Did Goldilocks have Prader-Willi syndrome?

Fairytales reveal enduring characteristics of the human condition, a respiratory paediatrician says

Was Snow White poisoned by Listeria monocytogenes? And are the Mad Hatter’s antics a result of chronic mercurial poisoning?

Three bears

These are the questions a Melbourne-based respiratory paediatrician has been asking as he plunges down the rabbit hole of fairytales and folklore.

He has been on a quest to find out what recognisable medical conditions these stories might harbour.

“In a pre-modern medical world, authors often made astute observations of people and built them into their stories,” Associate Professor John Massie, from

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