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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland Members of the public pay their respects at the grounds where the unmarked mass grave containing the remains of nearly 800 infants.
# mother and baby home
Death rate of babies at Tuam mother and baby home was double the rate of other homes
The returns from local authorities, disqualifying Dublin, shows that 17% of babies under the age of one died in registered maternity homes that year.

THE DEATH RATE of babies at the Tuam mother and baby home was almost double the rate of other homes around the country.

Figures from National Archives seen by show that 31.6% of babies under the age of one in Tuam died over the course of one year.

This compares to an overall death rate in other homes around the country of just over 17% among babies of the same age.

The return from Galway Local Authority shows that in the Tuam mother and baby home 49 babies were born in the institution in 1947. A further 30 children under the age of one were admitted to the institution, making there a total of 79 children under the age of one in the care of the maternity home.

In that year, 25 babies under the age of one died in the home.

It also lists the cause of death for the children in the Tuam home. One child, aged just 8 months old, died of laryngitis and cardiac arrest.

A three month old is recorded as dying of TB, while a 5 week old is reported as dying from a cerebral haemorrhage. Other causes of death include, bronchitis, convulsions and epilepsy.

Two children aged just five and six weeks old are listed as dying of congenital syphilis.

The figures are contained in the state file entitled: “Children Returns of births, deaths etc of illegitimate children in institutions during year 31/3/1947.”

The return for Dublin is omitted from the file, but includes returns from the other counties. No reason is given as to why the Dublin area figures are omitted.

Comparison with other homes 

The register of births, still births, admittances and deaths for maternity homes in 1947 shows that in total 1,068 infants under the age of one are listed as in mother and baby homes that year.

A total of 852 babies were born in the institutions, while 216 infants under the age of one were admitted.

Over 183 babies or over 17% of the babies under the age of one in the care of mother and baby homes died in 1947.

Under the law at the time, maternity homes had to be registered with each local authority.

Each local authority was required to submit yearly returns to the Department of Health specifying the number of children in care and the number of deaths.

While most of the returns for each county do not contain any identifying details, the return for Galway, which lists Tuam mother and baby home, contains the names of the children that died.

Read: Here’s a letter giving state approval of Tuam mother and baby home>

Read: Taoiseach: ‘I think there is much more to this than one mother and baby home’>

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