Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today's Trivia - And Next To The Sword Swallowers...Preemies

Once upon a time, and not as long ago as we think, premature babies were born and cared for at home. There was no medical intervention, and they either lived or died. When incubators were finally introduced, they were not readily embraced. There was very little interest in pushing forward this new technology, and banks were not willing to finance production.


Dr. Courney who was convinced that this technology could help save the lives of babies born prematurely decided to build a traveling exhibit to demonstrate how premature babies were being cared for in incubators. After the first display in Berlin and a series of stops in the United States, the exhibit settled into a long-term stay in the amusement parks in Coney Island in 1903.


This carnival attraction resembled a hospital ward, and visitors would pay a dime to get a look at the babies being cared for in the incubators. The exhibit was very successful, and because it pulled in so much money, the infants received exemplary care, and their parents never had to pay a cent for it. It ran for almost 40 years and shut down after New York established its first neonatal intensive care unit.

20 comments:

  1. A carnival attraction! I must say, I don't really like the way they're holding those little babies. I thought at first that they were dolls.

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    1. Thank goodness that we now have medical care for these tiny babies.

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  2. Weird. It's funny how things change so fast in our world. We get so used to how they are today that we forgot how they were just a few years ago. Already people think that living without cell phones is weird and dangerous and caveman-like...but man, almost all of us lived without cell phones and were fine!

    I didn't know about the early baby thing, I think today if hospitals just handed an early born to the parent, sent them home, and said, "well, if they live, they live, and if they die, they die" the hospital would get sued and the parents would probably get their kid taken away from them if they agreed. Lots of changes.

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    1. We take for granted the medical advancements of today. Things were much different, and much riskier, way back when.

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  3. Fascinating! I remember reading about the famous jockey Bill Shoemaker who was born very prematurely in the Depression -- his Mom or Grandma wrapped him in a towel, put him in a shoebox and placed it near the stove so he'd stay warm. That's how they did it in the old days!

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    1. A shoebox? That is really something! Yes, that's how they did it in the old days. But I imagine a lot of babies didn't make it.

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  4. What an interesting post, Martha! I thought they were holding dolls in the first picture ~ that poor little baby on the right! Thank God for the marvel of medical advances. Have a good day!

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    1. Yes, thank God for medical advancements. We've certainly come a long way.

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  5. An old coworker just had a baby premature. She got to take him home a few months afterwards, but now he's back in bad health.

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope he regains his health.

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  6. I'm glad they did it. If they hadn't I probably wouldn't be around. I love their hats.

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    1. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is the only way that these babies could be helped back then.

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  7. That is really a strange story of how incubators came into being. I guess it was a good thing even though it had a 'circus' feeling about it. Thanks for this insight Martha! Who would have thought.

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    1. It was the only way at the time for these babies to receive the medical care they required to have a chance at life. From today's perspective it is horrifying, but back then, it was the best people could do.

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  8. It gives me the chills the way the woman on the right in the top picture is holding those babies.

    I have heard about pre-mature babies being coated in oil and being kept in a warming oven. Apparently some of them lived. There were no other options and the mid-wife did what she could. I am trying to remember where I read this.

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    1. Yes, a mid-wife did what she could do. We forget that these medical advancements haven't been around all that long, and families were desperate to save their babies, so they did what they had to do.

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  9. As one of the other posters had said it is amazing what technology we take for granted. I think about my grandmother who lived for 99 years. She saw everything come into existence that we use daily. From horse drawn carriages to cars, from newspapers to radio, then tv and then computers. Wonder what I will see if I live that long.

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    1. Your grandmother certainly did live to see many changes! What an amazing thing that is.

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