Save the Babies: American Public Health Reform and the Prevention of Infant Mortality, 1850-1929

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University of Michigan Press, 1998 - 302 páginas
Today fewer than one in a hundred American babies die in infancy. But a century ago, as many as one in six did. Historian Richard Meckel analyzes the efforts of American reformers who mounted a campaign to reduce infant mortality, from its "discovery" as a social problem in the 1850s to the limited success in securing federal funding for infancy and maternity programs in the 1920s. In a substantive epilogue, he also traces the evolution of American infant welfare policy from the 1930s to 1990.
Meckel depicts a reform movement that had a single overriding goal but was made up of professional groups with often competing ideas and agendas. He shows how interaction between these groups, as well as changing social and medical theories, propelled the movement through three overlapping phases. In the first phase, infant welfare activists sought to reduce infant mortality through general environmental reform. In the second, they attempted to upgrade the quality of commercial milk. And in the third, they turned their attention to improving mothers' abilities to carry, bear, and rear healthy infants.
By placing this movement within an international context, Meckel also illustrates how and why the United States, virtually alone among the industrialized nations, stopped short of establishing a comprehensive, government-sponsored infant welfare program.
Drawing upon medical, demographic, social welfare, political, and women's history, Save the Babies will be of interest to historians and policymakers alike, and provides context for a contemporary understanding of many health issues that are still with us today.
Richard Meckel is Associate Professor in the Department of American Civilization and the Department of History, Brown University.
Today fewer than one in a hundred American babies die in infancy. But a century ago, as many as one in six did. Historian Richard Meckel analyzes the efforts of American reformers who mounted a campaign to reduce infant mortality, from its "discovery" as a social problem in the 1850s to the limited success in securing federal funding for infancy and maternity programs in the 1920s. In a substantive epilogue, he also traces the evolution of American infant welfare policy from the 1930s to 1990.
Meckel depicts a reform movement that had a single overriding goal but was made up of professional groups with often competing ideas and agendas. He shows how interaction between these groups, as well as changing social and medical theories, propelled the movement through three overlapping phases. In the first phase, infant welfare activists sought to reduce infant mortality through general environmental reform. In the second, they attempted to upgrade the quality of commercial milk. And in the third, they turned their attention to improving mothers' abilities to carry, bear, and rear healthy infants.
By placing this movement within an international context, Meckel also illustrates how and why the United States, virtually alone among the industrialized nations, stopped short of establishing a comprehensive, government-sponsored infant welfare program.
Drawing upon medical, demographic, social welfare, political, and women's history, Save the Babies will be of interest to historians and policymakers alike, and provides context for a contemporary understanding of many health issues that are still with us today.
Richard Meckel is Associate Professor in the Department of American Civilization and the Department of History, Brown University.
 

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Índice

Cities as Infant Abattoirs AngloAmerican Sanitary Reform and the Discovery of Urban Infant Mortality
11
Improper Aliment American Pediatrics and Infant Feeding
40
Pure Milk for Babes Improving the Urban Milk Supply
62
A Question of Motherhood
92
Better Mothers Better Babies Better Homes
124
Before the Baby Comes Neonatal Mortality and the Promotion of Prenatal Care
159
The Steps Not Taken The Rediscovery of Poverty and the Rejection of Maternity Insurance
178
Defeat in Victory Victory in Defeat The SheppardTowner Act
200
Progress along a farrow and Bumpy Path Infant and Maternal Welfare after SheppardTowner
220
Abbreviations
237
Infant and Neonatal Mortality Rates by Race United States 19151985
238
Maternal Mortality Rates by Race United States 19151985
240
Notes
243
Index
295
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