Martha M. Eliot, MD
In the 1930's, Martha Eliot conducted important field studies on the epidemiology of rickets in Puerto Rico and New Haven, Conn., and on the therapeutic effect of sunlight and vitamin D.
Dr. Eliot became associate chief of the U.S. Children's Bureau in 1935. She had primary responsibility for developing legislation and policies for Title V of the Social Security Act of 1935 for the expansion of child health services in the United States and of services for "crippled children." She also was responsible for the Emergency Maternity and Infant Care Act for World War II that provided $140 million for maternity and infant care of wives and children of servicemen in the lowest pay grades.
This legislation resulted in significant increases in federal support for child health and handicapped children's services, in the standards of those services, and in the training of administrators in schools of public health. The Crippled Children's Program provided hospital and specialty care for children with orthopedic, cardiac, and other handicaps.
Prior to and after becoming director of the U.S. Children's Bureau in 1950, Dr. Eliot emphasized the needs of children in rural areas. Federal funds increased three-fold for Child Health Services and six-fold for Crippled Children's Services from 1940-60. She retired from the service in 1959.
Dr. Eliot's encouragement and funding supported the development of the division of maternal and child health at Johns Hopkins.