WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

Previous in Blog: Laura Scudder (1881 - 1959): Potato Chip Packaging Pioneer   Next in Blog: Marie Maynard Daly: American Biochemist
Close
Close
Close
2 comments

Helen B. Taussig: Pediatric Cardiology Pioneer

Posted May 24, 2012 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Blue baby syndrome found a cure when Helen Taussig brought it to the attention of surgeons. Blue baby syndrome, or anoxemia, is a congenital heart defect that causes low oxygenation of the blood. Surgeon Alfred Blalock and assistant Vivien Thomas modified a surgical procedure to enable oxygenation of the blood.

Education and Career

Taussig was born on May 24, 1898. Childhood whooping cough damaged her hearing and she struggled with dyslexia during her early education. After working hard to overcome it, she studied at the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Taussig earned her MD from Johns Hopkins; at the time, Harvard only allowed women to attend classes by special permission. She went on to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and became a professor.

Pediatric Cardiology

Taussig was appointed the head of the Children's Heart Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric unit in 1930. She used fluoroscopy, an X-ray technique, to determine the cause of anoxemia. She determined that sufferers had leaking in the septum - the wall separating the heart's chambers - as well as underdevelopment in the artery leading from the heart to the lungs. Blue baby syndrome was caused by a lack of blood flow to the lungs.

In 1943 Taussig took part in a discussion about anoxemia between surgeons. One doctor wondered if the carotid artery could be used as a bypass. Taussig responded that if that was possible, the subclavian artery could be put into the pulmonary artery, thus resolving the problems of anoxemia.

The first operation was performed in 1944 and although the 11 month old patient died after a second procedure, it was considered a success. The procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

Taussig would eventually lose her hearing and listened to patients by lip reading. She developed alternative techniques such as using her fingers to listen to babies' hearts. She also relied on X-rays, electrocardiographs, and other examination methods.

Taussig traveled to Germany and England in 1960 to find out what was causing an increase in congenital malformations. She determined that the drug thalidomide, a tranquilizer used in pregnant women, caused birth defects. She testified before Congress and saw that the drug was banned in the U.S by the FDA.

Other Accomplishments

  • 1947 - Authored the book Congenital Malformations of the Heart.
  • 1964 - Received the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson.
  • 1965 - Became first female president of the American Heart Association.
  • 2005 - Johns Hopkins School of Medicine named one of its four colleges after her; the Helen B. Taussig Children's Pediatric Cardiac Center was also named in her honor.

Taussig died in a car accident on May 20, 1986 - four days before turning 88 years old.

Resources:

Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions [image]

NLM - Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig

NNDB - Helen B. Taussig

Wikipedia - Blue baby syndrome

Wikipedia - Helen B. Taussing

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC USA
Posts: 13529
Good Answers: 467
#1

Re: Helen B. Taussig: Pediatric Cardiology Pioneer

05/26/2012 11:16 AM

Against my better judgement, I'm going to say that you forgot to mention the best part about blue babies........................they're quiet.

__________________
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC USA
Posts: 13529
Good Answers: 467
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Helen B. Taussig: Pediatric Cardiology Pioneer

05/27/2012 8:56 PM

Lest anyone get the wrong impression................that's called a sick joke.

Yeah, we know. You're just not that funny.

__________________
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Reply to Blog Entry 2 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: Laura Scudder (1881 - 1959): Potato Chip Packaging Pioneer   Next in Blog: Marie Maynard Daly: American Biochemist

Advertisement