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

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St Pancras 1914

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

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Contrasting with this result, is set out below the result of inquiries as to the feeding of the infants made by Miss Smith at the time of her first visits to notified births selected promiscuously.

under 1—2—3—41—2—3—4—5—6— 7—8—9—10—11–12
Breast fed394811510613635424....1......490
Mixed ,,..14892....1............25
Bottle „27511118..3..222......53

A more striking illustration of the fact that hand-fed children are more
likely to develop fatal diarrhoea than breast-fed children could scarcely be
desired than that furnished by the contrast between these tables.
In four of the cases, the mothers confessed to using the old-fashioned tube
Far more deaths from diarrhoea and enteritis took place amongst infants,
than from all the notifiable infectious diseases (except tuberculosis) in the
whole population, and this mortality must be regarded as strictly preventible.
Apart from the vital influence of breast-feeding as opposed to hand-feeding
the prevention of such deaths must be looked for (a) in better housing
conditions, and (b) ill a better social standard amongst the poor, particularly
in regard to cleanliness.
Hand-feed infants who died of diarrhoea in the 3rd quarter, were fed as
Plain cows' milk only 22
Pasteurised cows' milk 1
Cows' milk + general food 2
Cows' milk + condensed milk 3
Cows' milk + patent food 3
Condensed milk only 9
Condensed milk + patent food 1
Not known 7
The importance of this disease lies in the fact that it is responsible for
more cases of blindness than any other single cause, and that it is largely
preventible by suitable treatment of the eyes immediately after birth. When
it has developed, also, early and efficient treatment will generally avoid
permanent damage to the eyes.
It has been compulsorily notifiable by medical practitioners in London
since March, 1911, under Sec. 56 of the Public Health (London) Act, 1891.