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

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Lewisham 1962

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

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The decline in child mortality

The figures are the annual death rates per million children living in this country.

ALL CAUSES3,017523
Diphtheria, Measles, Whooping cough, Meningitis, Scarlet fever82417
Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Influenza70765
Non-traffic accidents14283
Road deaths13462

In only one of the earlier main causes of childhood deaths, namely
neoplasms (cancer), has there been an increase. This, though serious
and calling for increased research, should not prevent a feeling of gratitude
to the drug industry and to hygiene generally for the spectacular
decrease during a mere 25 years of so many other killers. The saving
of life and health (and thereby working capacity) has been phenomenal
and can be calculated in terms of money; the saving of the feelings of
parents and relatives is beyond calculation.
The figures for road deaths, however, have a more sinister side.
Although at first it seems surprising that they have decreased to less
than half of what they were 25 years ago the total number of casualties,
and also the number of fatal casualties, has steadily increased in the last
12 years, and the saving of life, in many cases offset by permanent
crippling, has been due to improved surgical techniques and to drugs.
These national figures can no doubt be applied almost exactly pro
rata to this borough.