Huh, child mortality in 17th-century London wasn’t as bad as in the U.S. 200 years later.

IIRC, abortions do not count in the numbers on mortality in recent years.

I was referring to 19th-century child mortality in the U.S.


That’s probability of dying before age 5.

And that’s child mortality for the United States. Almost half of children born in 1800 didn’t make it to age 5. And now fewer than 1% don’t make it. That’s a 99% improvement in 215 years. But it wasn’t even over all those 215 years.

See the two blips?

1880 was a diphtheria outbreak, which mainly killed children.

1918 was the infamous Spanish flu pandemic, which killed across age groups, but hit young adults especially hard.


The 19th century was a rough time to live (or, in this case, not live). While there was some mortality improvement for children up til the Civil War, that diphtheria outbreak caused disimprovement.

But check out 1930. From 1920 to 1930, there was an almost 50% improvement of mortality. Not a 25 year period, but a 10 year period. Child mortality dropped from about 17% to 9% over that period.

Not only are abortions not counted, stillbirths aren’t counted. This is of children born alive.

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To be sure, Graunt was having to do some estimates to get his survival curves.

So maybe 17th-century London child mortality was just as bad as 19th-century U.S. child mortality.

I had taken Vorian’s comment to mean that a lot of fetuses with conditions not suitable for life are terminated in modern times that would otherwise have been born alive and died during early childhood, not stillbirths. But idk.

I’m rewatching little house on the prairie at the moment and I’m saddened by the pervasive loss and grief a person was forced to encounter then.

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I believe I understood VA pretty well.

But latching onto your last paragraph, I just finished an interesting biography of Jane Austen, and there were some other aspects of her life I learned that I didn’t know about before (such as her brother George, who may have been cognitively disabled in some way, but was farmed out somewhere else and pretty much never mentioned by most family members.)

Of course, there was a lot of death, especially maternal death, but plenty of sudden death and of course, Jane Austen’s own death in her early 40s from some unknown cause (Hodgkin’s disease? Addison’s?)

Though she had a couple of relatives who lived into their 90s, including her brother who became an admiral in the British Navy.

This was what I was thinking.

But it could also be very likely that “back in the day,” a child dying within 5 days of birth was treated the same as a still birth.

Curious where Graunt was getting birth records from. Probably wasn’t a birth registry at that time, maybe baptismal records? If that’s the case, then knowledge about average age at baptism (days) would be important.

Who is John Graunt?

OK, how was 19th Century London’s child mortality?
I mean, most of the advances have occurred in the late 19th century, eh?


Most of the advances occurred in the 20th century.

Heck, the child mortality rate in the U.S. only halved over 1800-1900.

The breakthroughs didn’t come through til between 1920-1930, when treatments for diphtheria were being developed.

That said, here we go:'_Perspective/links/5c9960d892851cf0ae98114f/Reducing-Mortality-Rates-in-Children-Younger-than-Age-5-Years-Around-the-World-Charles-Dickens-Perspective.pdf

After reading the article “Drooping Buds,” which was written
in 1852, I was disappointed to
learn about the high incidence of infant
and childhood mortality rates in London
during that time.
Of this great city of London-which, until
a few weeks ago, contained no hospital
wherein to treat and study the diseases of
children-more than a third of the whole
population perishes in infancy and childhood. Twenty four in a hundred die, during the first two years of life; and during
the next eight years, eleven die out of the
remaining seventy-six.1

So, Dickens was estimating about 1/3 in 1852. So that looks about the same as the U.S. at that time

In one word?

Terrible. Most issues were related to hygiene - bacterial infections (no antibiotics back then), and childhoood illnesses (no vaccines either).

Vast majority of mortality improvements are due to our modern 20th Century ability to combat bacteria and illnesses (vaccines).

Our technological development as it pertains to medical matters has been downright exponential in the last 100 years.

Part of the problem with comparing infant mortality rates is that there is no standard for what counts as a live birth. I would think that if the baby comes out of the mother and draws breath, that’s a live birth, but no. Some places don’t count it as a live birth until it’s lived for quite a bit longer than that. And of course in places like China, especially during the one-child policy, there was tons of infanticide of girls that was never recorded as live births.

The US looks bad on that score, in part because we attempt to save preemie babies that other countries wouldn’t attempt to save. When we try and fail that counts against our childhood mortality. When other countries don’t try… it doesn’t.


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That’s for current stats.

Olden tymes, the stats are already iffy.

But, just in case people were curious (not that you asked), here is the shape of child mortality stats over a specific period in the U.S., and yes, it was during COVID tymes, but COVID doesn’t make up a lot of these deaths:

CDC WONDER has special ages just for infant mortality. (Most age groupings are either single year, 5-year groupings, or 10-year groupings).

Here’s how it breaks out for 2019:

So more babies died in less than 24 hours from birth than from 4 weeks to 1 year old.

Being born is a traumatic thing. Also might be preexisting conditions that manifest in the first 24 hours. Not defending, merely explaining.

Not talking hotdog in a hallway. Talking camel in a needle’s eye.

Yeah, that’s not even a little bit surprising. Babies are fragile and the ones who survive the first four weeks aren’t the ones with the most severe conditions.

It’s similar with a mortality chart of disabled folks by length of time since disability. The really severe stuff kills you fast and if you make it past the first month / 6 months / year it’s because you weren’t as bad off as a lot of other disabled folks.

Thanks for the inspiration

Here’s a new graph:

Check this out lol: