Bute Hospital, Luton c.1913 [Z1306/75/5/3]
Friday 21st January 1916: The Acting Medical Officer has reported to Luton Town Council that cases of infectious disease fell last year despite the presence of 15,000 troops in the town in the early part of the year. The birth rate has fallen overall, which may be a result of the scaremongering in regard to “war babies”. Predictions of hundreds of illegitimate births due to the number of troops have proved over-pessimistic; in fact there has been an increase of only seven in the number of illegitimate babies. Despite attempts made to counteract it, there has been a rise in the number of infant deaths. Infantile mortality in the town has increased from 95 per 1000 births in 1914 to 125 in 1915. The main causes are considered to be the pre-occupation of mothers with billeting arrangements and munitions work, their stress and worry in the face of war conditions, and in some cases, over-indulgence in alcohol. This rise in infant deaths reflects a national trend with similar increases being reported across the country. The infant mortality rate is still considerably better than in the past; in 1912 it had been 135 per 1000 births, and in 1880 it was 190 per 1000.
Source: Luton Times, 21st January 1916