Chlorose, een verdwenen ziekte van kwijnende jonge meisjes

P.E. Treffers

Chlorosis, the lost disease of languid young women.

- Chlorosis or ‘green sickness’ was frequently seen in languid girls and young women in the 19th century but disappeared completely in the first part of the 20th century. The clinical picture comprised menstrual disorders such as amenorrhoea, pallor and many vague symptoms including apathy and hypochondria. At a later stage anaemia and iron deficiency became prominent characteristics. The skin was reported to take on a greenish hue, but this is disputable. Related diseases were hysteria and anorexia. In the middle of the 19th century hydrotherapy was treatment of choice, and later on iron therapy came to the fore. In 1898 Catharine van Tussenbroek, the first female Dutch gynaecologist, pointed to the social factors at the root of the disease: the lack of perspective for young girls in society at that time. The disappearance of the disease can be partially attributed to improved diagnostics but more so to changes in the social position of women around the turn of the century.