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Author Topic: Softening of the brain - what does this mean? - COMPLETED THANKS.  (Read 8749 times)

Offline LizzieW

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Softening of the brain - what does this mean? - COMPLETED THANKS.
« on: Tuesday 10 March 09 13:16 GMT (UK) »
On the death certificate I have of one of my g.g.aunts who died aged 21, the cause of death is given as:

"Softening of the brain of 2 months duration"

Has anyone any idea what this means?  I've looked at the usual websites of archaic medical terms but can't find anything meaningful. 

If it is of any consequence, she gave birth to her second child on 23 January 1881 who died on 26 March 1881 from Bronchitis.  My g.g.aunt died on 7 June 1881 about 2 months after the death of her baby.  Although I imagine she was heartbroken at the death of her baby, she did also have a 3 year old son.  Tragically, he too died a couple of months after his mother from peritonitis.

Lizzie
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Offline genjen

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 13:29 GMT (UK) »
Hi,

The only reference I can find in archaic medical terms is "result of stroke or haemorrhage in the brain, resulting in a softening in that area"


Jen
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Offline greensleeves

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 13:31 GMT (UK) »
I'm sure someone with a bit of medical knowledge will be able to give you the definitive answer, but it seems that 'softening of the brain' covers brain haemorrhage, inflammation of the brain (could this be encephalitis?), and deterioration caused by malnutrition.

Greensleeves
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 14:34 GMT (UK) »
A localised softening of the brain substance, due to haemorrhage or inflammation. Apparently there were three varieties, distinguished by their colour and representing different stages of the morbid process, are known respectively as red, yellow, and white, softening. I also understand that softening of the brain was a sign of advanced syphilis.

Stan
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 14:40 GMT (UK) »
There is quite a lot about softening of the brain at  http://www.rootschat.com/links/05sq/   

Stan
Mapstone, Mapston. Sunderland, Somerset
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Offline LizzieW

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 15:09 GMT (UK) »
Encephalitis is an interesting thought as in 1991, my daughter in law ended up in intensive care at about 8 days post natal with encephalitis and it was only because the drug Zovirax had recently become available as an intravenous drug, that she survived.  D.I.L is really skinny, but her face and head were so swollen that she was unrecognizable.

If it was encephalitis, and she swelled up like my D.I.L. then I guess they would call it softening of the brain.  Otherwise - how would they have known?  Did they do post mortems in 1881?

Stan - I doubt she had advanced syphilis at 21, especially as her husband was only 23 at the time himself.  Not only that, when he died 5 years later he died of Phthisis with no mention of Syphilis.  Also her father didn't die until 1904, so not a hereditary thing

Lizzie
Benson Dalton in Furness (Ulverston) and Hull, Boulton Dalton-in-Furness and surrounding areas, Brand Lincs. Cockett Lincs, Yorks, Lancs, Da Costa (or variants) Spain/Portugal, London, Gilchrist Lincs, Scotland, Mann Sussex, Kent, Herts, Mumby, Lincs and Hull, Pemberton Ches, Lancashire, Stanton Lincs, Robinson Lincs, Whittaker Ches/Lancs, Wright Bethnal Green

NB. All UK census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.co.uk

Offline chinakay

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 16:14 GMT (UK) »
It's possible for a person to be born with syphilis, or any other STD, passed on from the mother.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_syphilis

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China
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Offline LizzieW

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 10 March 09 22:36 GMT (UK) »
China - I haven't found her mother's death yet, but she was still alive on the 1901 census, so presumably she didn't have syphilis either.  I'm sure you couldn't live with it from at least 1860 when her daughter was born until after 1901, that's more than 40 years.

Lizzie

ps.  I'm not disputing that people did have syphilis, I had a g.uncle who died in an asylum from a syphilis related illness, I just don't think it was the case in this particular family.
Benson Dalton in Furness (Ulverston) and Hull, Boulton Dalton-in-Furness and surrounding areas, Brand Lincs. Cockett Lincs, Yorks, Lancs, Da Costa (or variants) Spain/Portugal, London, Gilchrist Lincs, Scotland, Mann Sussex, Kent, Herts, Mumby, Lincs and Hull, Pemberton Ches, Lancashire, Stanton Lincs, Robinson Lincs, Whittaker Ches/Lancs, Wright Bethnal Green

NB. All UK census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.co.uk

Offline trish1120

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Re: Softening of the brain - what does this mean?
« Reply #8 on: Wednesday 11 March 09 02:17 GMT (UK) »

I have a death cert (1866, aged 28) with this as COD as well. As he was a Mariner, presumed it could be related to malnutrition or any tropical disease picked up on travels. I think it is a pretty generic term with any brain swelling with unknown cause at this time in history.

Cheers,
trish
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