Excerpt from The Public Health Journal, Vol. 7: July, 1916
Even this bare enumeration is enough to show that infant welfare is largely one aspect of the general social welfare. After all, children cannot but accept the par ental environment, and as the standard of this is raised the average of infant health will be correspondingly improved. At the same time, however, it is not to be assumed that modern housing. Up - to-date drainage, and enlightened town-planning will do all that is needed. They will ef feet a very great deal, but there still re mains another factor hardly less impor tant than all these put together. The mother is a mighty inﬂuence for good or evil. If she is enlightened she can turn these advantages to her children's bene fits; but she can also fail to make the best use of them; and, worse still, she can ne gleet them until they actually grow to the_danger of her children's health. A dirty living room, personal uncleanliness, improper food, and feeding utensils ex posed to domestic contamination can soon destroy the health of a child even in a model house in a garden city. Therefore it is to the mother, her well-being, care and education, that we must look if her children are to be kept healthy. The ma ternal instinct, so often a thrice-blessed cloak for ignorance, though no doubt the best that Nature can ofier for the progeny of animals. Does not by itself satisfy civ ilized requirements. As a motive. Force it is indispensable but it is a blind and uh reasoning guide impelling mothers every day to acts of omission or commission which operate to the detriment, even to the fatal harm of their children. Yet the difficulty in so many cases, whatever the social class, is to induce a mother to ques tion the infallibility of the instinct, to place herself outside her own feelings where she is free to distinguish the wish from the deed and its consequences.
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