The Newborn and Neonatal Paediatrics

  • Philippa Mein Smith


In the 1920s professional interest and official concern expanded to the newborn. From 1900 to 1920 reformers were preoccupied with infant mortality, but their priorities after 1920 were neonatal (first month) mortality in babies and the deaths of mothers in childbirth. The spotlight was on birth and how birth was managed, to ensure the survival of the newborn child and its mother. I am concentrating on the baby, as opposed to the mother, because infant and maternal mortality were different problems. Mother and baby died from different causes, with different determinants.1 While ‘maternal and infant welfare’ was an umbrella term, reformers’ own measures, the yardsticks of mortality, showed these were distinct problems that called for different strategies. Furthermore, in the minds of the powerful who devised pronatalist policies, it was the baby who mattered: mothers were fulfilling their duty to the race.


Infant Mortality Maternal Mortality Neonatal Mortality Maternity Hospital Community Midwife 
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Copyright information

© Philippa Mein Smith 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippa Mein Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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