London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Bethnal Green 1905

Report on the sanitary condition and vital statistics during the year 1905

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18
more costly foods than breast milk. Cow's milk
properly diluted and sweetened is the best available
substitute, but is a very imperfect one as it is deficient
in fat and contains too much casein (cheesy matter).
Condensed milk, even of the best kind, is very fatal.
It is twice as dangerous as fresh cow's milk, for it is a
preserved food and may cause scurvy rickets. It has
been estimated that babies fed upon condensed milk
have one hundred times as many deaths as breast fed
children. Most of the widely advertised patent foods
are absolutely poisonous. They all contain starch
which infants are quite unable to digest, and their
use should be prohibited by law. One cause of the
deleterious effect of condensed milk arises from the
fact that the whole tin is not consumed at once so soon
as it is opened but is allowed to lie open and exposed
to contamination from dust and flies. Flies are very
foul feeders; they browse indifferently upon tuberculous
sputum, dust bins and sweet condensed milk, to which
latter they constantly convey the germs of disease.
Another cause of trouble is the dummy or baby's
comforter. I have often seen this article, which has
been dropped on to the floor of a tram car, picked up
by the mother and after a perfunctory wipe with a foul
handkerchief, popped back again into the child's mouth.
Feeding bottles with long tubes and foul teats need
only mention to be reprobated.
4. Bronchitis and Pneumonia caused 120 deaths—
all except twenty-one amongst infants aged less than
three months. For statistical purposes the distinction
between these two diseases is purely artificial. Pneumonia
is of course the more serious of these two, and


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