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

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Walthamstow 1910

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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Working in association with those responsible for mothers' meetings,
a tactful and sympathetic woman would be capable of effecting
immense good, by advice to the expectant mother and to those mothers
revealed by the Act's operations, more particularly in those Wards,
where the mothers need it most.
The facing table (No. VI ), giving the deaths of children under 1 year
of age, is in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government
Board. The table is most instructive, and will help in forming a
judgment as to the possible saving of infant life that may be effected if
my suggestion is carried out.
Of the 283 children so dealt with, 120 died within the first month
of life.
Prematurity and inanition—inability to live—account for 68, or more
than half; congenital defects and inability to thrive account for 25
others ; convulsions and overlaying bring the total to 103.
Within the next three months 53 others have died, mainly from
Prematurity, Bronchitis and Pneumonia, and Wasting Diseases, and so
on to the end of the year, the latter diseases seem to be the chief cause
of death.

In the formation of Table V. (L.G.B.), the deaths attributable to each Ward are indistinguishable. Dealing with the principal causes only, the following are the figures:—

Deaths from
Ward.No. of Births.Prematurity and Developmental.Disease of Lungs.Whooping Cough and Measles.Diarrhœa
St. James Street659432437
High Street565201025
Hoe Street52120631
Wood Stree4102122

The deaths from Diarrhœa were below the usual in all the Wards,
those from Syphilis and overlying similar to 1909. The deaths certified
as due to Syphilis are the most unreliable of all recorded, and it is quite
safe to say that two deaths in no way represent the total : more probably
many of those attributed to Prematurity and Inanition should be
grouped under this heading.
The influence of want of parental care upon Infantile Mortality could
not be better exemplified than in the 22 deaths among the 53 illegitimates.
These unwanted children are hardly ever breast-fed, being
generally placed out to nurse and die.