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March 10, 1917


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Pediatrics, Western Reserve University, School of Medicine, and the Babies' Dispensary and Hospital.

JAMA. 1917;LXVIII(10):777-779. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.04270030109013

The etiology of Mongolian idiocy remains as obscure today as when first described by Downs1 in 1866. As one might expect a priori, the theories are numerous and comprehensive. The help of the omnipresent and omnipotent Spirochaeta pallida and Bacillus tuberculosis has frequently been invoked.

Downs, in his original communication, tavored the tuberculosis hypothesis. To quote, "They [Mongolian idiots are for the most part instances of tuberculosis in the parents." It would be beyond the scope of this paper to enter into an exhaustive consideration of the various opinions concerning the etiology of this characteristic type of idiocy.

We merelys wish to go on record as opponents to thesrecet views of Stevens,2 who tries to incriminate consgnital syphilis as the underlying cause. Stevens' ^views are best appreciated by quoting from his latest published article:3

In a previous article I presented results which indicated, with a high degree

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