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Social Medicine

Fighting infant mortality – organizations, institutions, activities

Nadezhda Mihaylova


The aim of the study is to investigate the fight against infant mortality in the second half of 19-th century till the 1930-s, by examining it in four selected countries, significantly different in rates of the indicators and development of the healthcare system – France, Great Britain, Russia, USA.



A historical-documentary method is applied for achieving the aim.

There are some common features of the fight against infant mortality for the defined period in the four countries – recognition of infant mortality as a socially important problem, expansion and enrichment of the statistics, and on their basis development and implementation of measures for its reduction. Risks related to the mother, low socio-economic status, bad hygiene, especially in urban environments are the main reasons for the high infant mortality rates. Physicians and social reformers are the main actors in the development of organizations fighting infant mortality. Charity has a leading role in improving child health in the lack of social policy. During the first half of the 20th century legislation was passed in many countries on the protection of motherhood and childhood, aimed at all regardless of their socio-economic status. Specific structures and organizations for prevention mothers and children are established, good practices such as health-visitors are applied, medical and social approaches are integrated. The fight against infant mortality entered a new stage after the Second World War, grounded on the concept of the development of maternal and child healthcare, when the majour scientific inventions in medicine contribute to its successful reаlization.


infant mortality; legislation; organizations fighting against infant mortality; motherhood and childhood; consultations;

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