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

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London County Council 1934

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

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Children taken for compulsory cleansing are either accompanied to the centre
by the school nurse or, in the case of outlying schools, are taken by ambulances.
In 1934, 11,531 children were conveyed in the ambulances.
Children suffering from scabies and impetigo are treated at the bathing
centres. The total of such cases was 5,545 for the year, a slight increase on the number
for the previous year (5,311).
Co-operation with the medical officers of the City of London and the metropolitan
boroughs in remedying verminous conditions in the homes of children has been
The number of children attending for warm baths during school hours was
31,742 compared with 32,610 in 1933.
The continued high incidence of scabies which shows no sign of abatement
gives cause for concern. The difficulties in dealing with this scourge are great.
While school children can be, and are, inspected, the disease which is very contagious
affects older and younger members of the family who cannot be inspected ; and,
although they are offered facilities for treatment by the local sanitary authority,
there is no means other than persuasion of ascertaining their condition or of bringing
pressure upon them to take advantage of the facilities. The school children, who
have been treated, return to homes where other members of the family are untreated
and reinfection is frequent.
The co-operation of the sanitary departments of the Borough Councils in respect
of simultaneous disinfection of homes is gratefully acknowledged.
Chronic invalidity.
The school attendance department reports each month the names of children
who have been absent from school for three months or more on account of illness.
Each year the cases on the list for the month of November are analysed, and the result
gives the only index available of the causes of chronic invalidity in childhood.
The returns were formerly dealt with at the head office, but in 1934, it was
found more convenient for them to be received at the local divisional medical offices,
where action could be more quickly taken in appropriate cases. The reduction in
the numbers shown in the subjoined table is due to the fact that the majority of
the children who are ill for long periods are dealt with at the Council's special children's
hospitals. In 1933 these were recognised by the Board of Education as hospital
schools. The children who are at these hospitals are therefore no longer accounted
" out of school," and no longer appear as in former years in the returns.
The subjoined table shows the number of children reported to have been out of
school for more than three months in November, 1934, and comparative figures for
the four preceding years.
The number of children absent on account of rheumatism, chorea and heart
disease still forms a very high proportion of the total and proves how largely this
group of diseases is responsible for ill-health in childhood, especially among girls,
who account for nearly twice as many cases as boys. Nervous disorders (including
17 cases of epilepsy and 5 of encephalitis lethargica) accounted for 59 children.
Ringworm, formerly a chief cause of prolonged absence from school, accounts for
only 5 cases, compared with 129 in 1919. Since the introduction of X-ray treatment
for ringworm, the average length of absence has steadily declined and consequent
upon the shorter period of infectivity the danger of the spread of the disease has
likewise diminished.
Among other ailments, respiratory diseases, other than tuberculosis, accounted
for 56 cases, and ear disease for 26.
On account of the greater incidence of the rheumatic diseases upon girls (191 as
against 129 in boys), the total invalidity amongst girls is greater than that amongst
boys (468 to 420). There were 22 boy cripples and 17 girl cripples.