Industrial Social Diseases in 19th Century


  • Francesco Leoni Chair of History of Medicine University of Cassino (FR)


Industrial, Social disease, XIX century


The author illustrates the relations in Italy between industry and the medical-hygienic situation in the XIX century. Italy started industrial processes raher late, about 1840, and between 1840 and 1870, for the first rime, a remarkable quantity of publications about working class life conditions appeared. Special attention was given to spinning-mill workers, who -as Tonini, Ripa and Bonomi describe in their treatises - suffered a very hard life and working conditions, cold, damp, a very poor diet based on stale bread, furthermore, women ha dangerous pregnacies and their babies were extremely undernourished, because of bottle-feeding caused by the impossibility of mothers to take their infants with them. These conditions produced numerous gastric, rheumatic and respiratory diseases. At the end of the XIX century Mantegazza defined, for the first time, professional diseases from a clinical and social point of view. Investigations acquired a more rigorous and scientific character by dividing into a series of subjects such as, for instance, the study of "unhealthy industries". Legislation was adapted quite late, and produced in 1888 the "Crispi act".