Within recent years the feeding of infants has been taken up by some municipal authorities as a means of preventing the great mortality during the first year of life. The French, led by the late Professor Budin of Paris, have been the pioneers of this work, and in France each milk distributing centre, known as a "Consultation de Nourissons" or "Goutte de Lait," is either self-supporting or is aided by the funds of the charitable. At first these centres were started by the energy and enthusiasm of some medical man who was familiar with the problems of infant feeding, but more recently some of the municipalities have taken up the work. In England the municipal milk depots have been modelled on the French system and are under the supervision of the district medical officer of health. Special measures are taken to ensure that the milk supplied shall be from a well kept farm and of good quality. After being cooled at the farm it is sent to the depot in sealed churns and is there strained, modified according to the age of the infant, bottled and sterilized. Each bottle holds enough for one meal, and the mother receives a sufficient supply of these bottles for one day.
With the excellent intentions of those who have introduced these municipal depots, and with the undoubted benefits conferred on the mothers by the advice they receive, we have not here to deal. If this system is to spread medical men will wish to know whether the infants are fed in a proper manner. The chief aim of the supporters of the system is to prevent the great mortality in infants under twelve months of age caused by infantile diarrhoea, as is known, and by tuberculosis, as is believed by many. This is secured by supplying sterilized milk direct to the infant. Tables have been put forward which profess to demonstrate a great reduction in the infantile death rate throughout the areas supplied by municipal milk. In these reports diseases which are not fatal, but which may be traceable to the method of feeding, are not considered, nor will fatal results after the age of twelve months, although traceable to dietetic faults in the earlier months, be tabulated.
Cases of scurvy from the use of municipal milk have been reported. The advantages and disadvantages of sterilization have been already discussed, and we have pointed out that sterilized milk does not appear to be a safe diet for infants. Nor does it appear advisable to modify the milk for infants according to an age standard only, to give one and all the same food in the same amount with the same regularity. Their minds later on will be fed on this system at the board schools, but it is not asking too much to request a little more attention to the individual requirements of their bodies during the earliest months of life. If municipal authorities could only ensure a supply of fresh, pure, unadulterated milk through the districts which they control, by the direct supervision of farms and dairies, they would undoubtedly lower the death rate and raise the standard of health amongst infants to a far greater extent than the milk depots can ever do.