STATISTICAL COMPARISON OF THE MORTALITY OF BREAST-FED AND BOTTLE-FED INFANTS

WILLIAM H. DAVIS
1913 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine  
BOSTON The great importance of breast-feeding has long been known, but so far the subject has failed to secure its proper share of attention. Advertisements of infant foods and an abundance of medical literature on scientific feeding of infants have lulled both mothers and physicians into a false sense of security in the practice of artificial feeding. The fearful loss of infant life is so spread out over the entire country that the individual physician does not appreciate his own
more » ... s own responsibility, though a conservative estimate ascribes a full third of all infant deaths to unnecessary bottle feeding. During the siege of Paris, 1870-71, when the milk-supply failed, the Parisian women nursed their children and the infant mortality-rate fell from 330 to 170 per thousand births.1 A similar fall in the infant mortality-rate was seen "during the Lancashire cotton famine, when mothers were not at work in the mills."2 An analysis of 13,952 children born in Baudeloque's clinic showed an infant mortality of 14 per cent, for the breast-fed, 31 per cent, for those who were bottle-fed by their own mothers and 50 per cent, for those who were bottle-fed by strangers.3 And so throughout the civilized world, wherever a large percentage of mothers suckle their children, the infant mortality-rate is low. Norway and Sweden are examples with low rates, respectively, of 74 and 85 per 1,000 births.4 But the objection has been made that some mothers are unable to nurse their children. L. Emmett Holt5 estimated that not over 25 per cent, of the well-todo and cultured of New York City who had earnestly and intelligently attempted to nurse had succeeded in doing so for as long as three months.
doi:10.1001/archpedi.1913.04100270040003 fatcat:sxb6uq76srfvnnrxthlgce34om