Tragedy of Childbed Fever
The Tragedy of Childbed fever, by Irvine Loudon, tells the story of a horrific disease during the 18th to 20th century. The Tragedy of Childbed Fever, or puerperal fever as it is commonly referred too, offers a detailed account of the disease which was the most common cause of death in women on their childbed. Loudon takes key historical debates and testimonies from influential thinkers of the time and evaluates their theories in order to offer an explanation of the causes, prevention and treatment of puerperal fever. Loudon’s aim of the text was to offer an insight into this disease, which rampaged through Europe for centuries. Loudon provided an impressive, detailed and well researched account of the disease. By taking key debates, Loudon offers an account of the disease from when it was first recognised in the 18th century up until the 20th century. Loudon also used quantitative data to emphasise his key points: that scientific medical breakthroughs eradicated the disease by the 20t century. Loudon presents the text in chronological order. Naturally he began with an introduction where he defined perpetual fever, and set the scene for the rest of the text. This definition is followed by a series of first-hand accounts from doctors/midwifes (and family members), who attended labouring /post natal women. Loudon’s purpose of beginning the text with these first-hand accounts is to grasp the readers interest, and for effect. It made good reading by beginning the text with these accounts as it demonstrated the devastating effect of the disease on women, and then to break the text down in order to establish the causes, prevention and treatment of the disease. Throughout the text Loudon puts forward the idea that perpetual fever was not a result of bad miasmas, as commonly thought at the time, but through contamination and the spread of germs. Loudon argues that the increasing number of deaths was a direct result of germs being passed...
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