Aggie Higgins Lit a Candle

Blue Ribbon Babies in Montreal

Mrs. Agnes C. Higgins of the Montreal Diet Dispensary (MDD), P.Q., Canada, died Tuesday, August 27, 1985, of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung; she smoked cigarettes as a young woman and quit too late. in her later years she became an outspoken foe of cigarette-smoking.

Aggie lit a candle in 1963 in the darkness of the German-Swiss international drug industry’s THALIDOMIDE II ERA in world obstetrics: the near-universal use of low salt, low calorie “diets” and sodium diuretics, and the “know-nothing” ideology regarding the roles of malnutrition/good nutrition in human pregnancy disease/health, worldwide.

Mrs. Higgins had learned from the work of Harvard’s Bertha Burke, her mentor, and from her own clinical observations that protein-calorie (p - c) deficiencies during pregnancy cause a wide spectrum of reproductive casualty of human mothers and their babies, especially intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) of placenta and baby, metabolic toxemiaAs-defined-by-the-1997-Merriam-Webster-M... of late pregnancy, placental abruptions, stillbirths, premature births and low birth weight babies.

With a little help from George Maughan, M.D., Professor & Chief of OB-GYN, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Aggie began her scientific feeding program for “low income, high risk” mothers at the MDD to help each woman possible produce a healthy, full-term “Blue Ribbon Baby,” the result of a healthy, “blue ribbon” pregnancy.

At this time every textbook, every journal article in obstetrics, medicine, pediatrics, public health, nutrition science and dietetics every academic pundit, rigidly insisted (as they still insist today), that p - c deficiencies severe enough to cause these major complications of human pregnancy have never existed in the so-called “advanced, developed, industrialized, Western nations.”

Aggie knew this is a lie, a rigid class assumption (physician class) with no scientific basis whatsoever. She “believed” that nearly all pregnant women could become healthy and stay healthy during pregnancy, without drugs, with enough decent foods to eat, salt to taste, water to thirst–and with proper education and “eyeball-to-eyeball” counseling, as she termed it.

Aggie acted on her beliefs that low income women are not genetically doomed to produce defective, underweight, born-sick, premature babies; she gave women in need GOOD FOODS TO EAT: milk, eggs, oranges. She found that the average woman who arrived in the MDD for the first visit in the second trimester needed daily throughout the rest of her pregnancy 500 calories and 30 grams of high biological quality proteins MORE than she was eating.

Thus by simply adding to the daily diets of many women just one more quart of whole milk, Aggie was able to produce the miracle of the 20th century: A BLUE RIBBON BABY. No wonder her many Establishment critics branded her work “simplistic”!

Even though the U.S.A. March of Dimes Foundation has damned Aggie’s work with faint praise, it has generally been buried in North America, in Europe, in most of the world. Her work stands as a classic, pioneering, scientific contribution to Women’s Health by an outstanding, dedicated, enlightened woman! Aggie brought “prenatal caring” into a traditional, sloppy, nonchalant, stupid, drug-oriented, surgery-oriented, technology- dominated, medical Establishment “prenatal care.”

We must all light our candles now–and lift the Establishment’s bushel off hers!

Tom Brewer, M.D.
San Francisco, USA
September 3, 1985

Reference: Higgins, Agnes C.:”Nutritional status & the outcome of pregnancy.” J. Canadian Dietet. Assoc.37:17, 1976.

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