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January 13, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(2):141. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810020045011

Little is known concerning the predisposition of families toward congenital defects. Murphy1 in Philadelphia studied the families of those whose names appeared on death certificates with a diagnosis of congenital malformation during the five year period 1929-1933. During this period there were 130,132 deaths and stillbirths from all causes. Among the certificates 1,476 recorded congenital malformations, of which 890 were adequately confirmed. From analysis of the information obtained it was concluded that gross congenital malformations, as recorded on death certificates, afflict approximately one of every 213 individuals who are born alive. About a quarter of those born congenitally malformed are stillbirths. The malformation rate is about twice as high in white persons as among Negroes. In this series the frequency of birth of subsequent malformed offspring was twenty-five times greater in families already possessing a malformed child than in the general population.

Relation was not demonstrated between frequency of

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