The Kuo Chao Shih Story

In 1922 the following story was recorded. Although it is over 75 years old, it is an excellent article which clearly illustrates the role of nutrition in saving mothers and babies from toxemiaAs-defined-by-the-1997-Merriam-Webster-M.... In this case, it completely reversed the disease state.

A Case History

On Food Deficiency Simulating Pregnancy Toxaemia


by J. Preston Maxwell, M.D. (London), F.R.C.S. (Engl.)
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Peking Union Medical College, China.

Please see Dr. Brewer’s notes on this article by clicking on the corresponding numbers within the text.

Kuo Chao Shih, Case No. 2,247, age 20 years, a secundipara [second pregnancy], was admitted to the Peking Union Medical College Hospital on May 5th, 1922.1 She staggered into the consulting room, rather dazed, complaining that for a week she had suffered from pain in the epigastrium, headache, and dimness of vision. She had general oedema [swelling], especially in the legs and face. Her last monthly period had begun on September 19th, 1921, so she was about 33-34 weeks pregnant. Further examination after admission revealed:

The uterus was only just above the umbilicus2, about 22 weeks size and was beginning to act [contract], definite pains occurring every 4-5 minutes; the patient, who was only half conscious, was complaining as they came on.

The urine contained a trace of protein3 and a very few red and white cells, and there were no casts.

Oedema was marked in the legs, which were swollen to twice their normal size, less marked over the back, but the face and hands were distinctly puffy. The blood pressure was normal.3 (not recorded here)

Owing to the fact that she had suffered a good deal of vomiting in the early months of pregnancy and did not want to eat, 4 for the last two to three months had been as follows: One meal a day of polished rice or whole wheat flour with a very small portion of vegetable and a little salted sesamum jam.

The following diet5 was ordered: Cod liver oil, one teaspoonful three times a day; milk-spinach soup once a day (this consists of approximately two tablespoonfuls of pounded spinach to 6 ounces of milk); milk and eggs and soft diet. The nurse saw to it that these were really taken. Full diet in addition to milk and milk-spinach soup was given as soon as the patient began to improve. For the first day or two, the patient was intensely uncomfortable owing to her stomach not having been accustomed to proper meals. Bromide was administered to stop the uterine contractions and it acted at once6.

The oedema began to decrease, and by the end of a week it had disappeared…(emphasis added)

One of the most remarkable results of the forced feeding was the growth of the uterus7, which began to increase at once, almost growing under one’s eyes, and by the middle of the ninth month it was more than equal in size to a normal pregnant uterus. (emphasis added)

A diagnosis of twins was hazarded, but the sounds of two foetal hearts were never detected and the diagnosis was left undecided. During the last 10 days of pregnancy the legs again became oedemateous, apparently due to the pressure of the large uterus, since the face remained free [of oedema]. Labour started on June 19th, 1922, at 4:30 a.m.; the child was born at 9:25 a.m.; footling breech, 1,786 grammes. A second child, also a footling, was born five minutes later, weighing 1,832 grammes8. Both were girls and there was a single placenta. The mother made a normal recovery, and both mother and twins were thriving 5 months later.

from: Journ. Obstet. Gynaecol. British Empire 30:34-37, 1923.
Please Note: no diuretics, no weight control, no salt restriction, no “tocolytics”, no “rice days” and no aspirin! Simply feeding this mother saved her and her babies.

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