Procter, Ruth Janet (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Following the appointment of a Medical Officer of Health for Birmingham, concern was frequently expressed by the Council regarding the high infant mortality rate, although it was only in 1899 that municipal action was taken to address the issue. This study reviews the context in which infant deaths occurred in Birmingham, presenting an analysis of the statistics provided by the Medical Officer of Health from 1873 to 1938, and making an assessment of the main causes of infant deaths. Interventions, both voluntary and municipal, which were implemented in the city, are investigated and their impact evaluated. It will be shown that health visiting and maternal and child welfare centres developed city wide, contributing to a decline in deaths due to diarrhoea and debility, while having no apparent impact on deaths due to prematurity. By using the municipal and voluntary agency reports, this study will show that initially there was a want of care shown by the local authority, with statistical change occurring only after the introduction of health visiting, although by initiating a culture of intervention the voluntary sector can be considered to have made a contribution to the reduction of infant mortality in Birmingham.
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