The Journal of Science of Labour
Online ISSN : 2187-2570
Print ISSN : 0022-443X
Topics and Opinions
Answers of Ikutaro Hirai to Questions about the Lead-poisoning Theory of So-called Meningitis (Lead Encephalopathy) Presented by Kenichiro Takasu and Others in Acta Paediatrica Japonica
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2011 Volume 87 Issue 2 Pages 69-86


We have sketched the history of lead-poisoning in Japanese children in the serial form in the Journal of Science of Labour. In1923, Professor Ikutaro Hirai firstly reported in a pediatric journal, Acta Paediatrica Japonica, that the so-called meningitis in infancy (SCMI) was a chronic lead-poisoning disease caused by white lead in the mothers’ face powder. Kenichiro Takasu strongly objected to the Hirai’s lead poisoning theory. Takasu had seen some patients with an early stage of SCMI, but he recognized them as a rickets-like syndrome. He could not associate the patients’ signs and symptoms with chronic lead poisoning, although the patients showed lead-poisoning related findings in their red blood cells. Hirai conclusively stated with some pieces of evidence in his article in Acta Paediatrica Japonica that the rickets-like syndrome described by Takasu was an early stage of SCMI. On the other hand, Yasuhei Tani, Mitsunori Karazawa and Soukitsu Nagahama asked Hirai respectively for partial explanation of the lead poisoning-theory, and Hirai gave them simple and plain answers. After the heated discussion with Takasu, the Hirai’s lead-poisoning theory has been accepted in the world.

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© 2011 The Institute for Science of Labour
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