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

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Heston and Isleworth 1914

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Heston and Isleworth]

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in Syphilis and Gonorrhoea, as thereby an early and accurate
diagnosis could be made and a valuable index as to the value of
treatment provided. In this connection it may be of interest to
quote from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer to the Local
Government Board for 1914-15:—
"The venereal diseases requiring serious consideration are
Gonorrhoea and Syphilis. The first-named is the less
important of the two, although it is a frequent cause of chronic
suffering and sterility in women, as well as the chief source
of blindness occurring as the result of Ophthalmia of the
new-born. For preventing the serious consequences of this
last-named disease much active work, happily, is already
being done by Sanitary Authorities
The serious extent to which Syphilis affects the national
health is not generally realised. It is an important cause of
arterial degeneration and of Heart Disease; the chief if not
the only cause of locomotor ataxy and general paralysis of
the insane, as well as of various forms of skin and bone
The virus of Syphilis can be and commonly is transmitted
from the parent to the foetus in utero. The immediate
result often is abortion or miscarriage. All the evidence
available indicates that complete notification of still-births
followed up by medical enquiry would lead to the discovery
of a large amount of hitherto undetected Syphilis, and
would thus enable a large mass of disease to be treated, and
its transmission prevented. Apart from still-births, Syphilis
is a frequent cause of premature birth and of the 'Marasmus'
and 'Atrophy' which bulk largely in the causes of mortality
in the first month after birth. As shewn in a recent report
to the Board (Cd. 6909), the death-rate in the first and to
a less extent in the next two months of infancy has yielded
to improved conditions much less than the death-rate in the
later mbnths. Evidence is accumulating to shew that an
important share of this early infant mortality, as well as of