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

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London County Council 1912

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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166 Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912
great improvement Was noted, but in other conditions which required active treatment, such as otorrhcea,
no improvement was obtained. On the whole, colour, carriage and muscular tone improved noticeably,
and the boys became more alert and energetic. The average increase in chest measurement was 3.44
centimetres, and in chest movement, 1.4 centimetres. The average increase in height was 2.67 centimetres
(due largely to improved carriage), and average gain in weight, 1.74 kilograms.

The school doctor kept very careful records of individual increases in weight in this class, and the benefit derived by removing the children entirely from their surroundings is suggested by his analysis of the figures comparing the whole class with those who went away for a summer holiday and with those who were being fed at school.

Increase in weight in kilograms.
22nd July.3rd September.15th October.
Whole class (27)—.31+ 1.29+ 1.74
Boys who had a country holiday (7)—.38+ 1.44+ 1.92
Boys having meals at school (13)+ .05+ 11.9+ 1.62

Breathing exercises formed an important part of the curriculum, and the satisfactory results in producing chest expansion are shown in the following table:—

Average 24.4.12.Average 25.10.12.Average increase.
Full inspiration67 cm.70.4 cm.3.44 cm.
Range of movement56.4 „1.40 „

Type "B"
Type "B" Class.—The only class of this type was that at the "Forster" (Islington, E.)
school. It consisted of defective girls of all ages, and especially of those supposed to be "consumptive.
The principle of a definite rest time which was actually spent in sleep was adopted with good results.
The children are said to have been benefited by the outdoor treatment, but no figures are available.
Type "C"
Type "C" Classes.—The attention paid to these classes by the medical staff varied considerably
inasmuch as definite sessions could not in all cases be allotted to the supervision owing to the impossibility
of sparing time from statutory duties. Reports received from school doctors upon thirty-two of the classes
were almost all uniformly satisfactory. In certain cases the improvement of the children was compared
with a control class working under indoor conditions. This was done at the " John Ruskin," Berkshireroad,
Gainsborough-road and Fulham Palace-road schools. In the three former, the measurements
showed a considerable advantage on the side of the outdoor class. The measurements, however, do not
wholly express the benefit accruing to the children which is shown in various ways, such as greater
alertness, alleviation of minor conditions of ill-health and improved carriage. An important point to
notice is that the reports show that lessening of nasal catarrh and improvement in the habit of mouth
breathing were brought about by the open-air conditions. At Fulham Palace-road the results as shown
by comparison of physical measurements were disappointing, but this class was recruited from children
who appeared the most weakly scholars in the school, and, therefore, the comparison with a class of
healthier children is misleading. In this connection, it is to be pointed out that, although the committee
decided that no special selection should be made in classes of type " C," the medical reports make it
clear that in several schools the children were often, in fact, selected on the ground of physical defect
or mental dulness.
" Ben Jonson " [Stepney).—In this class the whole of Standard IIa. in the girls' department
was selected for the experiment, and the children were taken without any selection, either on the score
of age or mental powers. The average age of the class was ten years, and of twenty-eight children who
remained in constant attendance, and who were weighed and measured at least four times during the
period of observation, the average growth was 2.3 cm., and weight increase was 0.9 kilograms. In
five the weight alone increased, four remained stationary, and the remaining 19 showed both increase
iu weight and height.
The good effects of the class were not so noticeable as at either St. Paul's-road or Essex-street
schools, where specially picked children were taken for the class. This is also to be explained by the
fact that the class at the " Ben Jonson " school was held in a corner of the playground ill-adapted to
the purpose, being sunless, draughty and exposed, and no wind screen was forthcoming until late in the
term (June). Furthermore, the children themselves suffered severely owing to the continued dock
Berkshire-road (Hackney, S.).—The number of boys noted in the class was 57 ; the ages ranged
between nine and fourteen, but the great majority were about ten or eleven. This was an ordinary class
(Class V.), but they were the " slow " half of a set of about 100, thus their physical condition would be
expected to be below normal, and thirteen of the boys had obvious defects. The period of observation
as regards weighing and measuring extended over twenty-nine weeks, April to October. The gains of
weight and height were taken as average percentages of initial measurements, and a comparison was
made with a control indoor class. The figures were:—
Weight.—Percentage gain in Playground class = 4.92
„ „ control class = 4.0
„ „ another control class = 4.1
Height.— „ „ playground class = 2.08
„ control class = 1.78