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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170 Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912.
1 arrested phthisis. No active signs now.
3 suspected phthisis. All improved considerably.
2 spinal curvatures. Both improved.
4 cases of impaired hearing. Two improved.
1 otitis. Practically well.
1 follicular conjunctivitis (specially marked). Improved.
8 " nerve signs." Five improved, two not improved, one had chorea lately.
C defective vision (including results of old severe inflammation). Noted for treatment as
specially serious.
To obtain some rough idea of mental progress, the master in charge consented to adopt the following
test, based on Burgerstein's method:—
In April, each boy was given 20 simple sums in addition, to work in a given time, 62 minutes.
In October, the same number of sums of equal difficulty were set for the same time. Taking the work of
22 boys, the average of correct answers in April was 7 6, in October 9 8.
Besides the special defects the general condition of the boys was much below normal. Many of
them were stunted physically and still more so mentallly, some showed so-called " stigmata of degeneration."
The appearance of the boys as regards clothing, cleanliness, condition, etc., was markedly bad
at first, but later there was some improvement in this respect. Any improvement in these boys is more
noteworthy in view of the fact that their home conditions, etc., made any influence for good very difficult.
Garratt-Lane (Wandsworth).—The class was composed of fifteen boys whose ages varied from
11 to 134/12, the average being 129/12 years. The number of children suffering from colds is reported to
have been exceptionally small, and the average gains in height and weight were as follows:—
Height 2.5 centimetres, normal 2.1 centimetres.
Weight 1.4 kilograms „ 1.1 kilograms.
Holy Trinity, Vaushall Bridge-road (Westminster).—In this case, the class was made up of
infants picked out from the ordinary classes for malnutrition, or some other defect. The personnel of
the class changed frequently, and only twelve children attended throughout the period. In these children
the increase in height and weight is said to have been greater than in the case of average children taught
indoors.
"John Ruskin" (Newington, IF.).—Both boys and girls were physically below the average, and
material improvement in the general condition was noted. Comparison with an indoor class showed
a greater increase in physical measurements in the case of the playground children, but the figures have
not been provided.
New End (Hampstead).—A mixed class composed of 26 boys and 17 girls. The class was held
in the semi-covered roof playground attached to the senior department, and was completely sheltered
on the north side. The pupils ranged from eight to twelve years of age, and had been selected
by the teachers on account of inferior physique. In all the children there was an improvement in the
conditions of general nutrition.
The heights and weights of the boys were taken on 29th April, and on 29th October. Of 24 boys
thus measured, the lowest recorded height on the first occasion was 113 centimetres, and the highest
136 centimetres. On the second occasion the lowest was 117 centimetres and the highest 140 centimetres
(the same boys). The greatest increase in height was five centimetres (two cases); the smallest 3/4
centimetre (one boy, who, however, increased three kilograms in weight). The average for the 24
boys in April was 123.5 centimetres, and in October 128 centimetres, an average increase of 4.5
centimetres.
Of the same group of boys the lowest recorded weight in April was 21 kilograms (four boys), and
the highest 35 (one boy). In October the lowest recorded weight was 23 kilograms (three boys), and the
highest 36 (the same boy as in April). The average weight in April was 24.5 and in October 27
kilograms, an average increase of three kilograms.
The records of the heights and weights of girls have not been kept so well, and only seventeen are
available for purposes of comparison. In general the improvement of the girls is not so marked as that
of the boys. In April the lowest recorded height among the girls was 115 centimetres (three cases),
and the highest 136 centimetres (one girl). In October the lowest height was 118 (two of the girls whose
height was 115 centimetres in April), and the highest 141 centimetres (the tallest girl in April). The
average height in April was 123.5, and in October, 126.5, an average increase of three centimetres.
The weight records show the same diversity. In April the highest weight recorded among the
girls was 30 kilograms, and the lowest 19 (one case of each) ; in October the highest recorded weight was
32 kilograms (three cases), and the lowest 21 kilograms (also three cases). The average weight during
April was 24.5 kilograms, and during October 26 kilograms, an average increase of 1.5 kilograms only
as compared with the three kilograms among the boys. In one or two cases among the girls the increase
of weight was very slight, being less than a quarter of a kilogram. In one the weight remained stationary,
though the height increased; this girl suffered from repeated attacks of bronchial catarrh, and was
much neglected and ill-nourished.
On the whole the records show that there has been, with few exceptions, a conspicuous increase
in the heights and weights of the children. In view of the fact that the average of nutrition is high
among these children, some credit must be given to the class environment in producing these favourable
results.
Measurements of the chest can only give an approximate idea of the chest capacity ; in order