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The Impact of Public Health Modernisation and Female Education on Infant Mortality in Dubrovnik in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Kristina Puljizević orcid id ; Hrvatsko katoličko sveučilište
Rina Kralj-Brassard orcid id ; Zavod za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 739 Kb

str. 619-645

preuzimanja: 539



Urban environment of Dubrovnik of the mid-1870s witnessed a lower rate of infant mortality as compared to other parts of Croatia, but also to its rural surroundings thanks to a high hygiene standard and well-thought-out public health system which, to a large extent, had been inherited from the previous periods. Diverse modernisation processes developing throughout the territory of Croatia and Dalmatia at the turn of the nineteenth century had an impact on a declining trend of infant mortality in Dubrovnik. In Europe, the creators of state policy, medical professionals, teachers and other intellectuals united in a mission to promote new habits related to infant care. Female population was to be educated for motherhood through various mediators: from girls’ public schools, to literature which promoted a popular approach to medical issues of general concern. Some measures, such as introduction of new hygiene requirements regarding the practice of midwives, proved to have affected a wider population of uneducated women thanks to the midwives’ direct contact with pregnant women and parturients, unlike, for example, the boom of medical literature popularising infant care, which may have reached only a modest number of educated women. Following this trend, at the turn of the century Dubrovnik, too, saw the establishment of new girls’ schools, publication of a book in Croatian about infant care, whilst a number of qualified midwives practised in the city area. The impact of these improvement steps on the decline of infant mortality cannot be measured, yet it offers a plausible explanation of the declining infant mortality rate at the turn of the nineteenth century, notably if compared to the period when these processes were in an early stage (1870-1879). A drop of infant mortality in Dubrovnik from 92.92‰ down to 77‰ includes mainly the declining mortality of infants aged one to twelve months, and to a lesser extent that of the infants in their first month of life. The cause of death in the majority of samples among those gathered from the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century cannot be ascertained with exactitude from the standpoint of modern medicine.

Ključne riječi

infant mortality, public health, Dubrovnik, midwives, popular literature, women’s education, 19th century, 20th century

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: hrvatski

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