¿Qué pasa en La Inclusa? The role of press scandals, doctors and public authorities in the evolution of La Inclusa de Madrid, 1890-1935
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Universidad de Granada
Infant mortalityFoundling mortalityInfant abandonmentMadridLa Inclusa de MadridMortalidad infantilMortalidad de expósitosAbandono infantil
Revuelta, B. A. «¿Qué pasa en La Inclusa? The role of press scandals, doctors and public authorities in the evolution of La Inclusa de Madrid, 1890-1935». Dynamis: Acta Hispanica Ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam, Vol. 35, Núm. 1, 1, p. 107-130. [http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S0211-95362015000100005]
PatrocinadorMinistry of Science and Innovation (SEJ2005-06334, CSO2008-06130/ SOCI, CSO2011-29970); doctoral grant BES-2006-13707; Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University
Traditionally, infants abandoned at foundling hospitals were identified as «bastards» and «children of vice» whose health, to all intents and purposes, reflected the moral sins of their parents and thus, led to unavoidable mortality. By late 19th century, several changes challenged that consideration: a growing emphasis on the importance of fighting infant mortality, the appearance of a new, medicalized, ideal of motherhood, the spread of new medical theories, the appearance of disciplines like Child Health, the construction of pediatric wards, and maternity hospitals. The consequences of these changes had their greatest impact at La Inclusa due to its location in the capital city, close to the decision-making centres and as focus of the interest of the national media. This article examines the role of the press and the medical profession in successively denouncing La Inclusa’s excess mortality during the period 1890-1935. By looking at daily press and medical publications, it sheds light on the uneven consequences of the press scandals denouncing foundlings’ extreme mortality in the period. The first scandal (1899-1900) faded without acknowledging any excess foundling mortality; the second (1918) was initiated by the doctors in charge but only produced some changes. The third scandal (1927) was instrumental in bringing about the changes that would turn a century-old institution in a state-of-the art medicalized centre and the change from debris of society to healthy children of foundlings. The effects of the press coverage were not restricted locally to foundlings in Madrid, and had a wider impact: by making the public aware of the dire situation of foundlings, they contributed to the development of legislation related to the fight against infant mortality and the control of mercenary breastfeeding.