Connecticut Baby Special
When America mobilized to join the war effort, the existence of a national health problem emerged. It was estimated that 30% of the males who were examined for military service were found to be unfit. The majority of their deficiencies were linked to poor health care in childhood.
The Children’s Bureau of the Federal Department of Labor launched a national campaign to “save 100,000 babies” with a goal of reducing infant mortality by a third. During the “Children’s Year” an estimated 11 million women joined forces across the country focused on the goals of weighing and measuring infants and toddlers, promoting the importance of healthy recreation and play, and decreasing the number of children in the workforce by encouraging school attendance.
As part of this national effort, a Child Welfare Department was created as part of the Connecticut Council of Defense. With the sensational headlines of “More Babies Die Than Soldiers” and “Safer in Trenches Than to Be Infant in Connecticut,”” Connecticut launched its campaign in May of 1918. That summer it rolled out the “Connecticut Baby Special” a truck specially fitted with the equipment needed to weight and measure the children.
At the end of the campaign, it was reported that of the 33,011 children estimated to be living in Hartford County, 18,802 had been examined and 2,836 of those were in need of further attention.