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

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Hackney 1917

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney]

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breast-fed entirely up to at least six months, 98 to at least three
months. 51 have been only partially breast-fed, and 59 artificially
fed from birth; in the other cases the method of feeding has not
been noted.
It is chiefly among the artificially fed babies that severe
indigestion and wasting occur, but I believe that these cases have
all been dealt with successfully.
I have heard of eight deaths among the children who have
attended the Centre, two from diarrhoea, five others from whooping
cough, congenital syphilis, diphtheria, tuberculosis and congenital
heart disease respectively; one died suddenly from a cause not
ascertained. Of these eight children, six had been artificially fed
from birth.
There have been three definite cases of congenital syphilis,
and two have been treated at the New Hospital for Women by
means of injection of a salvarsan substitute to the mother; both
have done well. I have suspected the disease in two other cases
but the diagnosis has not been confirmed by the Wassermann test.
There have been three cases of cleft palate, one combined with
a hare lip; the dieting in these cases has been difficult but successful.
One of them is the child who died suddenly, another is unfortunately
probably an imbecile.
Three other children whom I believe to be imbecile are brought
to the Centre. A case of infant paralysis, one of clubfoot, one of
fractured thigh, a curious case of aphonia, and several bad cases of
rupture have been sent to suitable hospitals for treatment.
The diet difficulty has been great, as mothers have at times
been unable to obtain cow's milk or Nestle's milk, but a better
supply of foods at the Centre now obviates this difficulty. There
are, however, always a few mothers who are too poor to obtain
sufficient nourishment, and the children suffer in consequence.
Help for the poorer mothers is needed.

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