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

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St Pancras 1912

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

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In June of this year the London County Council scheme for the cleansing of
children came into operation at the St. Pancras Cleansing Station. Since that
date there has been a large increase in the clerical and visiting work connected
with the cleansing of school children. The result has been a considerable
curtailing of the infant work. Fortunately, owing to the cold summer, there
was no epidemic of infantile diarrhoea, so there was no necessity for a special
Infant Mortality Inquiry as in 1911.
I have again to record the invaluable help I have had in the co-operation
of the two St. Pancras Schools for Mothers, and also from the variousphilanthropic
and charitable bodies working in the Borough. These have
been of the greatest assistance in dealing with difficult and necessitous cases.
The clerical work in connection with the Notification of Births Act has been
done on the same lines as in previous years. Advice cards are sent to each
mother on the receipt of the Birth Notification. Comparisons are made weekly
between the Notified and Registered Births, and cautionary letters sent to
those fathers who have failed to comply with the Notification of Births Act.
Complete indices are also kept of all births and deaths of infants occurring in
the Borough. The subjoined table A shows the proportion of breast-fed,
mixed-fed and hand-fed infants in those cases inquired into during the year.
Ophthalmia Neonatorum.—Eighteen notifications of this disease have been
received. All these were being nursed at home when the first inquiry was
made. Three were afterwards admitted to hospital. In four cases Queen's or
other district nurses were called in, while 11 mothers were taught how to
carry out the doctor's instructions themselves. I have in every case made the
inquiry on the day of the receipt of the notification, and have afterwards kept
the case under observation, paying 57 re-visits, and arranging for the
disinfection of the clothing and bedding on the patient's recovery or removal
to hospital. It is satisfactory to note that there has been a diminution in the
number of these cases, only 18 having been notified during the entire tvear, as
compared with 26 during 9½ months in 1911.
It will be seen by the accompanying table that all these notifications were
received during the first four weeks of the infant's life, and 13 out of 18
during the first fortnight. The proportion of doctors and midwives attending
at these confinements may therefore be of interest, and is set out below :—
Doctors' cases 6
Midwives 10 18
Confinements in hospital 2
It may be noted that there has been no case of Ophthalmia Neonatorum
notified this year where a Professional Assistant—i.e., a Medical Student
attached to one of the Medical Schools situated in or near the Borough—has
attended at the confinement.
It is necessary to again emphasize the need for more instruction to be given
to the untrained nurse or relation who attends the mother and infant in the
intervals between the visits of the doctor or midwife. The trouble with the
infant's eyes can often be traced to this source.