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

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Walthamstow 1909

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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The total number of births registered during the year was 3,369—
males 1,652, females 1,717.
Thirty-three of these (males 18, females 15) were born at the Union
Workhouse, and 4 males and 1 female elsewhere.
Of the total births 59 were illegitimate, and of these 32 were males
and 27 females. Eighteen of them took place at the Workhouse,
5 elsewhere without, and the remainder within the district. The
number of these births has varied but little since 1901.
The number of births yearly since the last census was as follows :—
1901, 3,210; 1902, 3,426; 1903, 3,535; 1904, 3,649; 1905, 3,389;
1906, 3,594; 1907, 3,629; and 1908, 3,482.
The births in 1909 were fewer than in any year since 1901, and
assuming the population of the Registrar-General to be correct our birthrate
was 24-66, the lowest recorded since 1880.
The discrepancy in the number of births registered, as given by me
(3,369), and in the four quarterly returns of the Registrar-General
(3,291), is not easy to explain, and although making little difference
in the birth-rate it vitiates the infant mortality rate by 7.6 per 1,000.
A birth-rate of 26 per 1,000 on an estimated population of 129,000
would be a more correct expression of what the birth-rate actually was,
and more in consonance with the rate of 25.7 of the 76 Great Towns.
"We must expect that here as elsewhere similar forces are operating
to check the rate of growth to which we had become accustomed, and
we may attribute much of our decline to slackness of work and the
competition of women with men in the London labour market. I have
no knowledge that in your district less moral reasons have much to do
with it."
"Care to preserve and render efficient those children born counterbalances
the small birth-rate, and some compensation for it has been
also found in the lower general and infant death-rates."

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