Over­crowd­ing and lack

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Exclusive -

their early deaths will not ap­pear in their death cer­tifi­cates.

“The stress af­fects their brains and hearts mak­ing them more likely to com­mit sui­cide and de­velop heart dis­ease.

“These chil­dren are also more likely to become ad­dicted to al­co­hol or drugs as adults.

“This also short­ens their lives. A greater un­der­stand­ing is needed of sur­vivors of child­hood abuse.”

The Sun­day Post spent three months comb­ing the archives to find the death cer­tifi­cates of 402 chil­dren where Smyl­lum was listed as the place of death or nor­mal res­i­dence.

Causes of death in­clude ac­ci­dents and dis­eases such as tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, flu and scar­let fever.

Lead­ing foren­sic medicine ex­pert, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor An­thony Busut­til, of Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity, said the num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing at Smyl­lum would speed the spread of con­ta­gious and po­ten­tially fa­tal dis­ease.

He said: “The in­ci­dence of in­fec­tious dis­eases in the home was that of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

“If there was over­crowd­ing, in­fec­tious dis­eases would spread more quickly.

“The higher the pop­u­la­tion of the home the more likely the chil­dren were to get in­fec­tious dis­eases.

“If a child got TB it would die promptly, per­haps die later than those with TB in the com­mu­nity, but nev­er­the­less die.

“There were no an­tibi­otics or TB vac­cines avail­able at that time to pre­vent those deaths.

Liv­ing un­der such stress takes years off life ex­pectancy

“We also have to con­sider how well chil­dren were when they went into the home.

“What is no­tice­able is that fewer chil­dren died from in­testi­nal in­fec­tious dis­eases and di­ar­rhoea which should have been quite ram­pant among the in­sti­tu­tion­alised pop­u­la­tion.

He said he un­der­stood that chil­dren who died in Ir­ish or­phan­ages showed ev­i­dence of mal­nu­tri­tion, but not at Smyl­lum.

“There are very few deaths from mal­nu­tri­tion at Smyl­lum,” he said.

But he added that de­tails given on death cer­tifi­cates were not al­ways ac­cu­rate.

“Death cer­tifi­cates were com­pleted with what­ever the doc­tors wanted to put on them, sug­gest­ing that they were not al­ways ac­cu­rate.”

The mor­tal­ity rate among one to 14-year-olds at Smyl­lum, be­tween 1864 and 1981, was at

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