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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Of the adult syphilitic cases, all were secondary except the following:—
One pregnant woman suffering from congenital syphilis and gonorrhoea, had received
treatment during pregnancy and gave birth to an infant with negative Wassermann and
Kahn reactions.
Three cases of tertiary syphilis. Of these, one woman aged 36 suffering from locomotor
ataxia, who had not received any treatment for syphilis until her admission six weeks before
her confinement, gave birth to a full-term infant whose blood was negative at birth, and
remained so when examined two months later; another woman admitted with a gumma of
the soft palate, who did not give any history of primary or secondary syphilis, and whose
only treatment was one injection a week before her confinement, gave birth to a syphilitic
infant; the third woman, who had gummatous ulceration of the legs and was admitted
with a syphilitic infant, had not had any treatment.
There was one case of latent syphilis in a woman aged 40. There was a history of live
births in 1919, 1921, 1924, but in 1926, 1929, 1931, 1932 she had had miscarriages. Her blood
was examined a fortnight before admission at an ante-natal clinic, and again on admission,
and found to give positive Wassermann and Kahn reactions. She gave birth a month after
admission to a full-term infant with negative blood, the mother's blood still remaining
Of the gonorrhoeal cases, as usual, the disease was well established before admission, and
only one case was received within the first month of infection, seven were suffering from arthritis,
all of whom were pregnant and had not received treatment for gonorrhoea prior to admission;
in five cases inflammation subsided with recovery of joint function ; in two cases of arthritis of
wrist joint, where the onset was several weeks before admission, the result was ankylosis of joint
with normal movements of fingers.
There were 22 cases of salpingitis and 20 of Bartholinitis.
Of the 9 cases found free from venereal disease, 3 were girls admitted with a history of a
positive Wassermann. On admission they were found free from clinical signs of V.D., and repeated
Wassermann and Kahn tests, after provocative injections, were negative. Six were suffering
from B. coli cervicitis.
As regards general diseases complicating venereal disease, there were: one case of bronchopneumonia,
four cases of epilepsy, four cases of valvular heart disease, one case of myocarditis,
and 50 cases suffering from scabies.
Of the 134 infants born alive, 26 were suffering from congenital syphilis. Nine of these
were infants of mothers admitted in labour and who had not received any ante-natal treatment
for syphilis. The remaining 17 were born of mothers who had only received treatment during
the last month of pregnancy.
Seventeen women who had received a course of treatment before the 7th month of pregnancy
gave birth to healthy infants.
Two infants, of mothers admitted in labour and suffering from gonorrhœa for which they
had not sought treatment, developed ophthalmia neonatorum.
In the three cases of still-births, the mothers were admitted in labour: one was suffering
from untreated syphilis and the remaining two from gonorrhoea.
The sources from which patients were received were as follows :—
Adults. Infants.
Public assistance institutions 105 11
Voluntary hospital clinics 108 3
Social workers 19 —
Police court probation officers 65 —
Private doctors 2 —
During the year the numbers of cases discharged were : adults, 305; infants, 146. One
adult and four infants died. The cause of death in the adult was myocardial degeneration
(syphilis). Three of the infants died from congenital syphilis and prematurity and the other
from convulsions.
2.—hospitals for tuberculosis.
Heatherwood hospital, Ascot.
In December, 1929, the United Services Fund offered to transfer Heatherwood
hospital to the Council as a free gift after the cessation of the fund in about eight
years time from then, and this generous offer was gratefully accepted. During
1934, at the request of the United Services Fund, the Council agreed to take over
the hospital on 1st October, 1934, on the understanding that the hospital should
continue to be available for the treatment of children of ex-service men and women
(who would have preference) as well as others resident in the county of London,
suffering from orthopaedic conditions. The Chairman of the Council of Management
of the United Services Fund, Major-General Lord Loch, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.,
M.V.O., D.L., formally handed over the title deeds of the hospital to the Chairman
of the Hospitals and Medical Services Committee at the hospital on 2nd November,
to the

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