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Why did life expectancy increase in the 20th Century?

Learning Outcomes:

* To identify the main health problems facing people in the period 1900 to the present day.
* To recognise that life expectancy can vary dramatically between different countries.

Source: Extracts from A Century of Change: Trends in UK statistics since 1900

The life expectancy of new born children in 1999 is 75 years for boys and 80 years for girls. In 1901 baby boys were expected to live for 45 years and girls 49 years.

From 1900 to 1930 the number of deaths per thousand births fell from 140 to 63.

Infant mortality increased in the economic depression of the late 1920s and during the Second World War. With economic prosperity and the establishment of the National Health Service, large fluctuations in the number of infant deaths no longer occurred and infant mortality steadily declined.

Infectious diseases were prevalent among children and accounted for a significant proportion of total infant mortality. About 50% of 5-9 year olds in 1911-1915 died of such diseases.

Infectious diseases were prevalent among children and accounted for a significant proportion of total infant mortality. About 50% of 5-9 year olds in 1911-1915 died of such diseases.

causes of Deaths 1900 to 1997

Infant Mortality rates in the 20th century

Life Expectancy at birth figures for the twentieth century

Activity:

Note the main trends that can be identified in the information and diagrams above. You can share your thoughts and findings here.

What were the biggest threats to someones health in 1900?

Are these still major threats to health? If not, why not?

Consider the improvements made to the health of children in the last hundred or so years. Education has been made compulsory in the UK, free school meals are available for many who otherwise would have to go without and school nurses and health visitors make regular checks on the health and welfare of young children. Likewise, vaccination programmes are often run through the education system.

Activity: Complete the Wellcome Trust activities on the facors that have led to improved health for children since 1900 (pdf file).

 

 

 

 

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