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September 14, 1940

Family Allowances: Children Must Be Fed

JAMA. 1940;115(11):958. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810370066034

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The fact that "in England today there are children going so short of proper food that their health and growth are being damaged" leads the London Lancet to believe that a medical problem is created. Wages are paid on the theory that a man is entitled to "at least a 'living wage' " to cover a "normal family" with three children. But only 3.9 per cent of men have more than three children and these are responsible for 23 per cent of the children. The present so-called living wage does not afford adequate food for a family of even five and is very inadequate for additional children. Since the first item of economy in the family budget is usually food, a large amount of malnutrition results which affects not only the children but even more frequently the mother and is reflected in a high maternal death rate. The Lancet therefore urges

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