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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Details are set out below:—

Table 4.

Age group.1924.1927.1930.1933.1934.
Sound.Serious decay.Sound.Serious decay.Sound.Serious decay.Sound.Serious decay.Sound.Serious decay.
Entrants boys59.012.551.715.353.014.756.111.654.311.3
„ girls58.412.450.715.252.214.955.311.754.311.4
8-year-old boys58.510.*68.7*5.0
„ girls58.*67.6*5.5
12-year-old boys68.03.470.62.773.†75.9†1.5
„ girls70.52.672.32.375.31.677.01.1†77.9†l.2
All above age groups62.18.560.39.362.98.667.45.865.76.3

* 7.year-old children. † 11.year-old children.
N.B.—Serious decay means four or more carious teeth requiring treatment.
It will be seen that the condition of the teeth of the 11-year-old children
examined in 1934 does not differ very appreciably from that of the 12-year-old
children examined in 1933, and that the 7-year-old children of 1934 are distinctly
worse than the 8-year-old group of 1933, while the entrants of 1934 have smaller
percentages with sound teeth than those of 1933.
The halt in progress and, worse, the definite regression in the condition of the
teeth is the one great blot which the returns show in 1934. It will be noted, however,
that it is the younger children who are chiefly concerned, and that the older children
who have longer been under the influence of school conditions and have had the
benefit of school dentistry do not reveal the same falling away.
The revelation last year of the setback in the numbers of children attending for
treatment at the dental centres acted as a whip to those engaged in propaganda work
and following-up, and the treatment results given on a later page show an improvement
during 1934, which cannot fail to produce better results in the condition of the
teeth as found at routine inspections.
Each year children other than entrant infants have their visual acuity tested by
means of the Snellen cards, those whose defects have been corrected having their
vision tested wearing their glasses. The entrants of course cannot be tested as
they do not know their letters. It was one of the reasons for ante-dating the
inspection of the second group, that school children generally would have their
first vision test a year earlier—at seven instead of eight. It is interesting therefore
to compare the results of the 7-year test with those of the 8-year-old children
inspected last year. In the 7-year-old boys inspected during 1934, 40.1 per cent.
failed to reach normal vision, while in 1933, 39.7 of the 8-year-old boys failed;
amongst the 7-year-old girls in 1934, 40.5 per cent. failed compared with 40.4 per
cent. of the 8-year-old girls in 1933.
The close approximation between these results is remarkable. It was feared
that possibly a worse result might have been attained amongst the 7-year-old children
owing to greater unfamiliarity with the letters, and that some allowance would have
to be made for this. It appears now, however, that the 7-year-old test of vision is
quite reliable. The earlier correction of defects resulting from the change should
make an appreciable difference later.
Amongst the 11-year-old group in 1934, 33.9 per cent. of the boys and 35.4 per
cent. of the girls failed to pass the normal vision test, while in 1933 in the 12-year-old
group 35.9 per cent. boys and 37.5 per cent. girls were unable to do so.
There has been in recent years a considerable improvement in the numbers of
children reaching normal vision, and a tendency for the visual acuity of the girls,
which was formerly far worse, to approximate more closely to that of the boys.