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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all, regulate infant health. Where I find a high infant mortality, it is to that street
or district my principal attention is always directedfor the discovery and removal of
local conditions of ill health, the abatement of overcrowding, dirt, and the occupation
of kitchens as sleeping rooms.
11. And in respect to kitchen occupation, I have a word to say about two of the
districts in the first group. It will be observed that Shepherdess and Mildmay
districts stand very high in their infant mortality, and last year they stood nearer in
character to some of the better districts in the third group than to some of the worst
in their own. I do not wish it to be understood that the practice I am about to
mention is the main cause of this, but it is well known that most of the new houses
in these districts are constructed with what are termed breakfast parlours in the
basement, otherwise, what would be front kitchens are metamorphosed into sittingrooms,
in which the younger members of the family spend much of the day. This
practice is reprehensible. Such rooms are usually impurfectly ventilated; if there
be any dampness in the house, it is there that it will be found, and if there are
any noxious exhalations from the drains or foundation of the bouse it is there that
they will be most concentrated. When visiting sick persons in houses thus arranged,
and also when making official visits to them, I have constantly taken the opportunity
of expressing this opinion in private by way of warning; I now state it publicly.
From what I have myself seen of the use of such rooms, I am satisfied that the
health of the children would be better were it abandoned.
a. Zymotic Causes.
12. Of the 2,941 deaths recorded in Table I, 846 were attributed to these
causes directly; and of the 1405 deaths of infants, 603 were thus referred. The
number is high; it is due manly to the prevalence of scarlet fever and hooping
cough, and to the larger number of deaths from bowel complaints, consequent upon
a summer temperature higher than the average. Referred to the several districts
the deaths occurred thus :—

Showing the Proportion of Families to each Death from a Zymotic Cause in the several Sanitary Districts or Groups of Districts.

Districts.Deaths from Zymotic causes.No. of Families to one Zymodic death.Districts.Deaths from Zymotic causes.No of Families to one Zymotic death.Districts.Deaths from Zymotie causes.No. of Families to one Zymotic death.
Mildmay1339.2lighburyvale633.5Balls Pond3818.6
Shepherdess3344 0Freehold1333.6Battle Bridge1928.7
Barnsbury3947.1Rotherfield3738.7Irish Courts730.8
Market1647.8Lr. Holloway5439.2Hemerton8633.0
Highbury hill648.3Kingsland2841.8Queen's Road2135.0
Duncan363.3Trinity3544.3Wht. Conduit1639.8
Tuffnell1260.4St. Thomas2245.6Lower Road5843.6
Canonbury3166.7Church1449.0Belle Isle949.6
Hornsey road682.5Archway2258.1City Road1168.4
Hornsey Rise394.6St. Peter's2268.3
Park Street782.5
Highgate hill797.0
Whole Group17453.0Whole Group28.947.0Whole Group32636.2
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