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

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St Pancras 1910

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St. Pancras, London, Borough of]

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female. They must be stimulated to realise their proucl position of preparing
their children, and rendering tliem physically fit, ,for passing through the
scholastic period, through which all children in a modern state must pass in
order to enter the ranks of a civilised community.
They should be advised, guided, and assisted by periodical medical consultations,
by instruction in hygiene and the maternal and domestic arts, and by
assistance in the training of their children, both in special institutions and at
The solution of the difficulty lies in the formation of institutions for the
teaching and practice of Mothercraft. Whether these are called schools, or
consultations, or assemblies, or by any other name, matters not so long as they
are free from scholastic influence and are run upon maternal lines. Such
schools of Mothercraft should embrace the instruction of mothers as well as
the training of children—one great essential of such schools should be medical
consultations and advice not only for expectant, suckling, and nursing mothers,
but also for their children from birth to compulsory school age—so that
children might be weighed, measured, and medically examined periodically,
but at longer intervals as age increases. Such periodical medical examinations
at such institutions, coupled with timely advice and assistance, would prevent
many of the defects now requiring to be cured, at great trouble and expense,
and often discovered too late to be remedied.
If the moneys and efforts now spent upon trying to educate scholastically
children under five years of age, and the moneys contributed to the maintenance
of milk depots, day nurseries, nursery schools, and similar philanthropic efforts,
were all to converge into one channel of schools of Mothercraft, dealing comprehensively
with mothers and infants up to compulsory school age, the effect
of such a scheme could not fail to produce the most beneficial results.
The last observation I would make is, that although a few Local Education
Authorities exclude children under five years of age from school, I hope to
live to see all such Authorities adopt this course. I also hope to live to see
schools of Mothercraft at work everywhere, and the ailments of children, now
discovered and cured at such great trouble and expense, prevented before they
have arisen.