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To Save 100,000 Babies


October 5, 1912


This bureau [U.S. Children’s Bureau] was first urged by women who have lived long in settlements and who know as well as any person in this country certain aspects of the dumb misery which they desired the bureau to make articulate and intelligible. The bureau needs the sternest statistical accuracy at base, because its appeal to the noblest human passion of pity must never be founded upon anything but truth, because it must guard against the easy charge of sentimentality and must be able to present all its statements dispassionately with scientific candor and faithfulness . . . 

One of the most important inquiries will be into infant mortality. The great English statistician, Dr. Arthur Newholme, has said: “Infant mortality is the most sensitive index we possess of social welfare. If babies were wellborn and well cared for, their mortality would be negligible. The infant drath rate measures the intelligence, health, and right living of the fathers and mothers; the standards of morals and sanitation of communities and governments; the efficiency of physicians, nurses, health officers, and educators.”

It is a conservative estimate that 200,000 babies die in the United States every year. Dr. Cressy Wilbur, chief statistician of the census bureau, says that the lives of half could be saved by the application of methods within the reach of every comment. Professor Dietrich, a great German authority, says: “It was formerly believed that the rate of mortality among children who had not reached the first anniversary of their birth was a wise dispensation of nature intended to prevent children with weak constitutions from becoming too plentiful.”

Today we know that a great infant mortality is a national disaster on the one hand because numerous economic values are created without purpose and prematurely destroyed, and on the other hand because the causes of the high rate of infant mortality affect the owners of resistance of the other infants and weaken the strength of the nation in its next generation. Can you conceive a more satisfying purpose than to save the 100,000 babies who are now lost plainly to neglect?



Source: Lathrop, Julia C. “To Save 100,000 Babies.” San Francisco Call 112, no. 128 (October 6, 1912); p. 35.