Travelers to Iran in the 19th century often decried the startling rate of infant mortality. Writing in 1856, Lady Mary Sheil, wife of the British envoy to Persia, Sir Justin Sheil, remarked that “the mortality among children is immense, owing to neglect, ignorance, and laziness.” Citing the Shah's French physician, Sheil continued: “Dr. Cloquet … expressed to me his conviction that not above three children in ten outlived their third year.” Sheil faulted the local culture of child rearing, including women as the traditional caretakers of children, for this deplorable condition. She described a society in which fairly affluent mothers apparently disliked nursing infants and one that purportedly allowed “nurses” to calm children with bits of opium. Nearly four decades later, the British official George Nathaniel Curzon documented other scenarios to explain the high mortality of women and children. Upon visiting Iran in 1892, Curzon cited a report by the Austrian physician Jakob Polak that one of the “main causes of the decline of population” in Iran was related to the “unfavourable position of women, including the facility of divorce, early marriage, and premature age, the length of the suckling period, and the thereby impaired fertility of the sex.” Other possible reasons for population decline included the “decay of sanitary police, and consequent greater ravages by typhus, dysentery, cholera, plague, and, more particularly, owing to the inadequacy of inoculation, by small-pox—the mortality of children in the second year of their age being very striking.” Though pinpointing different reasons for the prevalence of infant mortality, Sheil and Curzon recognized this issue as a consequential social problem facing 19th-century Iranian society.