Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/59

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55
ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION

WHAT ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION HAS DONE FOR CHILDREN
By HENRY DWIGHT CHAPIN, M.D.
NEW YORK

THE rich contribution that animal experimentation has yielded to the direct, curative treatment of disease is well known to all educated physicians. The lay public, however, seem to be insufficiently informed as to the many benefits that have been derived from this method of scientific investigation. If so, they would give little heed to the false statements and hysterical imaginings that are periodically given out by small but vociferous opponents of this beneficent work. If the public once clearly understands that helpless, suffering children will be the class to suffer most, a positive and instant check will be administered to those who aim to stop the most fruitful advance in scientific medicine. At present, a few ill-balanced people seem to derive a cheap and easy glow of self-satisfied altruism by exaggerating the discomforts of animals who are being studied for the good of the human race.

The object of this paper is to show what animal experimentation has actually done for children. Let us substitute real facts for morbid and exaggerated fancies. Let us weigh the relative importance of a child's suffering or life against the discomfort and even occasional suffering of a dog. This is directly pertinent, for, in a last analysis, the defenceless child will have to pay the principal penalty if the advances in treatment brought about by animal experimentation are to be retarded or checked. A large part of all sickness occurs among children. The period of growth is one of great physiological energy, and pathological changes are often only an index of an overstrained physiological activity. Besides this, young protoplasm is irritable and favors the development of germs of all kinds. The victims of microbic diseases are chiefly the young. It is evident that the complete understanding and treatment of disease at this period assume the greatest importance, and anything interfering with such beneficent work may have the gravest consequences. It thus becomes a question of morals as well as medicine.

A brief review of some of its brilliant accomplishments will serve to emphasize the value of animal experimentation for children:

 

Diphtheria

The most overwhelming proof of the value of a specific treatment is seen in connection with antitoxin in diphtheria. Before the intro-