Atkins, P.J. (2003) 'Mother's milk and infant death in Britain, circa 1900-1940.', Anthropology of food., 2 .
My contribution to this journal issue is to reconstruct the darker side of the most popular of infant foods. I will give a brief overview of contamination and disease in Britain's milk supply between 1880 and 1940, with particular reference to the impact upon infants. Not surprisingly, young children consumed a substantial proportion of market milk and, as a result, they seem to have suffered heavily from diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and summer diarrhoea. I will ask why these children were not wholly breast-fed and why relying upon artificial foods was such a risk. Also, I will give a preliminary report on my findings from data I have collected on the feeding of over three million infants, as recorded in the Medical Officer of Health Reports of 130 Local Authorities, mainly from England and Wales.
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