Behind the Stats of Infant Mortality
Updated: Oct 28
For any parent, the death of their child is undoubtedly difficult to handle. Close friends of mine lost one of their premature twins after only a few precious days of life. I know the pain and grief that they went through. In the developed world, fortunately, we know how these occurrences are now quite rare - but for those that are impacted the grief is devastating, no matter what the stats say. Regrettably, as we all know too well, in some countries around the world, infant death rates remain far too high.
The 1911 Census asked questions about infant mortality. In researching my own family, my 2nd Great Grand Aunt (work that one out!), Ada BROUGHAM (b 1865 Honley, Yorkshire) married Sam HAIGH in 1886. By the time the 1911 Census took place they had had 5 children. Three telling Census questions puts some sad detail behind this.
Total children born alive - answer 5
Children still living - answer 2
Children who have died - answer 3
After 24 years of marriage Ada and Sam had 3 child deaths to deal with. The hurt they must have gone through must be life changing - the joys of having given birth squashed by the premature end of their new child. I don't know at this stage if they had any more children later on, or indeed, if they had any still births - but I do know I feel for them.
Until I started to research my family history, I never knew that my father had an older brother, Terrence, who only lived 21 days. My Father took me to the memorial ground where Terrence is buried. Now a small area of walled grassland on the junction of 2 main roads; you would certainly miss the significance of it unless you were told.
The 1911 census, because of these three questions, brings home to us, in a very personal way, the extent of infant deaths in our own family history.