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

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Stepney 1938

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Stepney]

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Maternal Mortality.—There were 6 maternal deaths in 2,701 live and still
births, giving a maternal mortality rate of 2.22 as compared with 2.43 in 1937.
Of the maternal deaths, 3 were due to puerperal sepsis and 3 to other causes.
Three due to puerperal sepsis ;
(1) Septicaemia following abortion.
(2) Agranulocytosis following the medicinal administration of prontosil for
puerperal sepsis.
(3) Pulmonary embolism due to pelvic thrombophlebitis following childbirth.
Three due to other causes ;
(1) Pyelonephritis following retroverted gravid uterus impacted in the
(2) Pulmonary embolism due to thrombosis of the left internal iliac vein
following recent childbirth.
(3) Acute antepartem haemorrhage due to placenta praevia and natural
Every maternal death occurring in the borough is investigated and reports
are received from the doctors and midwives concerned. The reports are
examined in order to determine whether any of the deaths could have been
Of the above six deaths three were unavoidable. In one of these three
cases the patient had apparently an unfortunate idiosyncrasy to the drug
used in the treatment of the puerperal fever from which she was suffering.
Of the remaining three cases one might have been saved had she sought
hospital treatment sooner and two might have been saved if they had attended
an ante-natal clinic earlier. There were no cases associated with criminal