Docs Try to Diagnose Tiny Tim

Dickens gave scant evidence, but the web is full of theories
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2007 3:39 PM CST
Actors Tommy Steele (R) and Laurence Belcher (M) who plays Tiny Tim pose with Cratchit's family at a photocall to promote his role as Ebenezer Scrooge in the new stage version of 'Scrooge' at the London...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Armchair physicians across the web are trying to solve one of literature’s greatest mysteries: what the heck was wrong with Tiny Tim? All we know is that Dickens’ wretch was a small, sick, crutch-wielder, who was prone to weakness and doomed unless ol’ Ebeneezer loosened his purse strings. It’s not much to go on, but LiveScience has found some credible theories.

The two leading diagnoses are kidney disease, specifically renal tubular acidosis (RTA), and Rickets. RTA can retard growth, deform limbs, and bring on weakness, and 19th century medicine would know how to treat it—assuming Scrooge was paying. Rickets, or Vitamin D deficiency, would be common in smog-covered London, and could be cured by a produce-rich, Scrooge-funded diet.