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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

Health Notes

Health Notes.

At this season of the year and in the early Spring there is a prevalence of infectious diseases. Colds, influenza, whooping cough and various skin diseases are apt to pay us a visit when the broken winter weather is with us. To safeguard the children's health it is necessary that they should be adequately clothed, but not superfluously clad in layers of thick or shrunken woollen under-garments. It is essential to allow free access of air to the body, so that the skin may function in a satisfactory manner. When the atmosphere is warm or when extra heat is produced by muscular exertion, sweat is poured out from the glands and evaporates on the skin, thus extracting heat and cooling the body. The idea is to keep the body warm by active exercise. A child who is constantly active will not require to wear a number of extra garments to enable him to keep warm. The tendency to overclothe the child in winter will make him over-sensitive to cold, so that it is better to underclothe him. An extra outside garment can always be worn if necessary. Over-clothing and coddling tend to break down resistance to colds and other ailments.

It will be seen that the ideal wear are porous, loosely woven undergarments, to allow for evaporation of moisture and free ventilation of the skin. Frequent changing of under-clothing is an important factor for the maintenance of good health. It is especially necessary in the case of children. The garments become impregnated with sweat and germs, and wearing them day after day, and often during the night as well, infects the skin, frequently causing rashes and spots, or even boils. Vests that are worn during the day should on no account be worn at night. One warm garment at night is all that is necessay. Loosely woven and porous garments are very easily washed and dried, and the little extra trouble is offset by improved health and vitality.

Children should not be allowed to go from overheated rooms into cold ones or outside without putting on an extra garment, such as a jumper or cardigan. The sudden chilling of the body frequently causes colds. Pure air, and as much sunshine as possible, is necessary for the well-being of the child. Sleeping rooms must be well ventilated with a continuous stream of fresh air flowing through them. It is also necessary to keep them out of direct draughts.

Children should be trained from the very earliest age in regular habits of hygiene. A daily bath helps to keep the body and skin free from infection. Cold baths are stimulating and beneficial to the normal child, provided the skin reacts to it well. After a quick rub down with a rough towel the body should be in a glow and feel warm to the touch. No dawdling should be allowed and brisk exercise should be taken afterwards.

Meals should be simple, regular and well-cooked with no “pieces” in between. Three good meals a day are sufficient. Milk should be given at the end and not between meals. Give plenty of water and some fruit juice between meals. Teach children to drink an adequate amount of water. It can be taken either hot or cold. The diet should be well balanced. Foods that leave a certain amount of undigested residue in the intestines enable them to work efficiently by stimulating
(H. C. Peart, photo.) Tree ferns along the Greymouth-Westport Road, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand.

(H. C. Peart, photo.)
Tree ferns along the Greymouth-Westport Road, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand.

page 54 the bowels to action. Spinach, cauliflower, lettuce, celery, carrot, raw ripe fruits, prunes, raisins, dates, wholemeal bread, coarse oatmeal, etc., are foods which tend to make the bowels laxative. Honey and treacle should be given frequently in place of jams. Butter is a good form of fat. Care must be taken when first introducing laxative foods into the child's diet. All new foods must be given in small quantities to begin with and must be thoroughly mashed. If given in too large a quantity at first, the bowel may be irritated and indigestion and diarrhoea result. The child must also be taught to masticate its food properly.

A child's chief meal should be given in the middle of the day.


Chilblains are really a slight frostbite. They develop when there is poor circulation in the parts affected. The best preventive, therefore, is to get fit before the cold weather comes, eat nourishing food, wear suitable warm clothing, and have sufficient healthy exercise. Persons who are predisposed to chilblains should aid circulation by massage of the hands and feet. The use of methylated spirits with massage is helpful as it hardens the skin. Any affected parts may be painted with weak tincture of iodine—it is quite a good remedy—but this should not be applied to broken chilblains. If the conditions persists it is well to get medical advice.

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