Sunday, March 25, 2007

So who invented paediatrics, then?

Well, nobody, one would have thought. The idea of medical care for children is no more unusual than that of care for adults, is it?

Actually, until as recently as several decades into the 20th Century, this was not the case. Children got sick and died; they were considered "replaceable". Radio 4's Last Word this week talks about Dr Beryl Corner. She fought against a patriarchal system and the belief of obstetricians that there was no need for paediatricians, to establish one of the first special care baby units in the UK in 1942. It gained an international reputation.

These days, we parents take for granted that appropriate facilities will be available for poorly infants. But it was partly her influence that led to this.

Oh, by the way, it doesn't mention it in the synopsis, but it does in the programme. Her motivation for doing this was her Christian belief. She believed that Christ had died for all children, no matter what their illness or disability.