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

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St George (Southwark) 1897

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southwark, The Vestry of the Parish of St. George the Martyr]

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12 Parish of St. George the Martyr, Southwark.
In 1892 the total mortality under this heading was 539, which fell to 419 in 1893,
and to 363 in 1894, and has risen to 372 in 1896, and to 452 in 1897. These figures
represent a rate above that of the whole of London. That excess may, I think, be
somewhat closely connected with the dense acreage-population of the district, together
with its large proportion of tenement dwellers and the prevalence of indoor occupation.
A good deal of the mortality among young children is due to lung troubles, which
often follow measles and whooping cough.
The returns of deaths from consumption are not so heavy as one would expect in
so densely crowded and poverty-stricken a district. At the same time it should be
noted that the registrars have to depend for these figures on the death certificates, and
there can be no doubt that a certain number of cases are not correctly described.
This applies especially to alcoholism, and to such hereditary and constitutional
disorders as syphilis and consumption.
Mortality of Infants and Children.
The death-rates of infants under one year, and of children under five years, afford
valuable indirect evidence of the sanitary well-being of a community.
During 1897 the number of infants who died within the first year of life in
St. George's was 400. These figures give the high rate of 189 deaths to every 1,000
births in St. George's as compared with 159 deaths per 1,000 births for London. The
average rate for the years 1892-3-4-5-6-7, for St. George's was 191, as against 158 for
Of a total of 1,426 deaths at all ages in St. George's, 675 occurred under five
years, which gives the large percentage of 47.3 of the total number of deaths. It is
well known to specialists in children's diseases that "wasting" constitutes one of the
commonest causes of death among infants. Thousands of children die every year in
London simply because they are fed on food which they cannot digest, and which acts
as an irritant to the stomach and intestines.
The following are the most prominent diseases causing the infant mortality under
one year of age-:—


Tabes Mesenteric'a (bowel phthisis)16371038275130562228
Tubercular Meningitis, Hydrocephalus101210144
Other TuberculatA Scrofulous Diseases1116141212
Premature Birth3644392831
Whooping Cough2029302615
Suffocation in bed1220161513
Debility, Atrophy, and Inanition8488696545
Other causes not specified or ill-defined68244424
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The many causes leading to loss of infant life in St. George's may be thus

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