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

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Walthamstow 1934

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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The following table shows the position with regard to Maternal Mortality compared with that for England and Wales:—

Births Registered.Deaths of women due to Pregnancy and Child-Bearing.
WALTHAMSTOW.England and Wales.
Puerperal Sepsis.Other Puerperal Causes.Total.Rates per 1,000 Births Registered.Rates per 1,000 Births Registered.
Puerperal Sepsis.Other Puerperal Causes.Total.Puerperal Sepsis.Other Puerperal causes.Total.
Live 1,715 ,, and75124.082.916.992.032.574.60
Stillbirths 1,77575123.942.816.751.952.464.41

The average Maternal Mortality rate for the ten years 1924 to
1933 (inclusive) was 3.32 against 4.21 for England and Wales.
The table opposite this page gives full particulars of all the
Maternal Deaths in respect of which inquiry forms were completed
and sent to the Ministry of Health.
Of the 12 women dying in, or in connection with, child birth,
7 were due to sepsis, five had obtained no ante-natal care of any
kind, and one only had come under the Council's Services. The
latter died from fulminant puerperal eclampsia—there was no
warning sign of any kind, and the death was quite unavoidable.
Unemployment and/or malnutrition was only noted in one
case. In four cases reasonably definite suggestion of induced (and
illegal) abortion was obtained. Two were unmarried mothers.
From statements made by medical practitioners, health visitors
and district midwives working in the town, there can be no question
but that practices such as drug taking and illegally induced abortions
are being increasingly undertaken with a view to the
termination of pregnancy.
The 1934 Maternal Mortality rate for Walthamstow will render
it one of the "black-listed" areas, but it is felt that this unenviable
position is due more to the neglect and folly of expectant mothers,
than to any omission by the Council to provide every conceivable
obstetric service.