Medicine And Books

Women and Childbirth in the Twentieth Century

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 06 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:615
  1. Susan Bewley, director of obstetrics
  1. Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals, London

    A Susan Williams, Sutton Publishing, £19.99, pp 329 ISBN 0 7509 1209 X

    In Britain maternal mortality fell from 460 to 102 per 100 000 deliveries between 1934 and 1948, and fell further to 12 per 100 000 by 1988. Thus, in less than two generations the number of women dying in childbirth in my own unit has dropped from one a fortnight to one every two years. This is a gripping story, and not just for obstetricians. The appeal of this book is slightly more limited, as the main subject is the work of the National Birthday Trust Fund (NBTF), a charity set up in 1928 by aristocratic women with political connections, initially for raising funds for voluntary hospitals although with no particular interest …

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