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

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Bermondsey 1915

Report on the sanitary condition of the Borough of Bermondsey for the year 1915

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Measles, whooping cough, respiratory and tubercular diseases
are chiefly accountable for the increase.
In column 1, foot of Table I. of the Appendix, will be found a
list of places where deaths of non-parishioners occurred in the district.
There were 38 such deaths in all, against 26 in 1914, and 21
in 1913.
21 such deaths occurred in the infirmary; 1 in the workhouse;
8 in River Thames; 7in Surrey Commercial Docks; and 1 in Horseferry
Dry Dock.
542 persons belonging to this Borough died in outlying institutions,
against 516 in 1914, and 534 in 1913. The names of the
various places where the deaths occurred will be found in columns
2 and 3 at foot of Table I. of Appendix.
Infantile Mortality.
An infantile mortality of 154 per 1,000 births is high compared
with the previous 8 years. On comparing Table V. of Appendix
with the corresponding table of 1914 it will be seen that the mortality
under one month for 1915 is 137, against 152 for 1914. In the
period 1-3 months the figures are identical, but in the three periods
included in the interval 3-12 months those of 1915, viz., 297 against
232 for 1914, show that the causes of the increase are only operative
after the first three months of life. A further examination of the
table will show that the increase is almost entirely due to the larger
number of deaths from measles, whooping cough, pneumonia and
bronchitis. The decrease in 1915 under 3 months is very satisfactory,
as it shows that the ordinary ante-natal and natal influences
which produce premature birth, atrophy, debility, etc., were not
particularly at work, and that the increase during the late months of
the first year is largely due to infection introduced from without the
Borough, and the cold, damp winter and spring within, increasing
the prevalence of measles, whooping cough and respiratory diseases
Neglect of infants by so many mothers going prematurely to
work after confinement may partly account for the increased mortality,
though this might be expected to operate in a marked manner
between 1 and 3 months old, but the absence of an increase during
this period largely discounts this as a cause.