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.
inmates are found on admission to be suffering from the same complaint. It may happen that live or
six children are admitted, each with a different illness, necessitating that they shall be kept apart, not
only from the general body, but also from each other. In addition to the rooms for infectious cases,
provision has to be made for nursing cases of acute illness, at any rate in the initial stages prior to
removal to a hospital. Equally important with the provision of sick rooms has been the appointment of
a nurse to each place of detention. The decision of the Council to have every child medically examined
as soon after admission as possible, for the purpose of intercepting cases of infectio us disease, has
revealed the number of children who enter the places of detention suffering from defects which had
previously been unrecognised, or with suppurating wounds upon their bodies. At Pentonville, in four
months, 98 children were found to need minor surgical attention and the nurse carried out 1,130
dressings. The following notes have been prepared by Dr. Hawkes from the notes made on the admission
of 493 children to the Pentonville-road Place of Detention.
State of nutrition.
Very good 20
Good 97
Average 165
Bad 56
Very bad 14
State of nutrition.
Very good 8
Good 51
Average 59
Bad 16
Very bad 7

The following table shows the average height and weight of boys and girls.

Boy3 (352).Girls (141).
Age. (1)Height in centimetres. (2)Weight in kilograms. (3)Height in centimetres. (4)Weight in kilograms. (5)

Such data as were available for comparing the height and weight show that up to the age of 14
the children in the places of detention were little below the average for the elementary schools of London,
but that the older children charged with offences against the law were usually well developed, especially
the girls.

A series of observations was made upon the effect of residence, the children being weighed on admission and discharge. The following table shows the results obtained:—

Sex.Total number.Weight.

The boys who lost weight were of the age periods from 9-12, and the change may in part
be due to the absence of exercise, and it might be wise in the case of the boys to give longer periods
of daily drill and organised games in the open-air. The confinement would naturally be less felt by the
girls, who do not roam so much about the streets.