An exploration of the effects of pandemic influenza on infant mortality in Toronto, 1917-1921

Stacey Alanna Hallman, McMaster University

The 1918 Influenza pandemic was not a disease of infants and most research on this pandemic has focused on young adults, whose excess mortality was most alarming. However, as infant mortality rates are a measure of social health, an analysis of infant death provides another avenue for exploring the declining environmental conditions due to this epidemic. This study investigates infant mortality in Toronto, Canada, from September to December 1918, through the Registered Death Records of the Province of Ontario. A comparison of infant death in 1918 to surrounding years (1917-1921) revealed that infant mortality rates remained relatively stable. Yet, preliminary results indicate changes in the infant mortality profile. Deaths from influenza did increase slightly and were early for the typical airborne disease season. While infants did not suffer from the drastic rise in excess mortality that was seen in adults, the epidemic may have altered who was dying and when.

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Presented in Session 223: Spreading the disease: the demography of diffusion and transmission of contagious agents in the past