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Death before BirthFetal Health and Mortality in Historical Perspective$
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Robert Woods

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542758

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542758.001.0001

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Arguments from Medical History and Demography

Arguments from Medical History and Demography

(p.189) 7 Arguments from Medical History and Demography
Death before Birth

Robert Woods (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter makes and justifies a claim: medical and demographic histories are inseparable when fetal health and life chances are the subjects. It is argued that there was an improvement in the effectiveness of midwifery practice in England during the 18th century especially for high-risk cases, but that no substantial advances occurred during the 19th century and first third of the 20th century. These changes need to be set alongside the effects of maternal infections that affected the fetus in utero, such as smallpox. Demographic history provides an account of average risk, of the general experience of fetal loss, against which the impact of individuals, institutions, scientific discoveries, specific diseases, and new technologies can be set.

Keywords:   midwifery, maternal infections, smallpox, syphilis, nutrition, growth restriction, medical history, historical demography

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