Dr. Robley Dunglison, on the other hand, referring to these same figures said: "We have already said that cholera infantum is the great scourge of our cities during the summer months, and this affection is doubtless in part occasioned by excessive heat; but that this alone does not induce it, is shown by the fact that in country situations, where the heat may be as great, it is comparatively rare."
Again, he says: "It has been already shown that not only is the general mortality of London greater than that of Philadelphia, but the deaths at the ages most liable to cholera infantum are more numerous also--a fact which confirms the remark just made, that something more than excessive heat is, in such cases, the lethiferous agent."
Dr. Dunglison assigned as the great cause of infant mortality, defective ventilation. Yet, as Dr. Page remarks, "this cannot account for the fearful increase of deaths of infants in summer, for the reason that at this season the houses of all, rich and poor, ate better ventilated than in winter, for doors and windows are freely opened."
The value of infant life did not increase during the next fifty years. There were born in Philadelphia during the five year period ending December 31, 1870, 85,957 living infants. Of this number 25,636 died before they were two years old, and a total of 31,662 before their fifth year, nearly thirty seven per cent.
Back in 1904 It was estimated that approximately 1,500,000 babies were born in this country every year. Over 750,000 of these infants were killed before they reached five years of age.
Dr. W. R. C. Laston, tells us of a city in which according to the Health Board Report of Sept. 7, 1910 there were 1,418 deaths of all ages, 775 of these being males and 643 females. During this same period there were 1,475 births, with 122 of these born dead. 143 of these infants died of congenital debility.
Today in this same country 77 out of every thousand babies born here, die during their first year--an infant death rate higher than war ravaged Belgium and France had immediately after the war. Contrast such a death rate with the deaths during the war when but ten out of every thousand men in the American army were killed in action or as a result of wounds received in action. Our mode of caring for our children is more deadly than modern warefare.
In this land of plenty and civilization 200,000 infants die every year, and the lives of over 400,000 more who live beyond the first year are blotted out under ten years of age. Many thousands more who reach maturity, carry with them the tell tale marks (disease, weakness, deformity, arrested development, etc.) of wrong care during the early years of life. This is a veritable slaughter of the innocents. Was not H. Mitchell Watchet right when he wrote,
"This land is swept with a storm of sighing,
The buds are beaten with rain of tears;
Sorrow berate o'er the babes, dying,
O'er empty cradles and childless years!
Silence! Oh fathers; be dumb oh mothers!
Your lamentations will not avail---
'Tis your thoughtless hands that the young lives smother,
Your selfish selves give the grave its tale."
Ancient Sparta, under the laws of Lycurgus, drowned her weak and sickly babies. We shudder with horror when we read of this and think the Spartans a cruel and merciless people, because they put to death an occasional infant. But look at us! We take our little ones who are born strong and healthy and kill them by the hundreds of thousands. By slow and painful processes we crush out their little lives, while the condemned babies of Ancient Sparta died suddenly and painlessly.
Dr. Oswald declares: "Infancy should be a period of exceptional health; the young of other creatures are healthier, as well as prettier, purer, and merrier, than the adults, yet the childhood years of the human animal are the years of sorest sickliness; statistics show that among the Caucasian races men of thirty have more hope to reach a good old age than a new born child has to reach the end of its second year."