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

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Walthamstow 1904

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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The very poor in physique and circumstances seem to crowd near
the railway stations, and the wives and children seem not to have similar
inducements to walk and take fresh air that those removed from the
shopping localities have, and consequently both mothers and children
Joined to this there is an amount of drinking in public houses
amongst the women of the St. James Street Ward, which must act
injuriously on the children and the homes. What is applicable to St.
James Street is equally so to portions of the Wood Street Ward, and
here we have partly the explanation of our high infant mortality rate.
It is doubtful if poverty is the cause of drunkenness, but there is no
doubt that drink is the cause of much of the dirt and poverty among
our working classes, and here again we must look to our girls' schools
to produce an altered state of things.
The deaths under one year of age were over 37 per cent, of the
total deaths, compared with 34 per cent, in 1903, and were 13*5 per
cent, of the registered births as compared with 14-6 per cent, for
England and Wales.

The following shows in tabular form the numbers and causes of death in children under five years in 1904 and 1903 :—

Disease.1904.1903. Disease.1904.1903.
Measles4545 Cancer11
Scarlet Fever73 Premature Birth6266
Influenza11 Developmental Diseases9490
Whooping Cough2934 Meningitis1814
Diphtheria2013 Acute bronchitis3244
Croup2— Lobar pneumonia1818
Enteric Fever1— Lobular do.4548
Diarrhoea8225 Diseases of stomach613
Zymotic Enteritis9935 Obstruction of intestines2
Enteritis420 Bright's disease32
Gastric-Enteritis13— Accidents or negligence2323
Septic Diseases41 All other causes4654
Tuberculosis of Meninges1316__
Do. Lungs33693587
Do. other forms2216
match: ALTO ComposedBlock
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Over half of the total deaths of the district are in children under
five years of age. One hundred and fifty-two of these, or one-fourth,
died within a short time of birth from prematurity and constitutional
weakness; and 496, or over one-third, died within the first year of life.
Of every 22 children born three died within the first year, a proportion
closely resembling that of the country generally, the balance being in
favour of your district.

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