on
Caffey (1946. Multiple fractures of the long bones of infants suffering
from subdural hematoma. Am J Roengenol; 56:163-173), according to his
admission a formally untrained radiologist who made a real mess of things
by failing to recognise the well-known in his time elementary signs of

I urge medical doctors to read older but very relevant medical
literature such as Hess (1920: Scurvy, past and resent, Lippincoot Co:
288pp) with descriptions and x-ray photographs standing up to modern

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 January 2010
Dr Viera Scheibner PhD
Scientist (retired)/Author
Blackheath NSW Australia