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January 24, 1986

And It Wasn't Her Fault Anyway...

Author Affiliations

Stanford University Medical Center Stanford, Calif

JAMA. 1986;255(4):467. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370040037017

To the Editor.—  I was saddened to read the essay entitled "Equal, Not Really," by an anonymous 35-year-old woman physician.1 The author said she felt "melancholy, inadequate, and guilt-ridden" because her young son had developed a stuttering problem. Apparently, her son's teacher, headmaster, and even a speech pathologist had informed her that her heavy medical work load was a causative factor. Because she had not given her stuttering son enough mother-child time she would "cry myself to sleep."I suppose it is forgivable that an "accomplished, respected" physician, possibly in an unrelated field, would not know that stuttering is more likely to be a genetic problem than an environmental one. But it is surprising that a speech pathologist could be so ignorant of recent developments. There are various lines of evidence for genetic transmission, including (1) the fact that three times as many boys as girls develop stuttering, (2)