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

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Deptford 1911

Annual report on the health of the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford

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30
11. Industrial employment of many of our women
in the borough is probably one of the important influences
at work, for it is obvious that girls and young women who
are employed in industrial work for many hours daily
have little time to make themselves practically familiar
with the very numerous and often apparently unimportant
matters which make all the difference between a wellordered
home and one which lacks the influence of a
capable mother.
The fact of employment in factories after confinement
obviously militates against a mother feeding her child
naturally. From statistics I have collected elsewhere, I
find that 75 per cent, of the mothers who were not industrially
employed, and whose babies lived 12 months,
fed their children naturally up to the age of 12 months,
whilst only 27 per cent, of those industrially employed did
so. Further, the mortality of summer diarrhoea was, in
the .whole population, 30 times greater among bottle-fed
children than among breast-fed children, so that factory
labour by preventing breast feeding, must have a pernicious
influence.
12. Food.—This is also a factor in contributing to
the high rate of infantile mortality, especially Milk, which
becomes contaminated by exposure to dust or filth and
emanations, etc. Flies are frequently the means of conveyance,
and the important part played by flies in the
dissemination of disease has long been recognised. There
is hardly a house in the East Ward with a proper receptacle
or pantry for food, and where there is, it is insufficiently
lighted and ventilated. Breast-fed children are remarkably
free from disease, and those partially breast-fed come
next; the mortality is much higher among children artificially
fed, and especially if fed by the bottle.


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