This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Infant malnutrition: A return to Victorian values?

Written by: | Published:

The UK’s worrying levels of food poverty  The UK’s worrying levels of food poverty have led to the return of diseases associated with the Victorian age

Rickets was a scourge of dark, polluted, overcrowded Victorian slums. In 1855, Samuel Pearce, the Medical Officer of Health, for St Matthew, Bethnal Green, East London described the area as being as being ‘densely filled by the poorest class’, a labyrinth of streets where ‘hundreds swarm like bees in close, un-sunned, low-lying courts’.1

Rickets, not surprisingly, was rife: 21.4% of children’s skeletons buried in a Bethnal Green cemetery between 1840 and 1855 showed evidence of rickets.1 A 1884 survey reported discovering signs of rickets in every child examined in Clydeside.2 As late as the 1930s, more than 80% of children in London and Durham showed symptoms of the disorder.3 As Roberta Bivins notes, rickets was ‘an emblematic indicator of preventable child malnutrition’.3

So, you might expect that rickets has long been consigned to the history books along with bustles, traction engines and the British Empire. Certainly, hospitalisations for rickets were low in the 1960s and 1970s. Rates then declined further, reaching a nadir of 3.4 children younger than 15 years per million between 1991 and 1996. But rickets seems to be making a comeback: hospitalisations for rickets reached 17.8 children per million between 2007 and 2011. Most of these were younger than 5 years of age.4


Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.


What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Newsletter

Sign up to the newsletter

About

Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.

Archive

Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team

Authors

Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.