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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

Health Notes

Health Notes.

All New Zealanders are greatly concerned about the odd cases of infantile paralysis that crop up from time to time. We think that everything is going along nicely—the schools reopen and the parents lose their fear of the disease affecting their little ones. This, however, does not last long. A fresh case breaks out, the schools are again closed, and the restrictions also tightened up again in regard to children being allowed in any crowded buildings. What happens to the children then? Possibly the mother takes them out for the day—beach or playground perhaps—and one sees a band of happy youngsters enjoying their prolonged freedom from school. However, coming home may be quite a different story. One of the children seems very tired and irritable. At night he has a high temperature, and this, together with frequent attacks of vomiting, terrifies the parents into thinking that it is another case of infantile paralysis, and it has come to their home. The doctor is hastily called in, and he diagnoses the complaint as sunstroke or even paralysis.

Looking back on one's childhood, one remembers the restrictions imposed with respect to playing in the sunshine in the middle of the day, and the slogan ruling our little world during the warm weather was: “Always keep your hat on when playing outside.” How often, too, one was compelled to abandon the most interesting of games to go inside to sleep (with the blinds drawn) during the hottest hour or two of the day. Now we seem to have become sunworshippers, and mothers are very pleased with the brown bodies and limbs of children—and proudly watch them sporting about only clad in bathing suits which are absolutely no protection against the sun's rays.

How often it is the strongest of the family who succumbs to the disease, and it makes us search for any reason why the healthy little girl or boy should suffer, while the more delicate child escapes.

Adults are usually glad to find some shade during the day at the beach—or wherever it may be—while the children are often allowed to roam around—with no protection from the heat—all day, and needless to say it is the most energetic who take full advantage of their freedom from restraint. Even the native races seek shelter during the hottest part of their day. The old slogan may therefore be worthy of remembrance during the hot weather:

“Out of the sun during the hottest hour or two of the day and heads well protected at all times from the sun's rays.”

Passing a schoolground, too, the other day, we noticed a number of children playing about without their hats. We badly wanted to go and put a hat on each child, but, of course, did not have the courage to storm the fortress, and begin our crusade of “Hats on.”