We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Article |

What Was Wrong With Tiny Tim?

Donald W. Lewis, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(12):1403-1407. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160240013002.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


• One of the most endearing characters in English literature is Tiny Tim, the crippled son of Ebenezer Scrooge's clerk, Bob Cratchit. Yet the nature of Tiny Tim's multifaceted and implicitly reversible illness is a mystery and open to debate and speculation. From details of the original manuscript and the eight film versions, it is possible to construct a differential diagnosis for Tim's short stature, asymmetric crippling disorder, and curious intermittent weakness that would lead to his death, if untreated, within a period of 1 year. Following the ghostly visitations, Scrooge vows to assist the struggling Cratchit family financially, thereby making available the best medical care money could buy. From review of pediatrics texts from 1830 to 1850, a recommended treatment plan would have included (1) general measures such as country air and exercise, and fish oils such as cod and halibut (vitamin D), and (2) specific treatments of tonics (containing combinations of belladonna, opium, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, and potassium chloride) emphasizing alkalis, and splinting and bracing the limbs. Such treatments with vitamin D and alkalinization with sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate suggest the plausible speculation that Tiny Tim had renal tubular acidosis (type I), a disorder that is characterized by growth failure and, if left untreated, complicated by osteomalacia with pathologic fractures, hypokalemic muscle weakness and periodic paralysis, nephrocalcinosis leading to renal failure, and death. I propose that Tiny Tim had distal renal tubular acidosis (type I).

(AJDC. 1992;146:1403-1407)


Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?





Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.