Medical progress has cut the orphan problem in half since 1900. Although 371,000 children under 18 became orphaned by the death of a parent in 1948, the toll would have been twice that with the death rates of 1900. Likewise the number of marriages broken by the death of husband or wife would have been close to one million,1 50% greater than the number reported, 667,000. Chronologically, the process starts at birth with keeping both mother and newborn baby alive. The probability of a child being left motherless at birth today is only one-eighth to one-seventh the probability that its mother would have been left motherless at birth; i. e., maternal mortality has been sharply reduced in one generation. Thus medical progress and longer life are increasing family stability in a period when many families are being broken for reasons other than the death of a parent.
KEEPING THE FAMILY TOGETHER. JAMA. 1951;147(2):169. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670190069014