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November 26, 1938


JAMA. 1938;111(22):2018-2019. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790480048014

According to the statistics of the birth registration area about 80,000 infants die annually at birth in this country; 30,000 more die on the first day from causes which, almost without exception, are of natal origin. For every hundred babies born alive there are five, or one in twenty, that die within the first twenty-four hours of extra-uterine life. As Yandell Henderson pointed out, the first quarter of an hour after birth is the most dangerous period of life. Its mortality is as great as that of any subsequent month. The principal causes of infant mortality during the first twenty-four hours are prematurity, cerebral hemorrhage and asphyxia. These factors are so interrelated that it is impossible to establish precisely their relative importance. Intra-uterine pneumonia due to aspiration of amniotic fluid, plus a bacterial factor, are responsible for a certain number of deaths and, rarely, drugs administered to the mother.