Death before Birth: Fetal Health and Mortality in Historical Perspective

Hardcover | September 20, 2009

byRobert Woods

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Considering its importance, the history of fetal health and mortality remains a neglected area. Medical historians have tended to focus on maternal mortality and professional conflicts between midwives rather than on the unborn, while among the social scientists demographers andepidemiologists have until recently devoted most of their attention to infants and children. Death before Birth redresses this imbalance, redirecting attention to the fetus. A study of fetal health from the seventeenth century to the present day, it is the first book to offer an historical perspective on the subject and to combine both medical history and epidemiological and demographicresearch, using long-term and comparative perspectives, including a strong international comparative element, across both Europe and North America. The book not only provides an account of how fetal health and the risks facing the unborn (miscarriages, abortions, stillbirths etc) have changed, italso offers an interpretation of the causes, one that focuses on the role of obstetrics and the epidemiology of maternal infections. Along the way, it pays detailed attention to a host of related themes, such as varying cultural practices in the recognition of stillbirths; the age pattern of mortality risk between conception and live birth; comparative trends in late-fetal mortality and their causes; fetal mortality and obstetriccare during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries; and the contrasting approaches of the pathologists and 'social epidemiologists' to the causes of fetal death. The book concludes with a study of the 'fetus as patient', focusing on issues surrounding the legalization of abortion inmany Western countries and the public health challenges of persistently high mortality in less developed countries.

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Considering its importance, the history of fetal health and mortality remains a neglected area. Medical historians have tended to focus on maternal mortality and professional conflicts between midwives rather than on the unborn, while among the social scientists demographers andepidemiologists have until recently devoted most of their ...

Robert Woods is John Rankin Professor of Geography at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of The Demography of Victorian England and Wales (2000) and Children Remembered: Responses to Untimely Death in the Past (2006). He is also an editor of the journal Population Studies and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:September 20, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199542759

ISBN - 13:9780199542758

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction to fetal health and mortality2. Definitions, measurement, influences3. The prospects for survival from conception to childhood4. Fetal mortality in comparative perspective5. Midwifery and fetal death6. Fetal pathology and social obstetrics7. Arguments from medical history and demography8. Induced abortion and the fetus as patient: a continuing paradoxBibliographyIndex