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June 9, 1951

THE HEREDITY OF EPILEPSY AS TOLD BY RELATIVES AND TWINS

Author Affiliations

Boston

From the Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and the Children's Medical Center.

JAMA. 1951;146(6):529-536. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670060005002
Abstract

"Can there be marriage and children"? This is one of the most urgent questions propounded by the epileptic and his relatives, and one of the most difficult to answer. Answers given by doctors differ radically. One will deny and the next will affirm the importance of heredity. In giving advice, many forget that the problem refers to a person possessed of not just one transmissible trait, but of many. A condition that argues against marriage and children may be neutralized, or even outweighed, by other conditions that favor marriage. These will be considered after the testimony of relatives has been reviewed.

OPINIONS IN THE PAST  For the most part, doctors and laymen alike have recognized a transmissible quality. Hippocrates called epilepsy a familial disease. Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy" states that the ancient Scots "instantly gelded" any man with falling sickness and if a woman "were found to be with child,

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