Willen Daily Life

Infant mortality

The table lists the top ten causes of infant mortality in Britain today and in 1949. It shows that over 10 times as many children died in Britain fifty years ago compared with today. The most common reasons for death have changed too. In 1949 was most deaths were associated with problems at birth.In days gone by most babies were born at home If anything went wrong, there was little that could be done to help. Today, medical improvements and hospital births have made birth much safer.
Pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchitis killed a great many children, as did enteritis and diarrhoea. These are diseases associated with poor living conditions. Without central heating most houses, including those of the rich, were cold and damp. The lack of fridges meant that food was difficult to keep fresh. These days keeping things clean is much easier.

Other infectious diseases caught in the first year of life account for another large number of infant deaths. Some of the improvement is due to better diet and living conditions, but most children are now vaccinated against some of the biggest killers like diptheria, whooping cough and measles. Should you catch a disease, modern drugs like antibiotics enable us to cure diseases very quickly.

Curiously, there were twice as many deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 1949 than now. Given the huge increase in traffic, this could seem surprising. However, cars are much safer than they were, and children are supervised far more these days. In days gone by children roamed around without parents to keep an eye on them, so they were more likely to get run over.

Deaths from genetic disorders such as cancer have not changed much, this is because they are not closely linked to living conditions and medicine is still a long way from finding a cure.