In the XVI-XVII centuries pediatrics hadn’t emerged as a distinct discipline but prominent Russian public figures and scientists were interested in the questions of the child health care. For example, the brilliant Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765) wrote in particular about the need for state control over the maternity and postpartum women care in order to decrease infant mortality in his treatise "On the propagation and preservation of the Russian people". The principal aims for protecting the life of newborns and the needs for orphans houses development were outlined in this treatise. It is important to note here that the idea of the necessity of orphan’s houses became one of the main concerns since the epoch of the great Russian reformer Emperor Peter the First (1672-1725).
I.I. Betsky, the great statesman of the XVIII century, became the founder of the first Russian Imperial Orphan’s House in Moscow. The story of the creation, development and its reformation into the Scientific Center of Children’s Health - the main federal center of the Russian pediatric society, - will be presented below.
The date of September 1st 1763, which marks the birthday of the Moscow Imperial Orphan’s House can be considered as a historical day in the formation of Russian national pediatrics. Its creation marks the birth of the state system of children’s health care in our
In September 1st 1763 the Russian Empress Catherine the Great had signed the Manifest of establishing “The Orphan’s House” with an affiliated hospital for infants and a hospital for poor women in childbirth, located in the center of city, which became known as the Moscow Imperial Orphan’s House.
Its motto “feeds the birdling without sparing itself” is still preserved in the form of a sculpture of a pelican feeding its nestlings in the gable of the historical building.
Since the first days I. Betsky, Ch. Mertens - the first head physicians, and their colleagues introduced such fundamental but nevertheless uncommon for that period principles of medical care such as: state approach and patronage of the heads of state; the continuity of obstetrical and neonatal services - initially the Moscow Orphan’s House included a maternity hospital and a hospital for infants; the observance of sanitary and epidemiological measures during epidemics. Remarkable that during the plague epidemic in Moscow (1771-1772) a special quarantine isolation department was introduced for newly entering orphans. Children in this department stayed under the supervision of doctors for about a month and only in the absence of plague signs of the disease could be transferred to join the other healthy orphans. All other patients were examined every day and were isolated in a separate infection department if the first symptoms of plague were found. Such strict preventive steps ensured the absence of the epidemic among inmates.
These coordinated efforts formed the basis of the first scientific monograph authored by Dr. Mertens "Traite de la peste contenant l’histoire de celle qui a regne a Moscou en 1771" in which he described not only the diagnostics and treatment of plague, but also, for the first time, prouved the necessity of disease prevention.
During the same period of time the vaccination became one of the main preventive activities of the Hospital. Only 4 years after it had been discovered by Professor E. Jenner (England) the method of vaccination against smallpox was successfully introduced in the Moscow Orphan’s House.
In the next few decades the institution experienced a lot of dramatic historical moments. For example, during the war with Napoleon, when the French army occupied Moscow, the Imperial Orphan’s House was saved by the heroic efforts of the staff, doctors and nurses, because during that time not only the inmates were treated in the House but also wounded Russian and French soldiers, as well as the children of French officers. The basic commandment for doctors to work exclusively in the interests of a patient regardless of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, property and official status, religion or faith was again confirmed.
With time The Moscow Imperial Orphan’s House has collected valuable material about the course of child diseases and methods of their treatment, the physicians investigated new directions of clinical and social pediatrics actively. Since the second half of the 19th century the House began to maintain a record of child morbility and mortality, their dynamics and main causes, and became the main vaccination center in Russia. Since 1805 it was asked to produce and dispatch the smallpox vaccine all over the country, to provide immunization to all who required it and to train all who were interested for vaccination.
It also became the first medical center where obstetrics were one of the main activities and were studied as a discipline. Thus, the Moscow Imperial Orphan’s House deserves by right the honorary title of the “cradle” of the national pediatrics and obstetrics.
After the Russian October Revolution of 1917 the emerging Soviet health care system focused on maternal and child health. The basic principles of the Soviet and in the future modern Russian pediatric health care system was founded by the great pediatrician academician professor G.Speransky. The Imperial Moscow Orphan’s House was gradually reorganized into the Institute of Pediatrics:
The Institute of Pediatrics was headed by the most famous Russian pediatricians: academician G.Speransky (1947-1951), professor M.Kazantseva (1951-1954), academician O.Sokolova - Ponomareva (1954-1960), academician M.Studenikin (1960-1998), and since 1998 till the present day - academician A.A. Baranov.
The Institute continued to develop as a diversified research clinical pediatric institution. In the 1960-s the Departments of Nephrology, Hematology, Allergology, Surgery, Gastroenterology, labs of Functional Diagnostics, of Clinical Virology, Department of Therapeutic Physical Training and Sports Medicine and many others were created for the first time. The infection department worked actively and made a considerable contribution to the significant decrease of morbidity and mortality due to vaccination. Consequently, the Institute of pediatrics started its development as a hospital
with multiple specializations