The July meeting of Thropton WI was to be the last until September – last, but certainly not least.
We had the privilege of welcoming Professor Sir Alan Craft to our summer meeting, and his fascinating talk on the ‘Red Spot Babies’ held our rapt attention from first to last.
We learned that Sir James Calvert Spence, a local lad from Amble, who was later to become the first professor of child health in England, was the instigator of the study.
Dr Fred Miller, another local lad from Ashington, was the main organiser, setting up the scheme.
The project measured more than 1,000 babies born in May and June 1947.
The study was a response to the high infant mortality rate in the Newcastle area at the time.
In his turn, Prof Craft, a third local lad, came to work for Dr Miller and so began his involvement with the study of the health and welfare of the children in a familial context.
The red spots identified these special children on GPs’ records.
The study initially covered their development between birth and their fifth birthdays.
Vast amounts of data were collected and health visitors played a major part in the research, which covered not only health, but living conditions, income and unemployment.
The results of the study concluded that poverty was the primary determinant of childhood health.
Eighty per cent of the ‘babies’ were traced 50 years after the commencement of the study, and they appeared to be quite healthy.
They were put through a number of medical tests, and now the conclusion was that adult lifestyle had the most impact on health, as we are repeatedly told today.
However, the fact that so many of the subjects had reached the age of 50 in relative good health caused the investigators to postulate that this was primarily due to the fact that their mothers had enjoyed a healthy diet during the Second World War. This proved to be a most significant finding.
It appears that the nutrition and health of teenage girls is of great relevance to the subsequent health of any offspring they produce.
Prof Craft informed us that the health of the ‘red spot babies’ is still being followed up today.
His talk was warmly applauded by his enthusiastic audience.
Our business meeting was fairly brief, but our president warmly thanked a relatively new member, June Hasson, who had compiled a book of photographs recording our recent visit to Beamish.
The trip had been, as usual, ably organised by Pat Angus.
We were updated on the Rothbury Hospital campaign and were reminded about future events, including the visit of our Scottish twin in August and our coffee morning in October.
We were also informed about the new marking system for our competitions.
This month’s competition for red spot cupcakes was won by our competitions organiser, Jean Boyle.
We will meet again on September 6, when our speaker will be one of the local vets.
New members are always most welcome to come along and join the group.