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

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Finsbury 1910

Annual report on the public health of Finsbury for the year 1910

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69
Children over 5 years resist measles very much better than
children under 5 years—indeed 90 per cent. of the deaths amongst
children occur under 5 years of age.
In populous centres, infection takes place from child to child in
school and in the street, but the school is in all probability the
most potent factor in this connection.
In rural and sparsely populated districts infection is almost
entirely in school.
The facts adduced above are powerful reasons for excluding from
attendance at day school and Sunday school all children under 5
years.
Many, if not most of the deaths which occur are preventable.
The reasons why these deaths occur are given below.
1. Ignorance of Parents.—Many mothers, especially in
poorer districts, treat measles, quite wrongly, as a trifling disease.
It is quite uncommon to find a doctor in attendance—the cases
are treated by the mothers. The sick children are frequently left
unwashed "for fear of driving the rash inwardly." When a household
has been attacked it is quite common to find that the other
children who have not had it, and the children of neighbouring
families may be brought into the sick room, so that these too may
acquire the disease and have done with it once for all.
2. Home circumstances. The cases should be isolated as
early as possible. Unfortunately this is not always feasible in
Finsbury. Many families live and sleep in one room or in two
rooms at most. Often too the mother may have to go out to work
to support the family and leave the child in the care of a young
girl of 16 or 17 years, or to be looked after by a neighbour in the
intervals of her domestic duties. Or even worse, the mother may
lock up her tenement, take the key with her, and let the child, with
rash well out, run the streets until the mother's return from work
in the evening.


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