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

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Greenwich 1961

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Greenwich Borough]

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Bad housing, overcrowding, poor sanitation, low standards of
education, all tend to produce higher Infant Mortality Rates. It
follows, therefore, that the Infant Mortality Rate should provide a
good index to the social circumstances of any particular area.
However, Infant Mortality Rates which are based on the
number of births occurring in the same year as the infant deaths
are not comparable year by year unless the birth rates remain more
or less constant because approximately one-third of the infants
dying in any one year will be found to have been born in the
previous year.
Further, it must be borne in mind that when dealing with small
figures the slightest deviation in the number of deaths tends to
misleading fluctuations in the rate. Consequently care must be
exercised when drawing conclusions from any rise or fall in Infant
Mortality Rates.
Recognising the importance of ensuring as far as possible the
uniformity and comparability of statistics in relation to diseases
and causes of death, the Registrar-General has, from 1st January,
1950, implemented the Nomenclature Regulations, 1948, as
suggested by the World Health Organisation. Although these regulations
are not binding on Medical Officers of Health, it is essential
that the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries
and Causes of Death, 1955, should be adopted in order that local
statistics can be compared with national figures and national with
Classification of Deaths.—It should be borne in mind that
the statistical data compiled locally relating to cause of death may
not entirely agree with the figures furnished to Local Authorities
by the Registrar-General. Classification of the cause of death is
taken from one or more causes as stated on the medical certificate
in accordance with the rules generally adopted throughout England
and Wales.
The Registrar-General is able, in cases where it is deemed
desirable, to obtain fuller information from the certifying practitioner.
This enables his department to modify the original classification—hence
the possibilities of discrepancies in some cases
between the figures prepared locally and those referred by the
Common Infectious Diseases.—Under this classification
comprising Measles, Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough
and Diarrhoea, no deaths were registered for the current year