AT THE end of the last century it was generally accepted that the newborn infant of a tuberculous mother was doomed to inherit the malady. However, by the first quarter of the present century a changing attitude became apparent, largely due to the investigations of French clinicians. In a series of papers Debré and LeLong1 in 1925 described their procedures, clinical observations and experimental findings.
The newborn were separated from their mothers at birth and were protected from postnatal contacts over a prolonged period. Those that died (15 per cent of the series) were autopsied. Two hundred guinea pigs were inoculated with fragments of viscera (particularly the liver, spleen, mesenteric nodes, bone marrow) to determine the presence of tubercle bacilli, and the findings were negative.
From their studies these authors concluded that death in the early months did not result from hereditary and constitutional factors but rather from artificial