In 1764 the Duke of Cumberland asked Dr. John Theobald of London to compile a medical guide for the young wife to manage her children from the time of their birth to the age of 7 years. In about 49 pages, Dr. Theobald wrote a book containing "everything necessary to be known relative to the nursing of children, from the time of their birth to the age of seven years; together with a plain and full account of every disorder, to which infants are subject, and a collection of efficacious remedies, suited to every disease."
This little book might well have been the "Spock" of its period. A good example of how Theobald presented the latest information about common pediatric diseases to young mothers—over 200 years ago—is this chapter on rickets.
This distemper most frequently affects children from nine months old, to two years and a half. The child at the beginning is seized with an aversion to motion, or exercise of any kind; the joints grow feeble and weak, and the flesh soft and flaccid; the head is over large, and the child's capacity exceeds its years. The belly is hard and very prominent; the bones of the arms and legs, grow crooked and are knotty at the joints; a cough comes on and difficulty of breathing; the pulse is low and languid, and an hectic fever carries off the child. Take of the beet manna a drachm and an half, of dried raisins an handful, common ale a pint; infuse them together for twelve hours, and then strain them; let the child drink a draught of this frequently. . .