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

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Islington 1861

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Islington, Parish of St Mary]

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on the
The continuance of the hot weather, the mean temperature being
62.9, has had its customary influence upon the public health. The
registered mortality for the month has been 235: the mean of five
previous years, augmented by one-sixth for increased population, being
213, we must conclude that there has been recorded an excess of 22
deaths over the average. Fifty-two deaths occurred from various forms
of bowel complaint, the corrected mean of five years being 35. All but
four were of young children under five years of age, 34 being in their
first year. Nearly all these deaths from bowel complaint occurred
amongst the children of the lower classes. It is these who are the
main sufferers from extremes of temperature, fatal attacks of chest
disease arising in the winter from deficient protection against the cold,
and of bowel affections in the summer arising from the malarious
atmosphere breathed within the house in their hot, crowded, and
stifling bed-rooms, and without the house from the putrescent gases
issuing from untrapped drains, unwashed privies, and unpaved yards,
the earth of which is saturated only too commonly with everything that
is offensive. Private practitioners on the other hand have found but
little sickness of any kind during the month. This probably arises
from the yearly improving sanitary habits of the better classes and more
intelligent, and from the fact that all who can by any means afford it,
now spend a portion of each summer with their families away from
town. With such, one of the most frequent causes of summer infantile
diarrhœa is the mistake of weaning infants at this season. It should
be generally known that the summer is the very worst time of the
year for this purpose, and that every effort should be made to defer
the process until the setting in of the colder weather.

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