Objects | Inventions and Firsts


Birthday card for a ‘Red Spot’ baby, 1953

Tyne & Wear Archives, Tyne and Wear

Firsts, Learning and Discovery, Social Reform

1946 To Today

In 1939, Sir James Spence was appointed Professor of Child Health in Newcastle; the first appointment of its kind in the country. Spence and his colleague, Fred Miller, undertook a programme of research to better understand the main causes behind infant death.

Known as a Study of a Thousand Families, the medical record of each child participant was identified with a red spot; hence the term, ‘red spot baby’.

The project was intended to take place over seven years, but was later extended to fifteen. Every child participant over that time received Christmas and birthday cards similar to this one.

The study was revolutionary as the general circumstances of family and home life were recognised as being a potential cause of child mortality for the first time. Consequently, new ways were developed in which to address children’s health.

Newcastle continues to be known for its pioneering work. In 2005 it was designated one of six UK Science Cities in recognition of the world-class university research and the potential of its science industry in Ageing & Health, Sustainability and Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine.

On display at Tyne & Wear Archives, for June 2013.
If you would like to view after this date, please make an enquiry with the Archives, see website for more details www.twarchives.org.uk

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