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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Report of the County Medical Officer—Education. 169
Essay of pupil, H— T—, on the benefits derived from the open-air class.—" Since I have been in the
open-air class I have had a better appetie (sic.) I have felt much better in health. My weight has increased
3.4 kilograms. My height has increased 4.5 cent. At first it seemed very cold downstairs but soon got
used to it. I have gained 12 per cent, in my blood. I have not such a bad temper, and I do not think I
am rough or selfish. My mother said I shall eat her out of house and home. I was very sorry when we
had to come upstairs but it is a little bit too cold down there now. I enjoyed the lovely walks we had.
And I have more brains to do my work with. The room is so stuffy. When it rained we went Under the
shed built for us but it was put up rather late."
Essex-street (Mile End).—The class consisted of Standard V. and a number of delicate children with
bronchitic and chronic lung conditions. The average age was 107/12 years, and the average increases in
weight and height were 2 kilograms and 2.1 centimetres respectively. A slight fall in increases in weight
was observed during the dock strike of June and July. The respiratory efficiency as measured by
chest expansion (difference of full expiration and inspiration) was marked in 23 of the class. Each
child was tested on three separate occasions, and, as a result of detailed and systematic breathing
exercises carried out by teachers, an increase in respiratory expansion varying from 2.3 centimetres to
0.5 centimetres was noted.
Fulham Palace-road (Fulham).—A girls' class of 80 children, but of 24 only was the continuity of
attendances sufficiently Unbroken to render the records of any value. The children were specially
selected by the teachers on account of ill-health. The school doctor made a comparison of the growth
with the ordinary children in the next indoor class, with the following result:—
Control children
Average growth in height in centimetres.
During class time 1.18 1.91
„ holidays .48 .29
Total 1.60 220
Growth in weight in kilograms.
During class time .27 .50
„ holidays .61 .74
Total .88 1.24
These figures are very disappointing, and suggest that not much benefit was obtained by the
children. Such a deduction, however, would probably be erroneous, as it must be borne in mind that,
although this class was supposed to be of " C " type, in point of fact it more closely approximated to the
" B " type. The poorest children in the school were, therefore, being compared with children above
the average. It is further to be noted that distinct mental improvement was observed in the children
in the open-air class.
Gainsborough-road (Hackney, S.).—The number of boys noted in the class was 30, the ages ranging
between ten and thirteen, with an average about twelve. The boys were selected from various classes
in the school, and thus every boy had some defect, and, beyond these defects, there was a very great
prevalence of mental dulness and personal neglect, etc. The period of observation as regards weighing
and measuring extended over 26 weeks. For an expression of the gain in weight and height, a rough
calculation was made showing the average percentage gains contrasted with a control class. The
figures were:—
Weight — Gain in playground class 5.8 per cent.
„ control class 4.1 „
Height „ playground class 1.72 „
„ control class 1.64 „

Special attention was paid to breathing exercises, and the effect is seen in improved chest expansion measured in centimetres:—

Average expansion in April5.44 cm.
„ „ October6.34 „

The Haemoglobin Index was taken for some 16 debilitated boys who volunteered. Comparing
the figures obtained in April and October, it was found that 13 showed increase varying from 5 to 30
per cent.; two remained stationary, and one showed a decrease of 5 per cent.
The special defects noted were :—
4 adenoids. Two showed improvement in symptoms.
4 enlarged tonsils. Three improved.
4 enlarged glands. Three improved.
3 enlarged hearts. Two improved.
2 blepharitis. Both cured by treatment, no cases now.
1 anaemia (marked). Not improved.
18820 Y