Infant Mortality: A Continuing Social Problem by Eilidh Garrett, Robert Woods, Chris, Dr Galley, Nicola, Dr

By Eilidh Garrett, Robert Woods, Chris, Dr Galley, Nicola, Dr Shelton

In 1906, Sir George Newman's "Infant Mortality: A Social Problem", the most vital future health stories of the 20th century, was once released. To commemorate this anniversary, this quantity brings jointly an interdisciplinary workforce of best lecturers to judge Newman's serious contribution, to study present understandings of the heritage of child and early early life mortality, specifically in Britain, and to debate sleek techniques to boy or girl wellbeing and fitness as a continuous social challenge. the quantity argues that, even after a hundred years of healthiness programmes, clinical advances and scientific interventions, early-age mortality continues to be an important social challenge and it additionally proposes new methods of defining and tackling the matter of chronic mortality differentials.

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Writing to his sister in September 1904 he said of the Report, ‘It is good and bad – in some parts weak & inadequate. It also strikes me as 13 Comparison with other series of MOH reports, such as those for Birmingham and Sheffield, reveal that Newman’s are in no way exceptional (Galley, 2004). 14 A more sophisticated analysis was provided in 1906 (HMSO, 1906: xxxvii-xliv; cxvcxxxii). Some measure of overall decline was first identified and most of the key features of high IMRs discussed: since the close of the century, however, the subject of the waste of infant life, formally treated with apathy, has received close and increasing attention from all classes of the community, and to this awakening may fairly be ascribed some portion of the decline in the rate of infantile mortality that has taken place during the past few years (HMSO, 1906: xxxvii).

Key factors in this decline were the introduction of infant welfare schemes and, in the post-1945 period, the National Health Service. Despite very low levels of infant death in contemporary England and Wales, inequalities still remain and these Dorling attributes to poverty. Kelly, in the penultimate chapter, explores results from the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British Birth Cohort studies and the 1990s Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth. These have shown how social and health inequality throughout the lifecourse may be influenced by environment early in life.

Regardless of the level of inequality, the differences between mortality rates in the best and worst areas, or – and these may not always be interchangeable – the richest and poorest groups, highlight the fact that potentially avoidable infant deaths still occur as a result of social inequity a hundred years after Newman identified infant mortality as a social problem. In the remainder of her chapter Shelton discusses Newman’s legacy in terms of how contemporary policy relates to his agenda for prevention.

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