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

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Shoreditch 1864

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Shoreditch, Parish of St. Leonard]

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age, carried off 99 persons. 16.—Various diseases of the abdominal
organs, as Stomach, Liver, Kidney Diseases, Dropsy, carried off
170 persons, the greater number of whom had passed 30 years of age.
17.—Laryngitis, a term including Croup and various cases of inflammation
of the air-passages, destroyed 75 lives, of which 66 were those of
children under 5. 18.—Cancer in various forms killed 52 persons.
19.—79 deaths, all being the subjects of Coroner's inquests were assigned
to various kinds of Violence, to Poison, and Drowning. 20.—24 deaths
were classed under Erysipelas. 21.—To Diphtheria 17. 22.—To
Small Pox 8. 23.—16 deaths were registered without any specified
cause. 24.—12 women died of childbed fever and 13 other women
died in childbed. Upon the deaths in childbed, I think it useful, in
view of frequently revived attempts to establish lying-in hospitals and
foundlings in this town, to offer an observation. The foundation of
similar institutions is of course advocated on the plea, that they are
necessary to promote the safety of lying-in women and their infants.
It is continually urged, that, whereas in most Roman Catholic and some
heathen Countries, lying-in hospitals and foundlings exist, Protestant
England boasting of its Charity and tender respect for human life
has few or none. It is especially contended that similar institutions
afford a substantial guarantee against the crime of infanticide.
The establishment of lying-in hospitals is a great sanitary question.
The establishment of foundlings is a great social and moral question,
as well as a sanitary one. Postponing the consideration of the social
and moral aspect although this is almost always inseparably associated
with the sanitary aspect, and looking at the matter solely as to its bearing
upon the saving of life, I think it will not be possible to shew in any
foreign community which maintains a lying-in hospital, a child-bed
mortality so low as 25 in 3710, or 1 in 148. And even this, the apparent
Shoreditch mortality is certainly far greater than the real, because only
live-births, and not all these, are registered. Now the lying-in hospital
mortality abroad, is at least 5 per cent., so that on 3710 births, the
hospital system would lose not 25, but 185 women. And when women
die in childbirth, their children's chance of life is sorely deteriorated.
The cause of this great mortality in lying-in hospitals is the almost

Table shewing the Death-rate in London and Shoreditch, year by year, from 1854 to 1864.

185418551856 18571858185918601861186218631864
London2.942.432.21 2.242.392.272.252.322.362.452.65
Shoreditch2.732.562.30 2.402.532.302.302.502.542.502.67